Imagining Toronto

Amy Lavender Harris

ISBN 978-1-894469-39-5

$21.95 CDN / US
336 pp

In Imagining Toronto, Amy Lavender Harris ventures deep into the imagined city — the Toronto of fiction, poetry, and essays — where she dowses for meaning in the literature of the city on the lake as its inhabitants understand, remember, and dream it. By tracing Toronto’s literary genealogies from their origins in First Nations stories to today’s graphic novels, Harris delineates a great city’s portrayal in its literature, where the place of dwelling is coloured by the joy and the suffering, the love and the sorrows, of the people who have played out their lives on the written page. Through tales of the city’s neighbourhoods and towers, its ravines and wild places, its role as a multicultural city, as a place of work and leisure, Harris reminds us that the reality of Toronto has been captured by its writers with a depth and complexity that go far beyond the reductive clichés of Toronto as either a provincial “Hogtown” or a pretentious “world class” city. Michael Ondaatje once noted that “before the real city could be seen it had to be imagined.” Imagining Toronto shows just how richly and completely it has been, if only we would look.


“For my money, I would require any candidate for public office in Toronto to certify that he or she had read this book with care.”
John Sewell, former mayor of Toronto, writing in Ontario History.

Amy Lavender Harris’s Imagining Toronto shortlisted for the Gabrielle Roy Prize, which honours the best work of Canadian literary criticism published in English.


Imagining Toronto named as a winner in the 2011 Heritage Toronto Awards.


  1. Welcome to the Imagining Toronto Course! « Imagining Toronto - January 18, 2012

    […] Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press, 2010) […]

Leave a Reply