Student co-writes book about Toronto

York PhD student Tanya Gulliver (BA ’91, MES ’09) is one of three co-writers for the recently released Toronto Book of Everything: Everything You Wanted to Know About Toronto and Were Going to Ask Anyway.

“The book is targeted to anyone who likes Toronto,” says Gulliver. That includes current and former residents as well as tourists and those just passing through. “I find that everyone who picks it up finds something almost immediately that they didn’t know, and something that they can relate to in some way. A Chinese friend started reading and found out stuff about the Chinese community that she didn’t know. Another person found the profile on Johnny Lombardi and said, ‘Oh I was just on a street named after him the other day and didn’t know who he was.’”

Left: Tanya Gulliver

President of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, Gulliver wrote four-and-a-half of the 11 chapters for the book – "Politics", "Then and Now", "Essentials", "Timeline" and part of "Urban Geography". “It was a very collaborative process…. We probably wrote twice as much as is actually in the book. The harder decisions were what not to include, because there is so much that could be included.”

As someone who grew up in a hamlet outside of Peterborough, Gulliver, who is in the environmental studies program at York, found writing the chapter on urban geography let her discover the nature within the city of Toronto, which she says feeds her inner child.

The Toronto Book of Everything is one of a series of books published by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. There is a Vancouver Book of Everything, a Hamilton Book of Everything, an Ottawa Book of Everything, a Saskatchewan Book of Everything and so on. The Toronto book is the latest in the series.

It is being billed as a book that delves into everything Hogtown has to offer, from the Leafs, cold wet winters and desperately humid summers to BlackBerry-addicted Bay Street financiers and profiles of prominent Torontonians Ed Mirvish, Glenn Gould, David Cronenberg and Rush.

The book is a fact-by-fact summary of Toronto. It includes stories, profiles, interesting statistics and Top 5 lists by the book’s writers and Toronto personalities. Politicians Jack Layton and Olivia Chow name their top five places to go cycling in the city; storyteller Dan Yashinsky talks about five storytelling destinations; former mayor John Sewell points out the top five buildings not to be missed; and climatologist David Phillips lists Toronto’s top five weather extremes. There are about 25 Top 5 lists from local personalities, each weighing in about interesting bits of Toronto culture, history and politics.

“I think that the amount of information that can get put into the book is amazing. I still enjoy reading it because there is just so much to learn,” says Gulliver.

Some fun facts about Toronto:

  • Almost half of the people living in Toronto were not alive when the Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup.
  • Toronto’s 911 emergency services can respond in more than 150 languages.
  • In Toronto, lightning hits about two times per square kilometre annually.
  • The ground-floor bathroom of Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant on Spadina Avenue in Chinatown is believed to be haunted. 
  • In 1899, an eight-room brick house on Bloor Street with slate roof and stone foundation went for $2,100. Today, a two-bedroom unit in the Bellagio condominiums at 300 Bloor Street East rents for $1,900 a month, and a penthouse costs $2.5 million to buy.