Discover and Explore Toronto's Waterfront: A Walker's Jogger's Cyclist's Guide to Toronto's Lakeside Sites and History. Rev. ed.


144 pages
Contains Photos, Maps
ISBN 1-55002-304-7
DDC 917.13'541044






Reviewed by W.J. Keith

W.J. Keith is a retired professor of English at the University of Toronto and author A Sense of Style: Studies in the Art of Fiction in English-Speaking Canada.


This short but informative guidebook is worthwhile, though it provides a
notable example of the confusions created by modern commercial
packaging. It is, in fact, a useful study in local history, and will
appeal to those who have a genuine interest in the past and present of
the Toronto waterfront. The author has an encyclopedic knowledge of the
area’s buildings, parks, and historical sites. Those desiring further
information about, for example, the man for whom Sir Casimir Gzowski
Park is named, how Ellis Avenue and Leslie Street got their names, or
Toronto Island and the Canadian National Exhibition will find the
answers to their questions here.

But for some reason the author—or his publisher—felt the need to
enliven the material. Hence the hearty, imperative title, and the oddly
inaccurate subtitle (you don’t have to be a jogger, a cyclist, or a
boater to derive benefit from this book, though a preparedness to walk
is obviously desirable). In addition, Filey feels obliged to employ a
style associated with tabloid newspapers, excessively colloquial to the
point of slanginess, with jokes regularly included in case we lose
interest in the bald historical facts. Frankly, I doubt that many people
who enjoy this style are likely to read the book, while many of its more
serious readers will find it irritating and distracting.

Having said that, let me concentrate on the handbook’s positive
qualities. It is divided into three “Walks,” the longest along the
waterfront itself, another concentrated on the dock area, and the third
devoted to Toronto Bay and Toronto Island. All are illustrated by maps
(indicating the position of places of interest) and by both modern and
earlier photographs. This, then, despite its “pop” appearance, is a
serviceable, compact, fact-filled guidebook for the thoughtful,
historically minded Torontonian.


Filey, Mike., “Discover and Explore Toronto's Waterfront: A Walker's Jogger's Cyclist's Guide to Toronto's Lakeside Sites and History. Rev. ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,