Fron­tier City

Book by Shawn Mi­callef Sig­nal (hardcover, 259 pages)


There has never been a bet­ter time to write a book on Toronto. The city is un­der­go­ing un­prece­dented growth and is revered glob­ally for its mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, its rel­a­tively low crime rate and its po­lite­ness. But there is an­other Toronto, the one for­mer Mayor Rob Ford showed the world not long ago: one that re­mains tan­gled in pub­lic tran­sit stand­offs, strug­gles with an out-of-con­trol hous­ing mar­ket, and where sub­ur­ban­ites feel (rightly) un­der­served by city hall. That’s the ver­sion Shawn Mi­callef taps into with Fron­tier City. Mi­callef, who has a lo­cal fol­low­ing as an ur­ban is­sues writer, is also an avid walker, so his book is mostly an on-foot jour­ney through parts un­known, through­out which he is as much in awe of a city he loves as he is crit­i­cal of it. What he cap­tures best is the com­pli­cated, messy, some­times naïve way in which Toronto has come of age – a very re­cent phe­nom­e­non. The take­away is that the city is un­der­go­ing a mor­pho­sis of sorts, where the gains (new ar­rivals, a boom­ing econ­omy) and losses (af­ford­abil­ity, for one) are adding up to a make-it-or-break-it mo­ment.

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