Ontario. 6th ed.


400 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Index
ISBN 978-2-89464-773-8
DDC 917.1304'5




Reviewed by John R. Abbott

John Abbott is a professor of history at Laurentian University’s Algoma University College. He is the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste Marie and The History of Fort St. Joseph.


One cannot imagine Ontario being a traveller’s destination, in the way that Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, or Vancouver certainly are. The omnibus guide must contain, in reduced but not gaunt format, the elements of a good city guide for centres such as Toronto and Ottawa, yet deal fairly with the more modest attributes of such smaller but deserving cities as Kingston, Hamilton, London, and Windsor, and not omit the tiny jewels along the way or off the beaten path. Port Hope and Goderich come to mind. What is one to do with those vast stretches of rock, wood, lake, and swamp stretching north and west of the Severn River whose settlements, like so many tiny melons on a vine, are strung from North Bay to the Manitoba border, along Highways 17 and 11? Furthermore, how can any author acquire sufficient current knowledge to be a credible witness?

     The excellent Ulysses format of tours with maps is reproduced here for Toronto. While it is efficient and effective, it lacks the intimacy and spontaneity of the Montreal guide, with its cheeky little “Heads Up!” notes. The author recognized that Kingston is a walker’s city, and devised a tour that includes most of the really important sites (including the excellent and unusual penitentiary museum). Yet for lack of intimate local knowledge the author fails to point out that Kingston is one of a very few Ontario centres to have retained a broad-spectrum, inner-city retail and commercial core, and that Princess and not Ontario Street is its spine. Failure to remain current on Prince Edward County’s emergence as a successful wine-growing region and a magnet for such well-known chefs as Michael Potter is really regrettable. That said, however, the tours of Ontario’s diverse regions are for the most part skillfully organized to reveal the salient attractions and direct travellers to a selection of the best restaurants. One is gratified to recognize Churchill’s in North Bay, the Old English Pantry in Little Current, Thymely Manner in Sault Ste. Marie, and the storied Hoito in Thunder Bay. Finally, Ontario’s magnificent parks, provincial and national, are given pride of place—a decision that adds an element of coherence to the guide.


Couture, Pascale., “Ontario. 6th ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26557.