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Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City 1919-1939

Cotter, Charis

Published by Firefly Books, Toronto, 2004
ISBN 10: 1552978990 / ISBN 13: 9781552978993
/ Condition: Near Fine / Soft cover
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City ...

Publisher: Firefly Books, Toronto

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Trade Paperback

Book Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition.


Square 4to. 223 pp., index, b/w photographs throughout. Signed (no inscription) on title page. Cover shows light rubbing and one short scratch. Bookseller Inventory # 001851

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Winner of Heritage Toronto's Award of Excellence, Book category in 2005.

The pace of life in Toronto picked up after 1919 and never slowed down again. During the 1920s and '30s, Toronto went through massive changes that affected the physical and the social life of the city. In these two decades between World War I and World War II, Toronto was finding its place in the swiftly changing world of the twentieth century.

Toronto Between the Wars features 180 archival photographs of Toronto during this fascinating period. Each picture is accompanied by a captivating story about some aspect of life in the city.

During this period, cars became commonplace, the downtown skyline changed as new skyscrapers were built, and women's roles changed dramatically. Then the Depression sent the economy into a tailspin, unemployment became rampant and poverty took its toll. People struggled to afford the basic necessities and lived under the shadow of a growing threat of another war in Europe.

The text reveals little known facts, such as how a leading retail family kept their interest in a major downtown property secret for twenty years. Photographs capture unguarded moments with startling immediacy: a tired but happy group of disheveled merrymakers waiting for a bus; two women in flouncy bridesmaid dresses; an old man cleaning the statue of Queen Victoria; and children buying fish from an itinerant fishmonger.

With intriguing pictures and absorbing text, Toronto Between the Wars offers a rare opportunity to observe life in Toronto during a critical time in its history.

From the Author:

Writing this book was a labour of love for me. I've always been drawn to the older buildings and neighbourhoods in Toronto, where I can catch a glimpse of the city of the past. The 1920s and 1930s in Toronto were particularly interesting, sandwiched between the two World Wars. Massive changes took place at this time, leaving their mark on the city and the people who lived here. A new and improved city-wide transportation system came into being; elegant Art Deco skyscrapers sprang up downtown; Prohibition, jazz and shifting social mores flavoured the twenties and the Depression and social unrest dominated the thirties. Hemlines went up, movies were more popular than ever, radio arrived and cars and trucks replaced horses.

The people who lived in Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s come alive in the evocative pictures in this book. The rich appear on horseback at a fox hunt and at the races at Woodbine Stadium in their furs and top hats. The poor sleep in a bandshell at Queen's Park and line up for food at a soup kitchen. Workers march in the May Day parade and two little girls take their dolls for a walk along Sunnyside boardwalk.

I discovered fascinating details about Toronto at this time, including what made a baby a winner at the annual CNE baby contest (health and cleanliness), what swimsuits were made of (wool) and what a jitney was (a truck used as a taxi during a transit strike).

I hope that readers will be as captivated as I was with this period in Toronto's history.

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