Frontier City by Shawn Micallef


Toronto on the Verge of Greatness

Hardcover, 272 pages, ISBN: 9780771059322
Published by Signal (McClelland & Stewart), 2017

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From the publisher:

Toronto is emerging from an identity crisis into a glorious new era.

It began as a series of reports from the civic drama of the 2014 elections. But beyond the municipal circus, writer and commentator Shawn Micallef discovered the much bigger story of a city emerging into greatness. He walked and talked with candidates from all over Greater Toronto, and observed how they energized their communities, never shying away from the problems that exist within them — poverty, violence, racism, and drugs — but advocating solutions that bring people together. Shawn Micallef introduces us to those fighting for a more inclusive vision of Toronto and reveals the promise and potential for a city that has been suffering through a severe identity crisis but is now on a steep upturn. Toronto, he says, is set fair to be a new urban model for cities all over the world. Micallef reveals Toronto in all its rich variety. It is hard, he says, to grasp the vast size and scope of Toronto until you spend a few hours walking through unfamiliar neighbourhoods. Each reveals another adjacent to it, and then another, and another. The city goes on and on, into unheralded ravines and oblique views of the downtown skyline. Hiding in all that geography is not only great beauty, but a force for change that’s been building for decades as people arrived here from every corner of the globe. ‘Frontier City’ is a revelatory view of the Toronto of today and an inspiring vision of the Toronto of the near future.

Praise for Frontier City:

“Cities are our future but they are also becoming more unequal and unaffordable. Combining on-the-ground reporting with an urbanist’s eye for the big picture, Shawn Micallef takes a deep dive into his own Toronto to illuminate the opportunities and challenges facing its people and those of aspiring cities across the globe. A must read for builders of cities and anyone who lives in one.” —Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City?

“There was a time when foreign governments would have sought out Shawn Micallef, so natural a sleuth he is: walking streets and neighbourhoods, crashing Rob Ford parties, and the listening companion of councillors and urban advocates, all the while viewing the city’s disparate corners with relish and an unprejudiced eye. ‘It’s a Canadian thing,’ says Micallef, ‘not to tell our own stories enough.’ We can be thankful that he is the exception.” —Noah Richler, author of The Candidate: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

“Toronto is a city of subtleties, one that doesn’t lend itself to easy description, but there is no one who knows and writes Toronto better than Shawn Micallef and ‘Frontier City’ proves that. It is a book for everyone who has ever loved, and held one’s breath for, any city.” —Tabatha Southey, writer, columnist with The Globe and Mail

“As Toronto grows into a more mature, more compelling city, a new group of non-academic, street-smart urbanists has emerged to appreciate it. . . . Shawn Micallef is one of the sharpest of this sharp-eyed breed.” —The Globe and Mail

About the author:

Shawn Micallef

is a weekly columnist with the Toronto Star, co-founder of Spacing magazine, and an instructor at the University of Toronto. He is a frequent commentator on urban issues and is known for his passion for the city – its geography, architecture, culture, and people. Follow him @ShawnMicallef.


(Credits: Book cover image and publisher’s description have been retrieved from BiblioShare.)

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