uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto

Since the election of Mayor David Miller in November 2003, Toronto has experienced a wave of civic pride and enthusiasm not felt in decades. At long last, Torontonians see their city as a place of possibility and potential. Visions of a truly workable, liveable and world-class city are once again dancing in citizens’ heads. In the past two years, this spirit has, directly or indirectly, manifested itself in multifarious forms: in writer Sheila Heti’s sui generis lecture series, Trampoline Hall; in the transformation of derelict hotels such as the Drake and the Gladstone into cultural hotspots; in renewed interest in waterfront revitalization and public transportation; in exciting, controversial architectural developments such as the OCAD building, the expansion of the ROM and the AGO; in the [murmur] project, which catalogues stories about Toronto neighbourhoods and broadcasts them to people’s cell phones; in the explosion of the local independent music scene.

uTOpia aims to capture and chronicle that spirit, collecting writing by many of the people inspired by and involved in these projects. Featuring passionate, visionary essays by thirty-four different journalists, artists, thinkers, architects and activists, uTOpia is a compendium of ideas, opinions and strategies. The anthology explores plans to redevelop the Island airport into a Ward’s Island-style community; how the Zeidler family is energizing artist-run centres; what a car-free Kensington Market might mean; the necessity and beauty of laneway housing; the way past efforts to combat devastating developments like the Spadina Expressway have shaped current activism; what a utopian Toronto might look like mapped out; and much, much more. Playful, erudite and accessible, uTOpia writes Toronto as it is shared and created by the people who live here. Though it is by no means a complete picture of what is happening in the city right now, it will hopefully show that what was once just a T-shirt slogan – I Heart T.O. – is now genuine, heartfelt sentiment.

Contributors include Howard Akler, Andrew Alfred-Duggan, Jacob Allderdice, Bert Archer, James Bow, Nicole Cohen, Jonny Dovercourt, Dale Duncan, Philip Evans, Mark Fram, Misha Glouberman, Chris Hardwicke, Sheila Heti, Alfred Holden, Luis Jacob, Lorraine Johnson, Edward Keenan, Mark Kingwell, John Lorinc, Sally McKay, Heather McLean, Dave Meslin, Shawn Micallef, Derek Murr, Ninjalicious, Darren O’Donnell, Planning Action, Barbara Rahder, Dylan Reid, Erik Rutherford, Jeffrey Stinson, Deanne Taylor, Conan Tobias, Stéphanie Verge, Adam Vaughan and Marlena Zuber.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Mayor David Miller


Erik Rutherford – Toronto: a city in our image

Edward Keenan – 'Making a scene: a bunch of youngish indie rockers, political activists and small-press literati are creating the cultural history of Toronto'

Shawn Micallef – 'Psssst. Modern Toronto just wants some respect.

Nicole Cohen – 'The Zeidler effect: how one family transformed Toronto

Derek Murr – 'The history of Toronto�s future


Mark Kingwell – 'Reading Toronto: architecture and utopia

Lorraine Johnson – 'Roots to roofs: the greening of Toronto

Howard Akler – 'Home improvement: in appreciation of innovative houses'

Dylan Reid – 'The St. George campus takes shape'

St�phanie Verge – 'Changing lanes: a conversation with Jeffery Stinson'

Philip Evans – 'Paved impressions'

Jacob Allderdice – 'The Toronto Islands: a love story'

Sheila Heti – 'Dream of the waterfront'


Sally McKay – 'Fly on Queen Street'

Misha Glouberman – 'No place like Kensington'

John Lorinc – 'Stripping away stereotypes: Toronto�s retail plazas'

Ninjalicious – 'Infiltration of Toronto in progress'

James Bow – 'Where have all the subways gone?'

Heather McLean – 'Go west, young hipster: the gentrification of Queen Street West'

Darren O�Donnell – 'Toronto the teenager: why we need a Children�s Council'

TOols & TOys

Conan Tobias interviews Alfred Holden – 'Streetcars, street lights and street smarts'

Dale Duncan – 'I ♥ infrastructure'

Deborah Cowen, Ute Lehrer & Andrea Winkler for Planning Action – 'The secret lives of toilets: a public discourse on �private� space in the city'

Chris Hardwicke – 'Velo-city'

Luis Jacob – 'Flashlight: public art and the mothership connection'


Bert Archer – 'Making a Toronto of the imagination

Jonny Dovercourt – 'Making a green scene'

Barbara Rahder & Patricia Wood – 'A funny thing happened on the way to the future'

Dave Meslin – '2019'

Adam Vaughan – 'An age-old idea'

Mark Fram – 'Situationist Toronto: three mappings'

Deanne Taylor – 'Between uTOpias'