Toronto Sketches 5: "The Way We Were"


192 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps
ISBN 1-55002-292-X
DDC 971.3'541






Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


Remember 1921, when trolley fares in Toronto jumped an outrageous 40
percent from 5 to 7 cents? Or 1907, when Mr. Gail Robinson accidentally
rammed his bicycle-powered dirigible into a public-school belfry at the
corner of King and Crawford streets? If the exact details of these
events are a little fuzzy in your memory, fear not—Toronto history
enthusiast Mike Filey has published yet another volume in The Way We
Were series.

The collection is culled from columns published in The Toronto Sunday
Sun between August 6, 1995 and December 22, 1996. Between those two
dates were the 20th anniversary of the CN Tower, the 25th anniversary of
Ontario Place, the 75th anniversary of the Toronto Transit Commission,
the 100th anniversary of the first showing of a moving picture in
Toronto, and the bicentennials of Scarborough, St. James’ Cathedral,
and Yonge Street.

A recurring theme is “everything old is new again.” Filey takes
topics that are front-page news today and finds comparable headlines
from 50 to 100 years ago. Today’s street gangs and sports hooligans
seem positively tame when juxtaposed with the Hallowe’en Riot of 1945,
during which parts of Toronto were closed off by marauding gangs and a
police station on Main Street was besieged by a youth mob estimated to
number in the thousands.

Perhaps because he is not a trained historian himself, Filey is
extremely generous in mentioning new and meritorious books by other
amateur historians. Notwithstanding the occasional error or typo,
Filey’s own book is recommended on the basis of his ability to make
history meaningful to a largely nonacademic audience. When it comes to
keeping Toronto’s heritage alive, Filey is worth at least one history


Filey, Mike., “Toronto Sketches 5: "The Way We Were",” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,