Book Reviews

Book Review: Queen Street Toronto's Urban Treasure.

Photography George Fischer and Pascal Arsenau
Text Christopher Hume
Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia
224 pages, $ 29.95

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, banking centre and an important tourism attraction, is unique in many aspects.

Located on the north shore of lake Ontario, the city was the site of First Nation dwelling.

In Toronto, all roads lead to Queen, the street of many colours, cultures cuisines and trades.

Starting in the east at Neville Park, it cuts through the city all the way, and passes through quiet residential neighbourhoods, historic districts, high-rise enclaves, and one of the most interesting and diverse shopping areas in the world.

Any Torontonian will confirm that Queen Street is where it all happens.

Both (old and new) city halls are on Queen Street. The Old City hall, designed by E J Lennox, who was the most prominent architect of the 19th century in the city, was completed in 1899, now a building housing many courts, and the new one designed by Finnish architect, Viljo Revel and completed in 1965 are on the Queen Street.

The New City hall is fronted by Nathan Phillips Square that turn into a skating rink in the winter, and where thousands celebrate New Year’s Eve by either skating or attending an open-air concert sponsored by a local broadcaster.

Queen Street is one of the longest streetcar routes of the city covering 15 kilometres from east to west. The streetcars are always full, and during rush hours “overflowing” with people who always complain that the frequency of cars remains inadequate.

Regardless, route 511 “knits” the street together in a way no subway could possibly do.

A ride in a 511 streetcar gives the rider a historical perspective of the city, dhows how some sections decline; others are renovated and revitalized; yet others contain the most modern architecture imaginable.

Both photographers have done an outstanding job capturing new and old sites and buildings in different locations.

The text written by the architecture critic of The Toronto Star (the largest circulation newspaper in the country), covers every aspect of Queen.

This is an excellent book that deserves a prominent place in every public and home library.

Highly recommended.

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