Welcome to Mapping Toronto, my not so modest plan to walk each neighbourhood in Toronto and document the sites. I’m still not sure about the sanity behind my idea but it’ll be fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of this sprawling city. This may take years.

Self-portrait of Frank William Micklethwaite
Dedicated to F. W. Micklethwait – the great Canadian photographer who created an invaluable photographic history of Toronto on the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

There are many ways of breaking down Toronto but I’ll be using the official City of Toronto map:

The 140 neighbourhoods used by the City of Toronto were developed to help government and community organizations with their local planning by providing socio-economic data at a meaningful geographic area. The boundaries of these social planning neighbourhoods do not change over time, allowing researchers to examine changes over time.
Neighbourhood Profiles – City of Toronto

I’ve laid out my basic criteria as follows:

  1. The official City of Toronto neighbourhood list will be used.
  2. I have to use the TTC to get to and from each neighbourhood.
  3. The first trip must cover the entire perimeter of the map.
  4. Side trips will be written up separately to highlight notable parts of the neighbourhoods.
  5. When possible, archived photos will be used to show the changes over time.
  6. Each section will try to find something unique about the neighbourhood.
  7. Maps will be made available at a later point.
  8. Some areas will be revisited to showcase different seasons.

I’m sure the list will change a couple of times as I go along and find a better focus. But in the meantime, that’ll do.


 NEIGHBOURHOOD TABLE OF CONTENTS – find them here or by clicking on the menu above  -> Photography and design -> mapping Toronto -> table of contents

 So, why? Well, why not? I have a camera, needed a project and love wandering the city pretending to be a tourist. Every city I’ve lived in, no matter how briefly, I loved to look at it like a tourist. I’d gather up tourist brochures and pad off to see the recommended sites. I’d then travel around other areas, the non touristy spots, looking at them with the same frame of mind – see the city through fresh eyes. Toronto is a real treat when it comes to walking about. I often get on the subway or a bus and pick a stop to get off just to look around. No real reason, just a bit of fun.

Over the past few years, I’ve been spending a lot of times trolling through the Toronto Archives collecting early photos of the city. One of my favourite photographers is F. W. Micklethwaite. He photographed city streets, city works, in progress buildings – pretty much all the stuff I spend an unnatural time photographing. Most of his work was done from 1875, when he emigrated to Toronto to the early 1920s. He was commissioned by Toronto’s Engineering Department to document the building of various public works, from 1891 to 1895 – my favourite part of his collection.

Micklethwaite is buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, so I went looking for his headstone during the summer. It took me 2 hours to find it, wandering back and forth, back and forth until I stumbled across it. I wasn’t going home until I found it! And no wonder I missed it each time I passed.

Photo of F. W. Micklethwaite's headstone

It was worth the hunt. So here’s to F.W. Micklethwaite and his camera. I hope I don’t disgrace his memory.


Catpaw, the mad scribbler

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