ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Reading: Toronto, Markham, Ontario: The Postcard Factory, a Review

Updated on May 1, 2013
Toronto flag at CNE
Toronto flag at CNE | Source

Roots here, from everywhere

Toronto, Markham, Ontario: The Postcard Factory, ISBN 1-55233-064-8 p.p. 32


'I didn't know The Postcard Factory published books!' might many people's initial reaction. Well, trust me, it does, and this published item about Toronto which is at least a booklet, contains incisive text — scrupulously bilingual in English and French — by way of descriptions of a good selection of photographs, which (of course) were probably themselves once used in postcards, or are destined to be. (In fact, not all the text is accompanied by photographs, either.)

The text to the photograph selection, written variously by Mike Dobel of Masterfile and Chris Chong and others, gives a pithy and thought-provoking introduction to the history and culture of Canada's largest city. For a work of this nature, I am particularly struck by the historical references.

In Canadian history, the significance of storming of the Plains of Abraham, Quebec City, by British forces is often stressed, but its consequences for what was to be Canada's largest city were to become far-reaching. If Quebec City changed ownership to the Crown, then, under a different kind of transaction, so did what is now Toronto, when, soon afterwards the Crown purchased it from Mississauga First Nations (or 'Indians', as the booklet still calls them). Remarkably, as recently as 1795, what is now Toronto still had as few as 12 houses, but the city saw rapid growth in the 19th century, and was incorporated in 1834 (1).

Toronto's most famous street — Yonge Street — is depicted and described; the editors refer to its various historical aspects (2): its original rôle in military communications from Fort York; the subsequent, cultural presence of the Upper Canada Bible and Tract Society and Teperance Hall; the opening of the first subway in Canada occurred here in 1954; and now its neon lights, which are very much a defining feature.

One of Toronto's most famous, historic buildings, St Lawrence Hall, dating from 1850, is depicted and described (3); and interestingly, this structure, with is conspicuous cupola and neo-Classical lines, is shown flying the Canadian Maple Leaf flag rather than the provincial flag of Ontario.

An interesing, historical event to which reference is made is the visit of novelist Charles Dickens to Toronto in 1840, who reported how this then gas-lit city was well paved and commercially well appointed; thus showing how its contemporary reputation for being very clean and organized has a well founded, historical basis (4). (I myself recently returned to the Toronto area from some towns in Europe and can attest to this being an abiding impression!) Wth its great growth, Toronto having eclipsed Montreal from that city's predominant position in Canada is another, noted, historical fact.

Indeed, the expansion of Toronto has come to include a huge proportion of its population with origins elsewhere: 60%, in fact: almost the concluding portion of the text stresses the great drawing power of the city (5).

Among its fine photos, the one on p. 32 showing the CN Tower at twilight — both sedate and dynamic — with the lights of the city reflected in Lake Ontario, is for me the most impressive of all.

April 29, 2013


(1) Toronto, p. 9

(2), op. cit., p. 10

(3) op. cit., p. 12

(4) op. cit., p. 25

(5) op. cit., p. 31. Here I am reminded of Edward Said, late, displaced Palestinian author of his memoir Out of Place, London: Granta Books, 1999, where as a longstanding New York City resident, in which everyone seemed to come from somewhere else, he thus felt completely at home!

MJFenn is an independent writer based in Ontario, Canada.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)