The Word on the Street

The Word on the Street is an outdoor festival celebrating  books and reading. It promotes literacy and provides an opportunity for adults and children to interact with book and magazine sellers and publishers. It has been held in downtown Toronto for the last 22 years and has grown from a small number of booths to well over 200.

There were representatives from libraries, writers’ groups, poetry writers, sci-fi writers, romance writers, Giller Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, and arts organizations. I met several romance writers who invited me to come to their next meeting to be held in October.

Part of the crowd at Word on the Street, Toronto, 2011.


Many authors were on-site to sign copies of their books.  We received many free books, a few of them signed copies. There were many stages set up for author interviews where the audience could ask questions.  I saw an interview with Guy Vanderhaeghe, a Giller Prize winner and  Chef Michael Smith, who is well-known through his cooking show on the Food channel.  There were over 200 volunteers at the fair, who ensured that everything ran smoothly.

We took the GO (Government of Ontario) train to Toronto and then the subway to the fair. It was the most amazing sight!  The day was warm and sunny with a cooling breeze and the tents were set up down Queen’s Park Street and onto the Queen’s Park grounds, behind the Ontario Legislature.  Children, parents, grandparents, and  young people milled around.  Some tents were swarmed with crowds of interested people but everyone was patient and polite.

A view of Lake Ontario from the GO Train. The footbridge in the foreground is part of the Lakefront Trail.

We had both brought bags with us and they were full by the time we left the fair.  We walked down Wellesley Street all the way to Edwards Street where we had a beautiful lunch at Red Lobster.  It was almost the best part of the day!  I had grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, a garden salad, and a baked potato.  I truly enjoyed every bite.  The restaurant was busy but quiet, the waiter polite and funny, and the food amazing.  John had half of my salad, sole stuffed with cheese and rice, broccoli, and a baked potato.

Where do you think we went after that?  To the World’s Biggest Bookstore on Edwards Street.  I browsed through the Art Department and John almost bought a book by David Baum on Quantum Physics but decided we had enough books for the day.

We walked over to the Eaton Centre where we could hear music and clapping.  There was another celebration across the street in a square and we could see a group performing on a stage.  It was amazing all the activity going on, all the happy people, families enjoying being together, and all outdoors in the sunshine.

We proceeded to walk back to Union Station and we caught the GO Train back to Oshawa, a 45 minute ride.  We had such a nice day, enjoyed each other’s company, and got lots of books to read.

An interesting view of the CN Tower from Front Street, Toronto.


The only thing missing at Word on the Street was any reference to ebooks.  I wonder why the e-book publishers and sellers were not represented.  Anyone?


10 Things I Love About Autumn

It is that time of year again.  It is around 21C (70F) here today so still warm but fall is in the air.  The leaves are just starting to show the change of colour and I am looking forward  to several events that every autumn brings.

  1. The cooler days and crisp nights.  After a summer like we’ve had, it is enjoyable to put on a hoodie to go for an evening walk.
  2. Apples.  I so look forward to fresh apples from Ontario and there are so many different kinds of apples to choose from.  They are truly a delightful fruit.  If they were good enough for Adam and Eve, they’re good enough for me.
  3. Cooking.  I have been busy planning our meals in the slow cooker and the oven.  I think about potatoes, and turnip, squash, zucchini, carrots, and other fall veggies.  In the summer I rarely turn on the oven and when I do it is usually in the early morning for an hour or so.  But now, it just warms the kitchen nicely.  Stews, pasta al forno, casseroles, and skillet dinners.  Mmmmm.
  4. Bowmanville’s Apple Fest.  Every fall, the small town of Bowmanville, ON has an apple celebration which takes over the whole town.  My friend, Eleanor and I have been going for almost ten years.  It has grown from a local event to one that draws crowds from as far away as Toronto.  The whole Main Street is closed to traffic.  Booths are set up.  Craftspeople sell their wares.  We always buy big bags full of apples there and a former colleague sells her home-made honey there as well.  Eleanor and I always plan to stop to have lunch, held in a local church basement and served by the ladies of the congregation.  There is a choice of sandwiches, the best home-made soup, salad, and the most delicious apple crisp served with ice cream.  All this plus tea or coffee for around $5.00.
  5. Baking.  I can turn the oven on again and I plan to use all those apples in mouth-watering recipes.  Apple crisp.  Apple crumble.  Apple pies!  Last year my new recipe was apple pie cake.  It was amazing.  And this year it will be Autumn Apple Bread.  I’ll  let you know how it turns out.
  6. The leaves.  In Ontario as well as all of Eastern Canada the fall foliage display is spectacular.  There even an old steam engine which runs to the Agawa Canyon where I am told the colours are incredible.  In the Toronto area, we have daily news reports on the status of the leaves.  Starting around this time, the radio stations and the weather channels on TV will broadcast what percentage of the leaves have changed, so you can maximize your thrills!  Right now I would say it is around 1%, but further north it may be further along.
  7. Back-to-school sales.  Even retired teachers can enjoy these sales which offer many “treats” to tempt me to buy.  This year I bought myself a very nice little something which I hope will bring many hours of enjoyment.
  8. Church bazaars.  I am sure that church bazaars are held all over Canada, but I just love the ones around here.  There are so many things for sale and there is always a raffle or two.  There is usually a section set aside for serving lunches (which of course Eleanor and I take advantage of).  There is often a used book table.  I once bought twenty Perry Mason books for $2.00.  I’m still reading them. You can buy house plants and knitted goods, and at our favourite bazaar, there is a turkey raffle every hour, where you can buy tickets for a beautiful plump turkey.
  9. Word On The Street.  In Toronto, there is a huge book fair which is held in the grounds of Queen’s Park, the seat of the Government of Ontario.  Book sellers and publishers have booths set up.  There are readings by well-known authors, special deals on magazines and books, and freebies as well.  We try to go every year, and it is nice to browse, even if we don’t buy anything. 
  10. Thanksgiving.  This is my favourite holiday because it focuses on family and gratitude.  In Canada Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October so the leaves are at their peak.  We try to get together with as many family members as possible, but living in different cities makes it difficult.  Sometimes we just stay home and have our Thanksgiving turkey with Jim and Eleanor, our good friends.