Category Archives: books about Toronto

Toronto Public Etiquette Guide by Dylan Reid


Cover of the “Toronto Public Etiquette Guide” by Dylan Reid.

The  book, “Toronto Public Etiquette Guide,” by Dylan Reid displays an intimate knowledge of the habits and customs of Torontonians. The photo on its cover reminds me of the number of times I have seen people committing breaches of the rules in close proximity to signs asking them to refrain from such an activity. Other than smoking near “No Smoking Signs,” the most common one that I encounter is dog owners allowing their pets to urinate beside signs on lawns that state: “Please keep dogs off grass.” This behaviour is not mentioned in the book by Dylan Reid. Perhaps it will be added at a later date. However, the book is an excellent read and I thoroughly enjoyed it as it allowed me to evaluate my own habits to see if I conform to the behaviour that Torontonians expect.

During the last decade, the issue of dogs peeing on private property has become more important, particularly in the downtown area. Green spaces are under increased pressure as parking lots and empty building lots disappear and become condominium sites. Due to the shortage of land, the green spaces surrounding new condominiums are quite modest in size. Despite this, maintaining the grass in front or around the buildings is difficult. Some buildings have garden committees, with residents working to maintain the condo’s garden areas. For them, it is very frustrating to find large brown spots on the grass due to dog pee. Fortunately, most dog owners are responsible and do not allow their dogs to defecate on the grass.

I highly recommend Dylan Reid’s book. It’s fun to read and perhaps, you too, will evaluate your personal habits to see if you adhere to Toronto’s rules of etiquette when interacting with your fellow citizens. 

P.S. Dylan Reid’s book is available for a mere $15.00 at the Spacing Store, located in the building at 401 Richmond Street West.

A Toronto custom that is about to end, even though it displays excellent public etiquette. 

During the past year, I have become aware of the number of transit riders on the TTC’s King Street line who, when exiting by the front doors, express thanks to the driver. Drivers usually acknowledge with a short response. There may be other cities where this occurs, but I have never witnessed it other than in Toronto.

I observe this custom often as  I now must sit in a handicap seat at the front of the King streetcar. It is truly a pleasure to watch these brief moments of personal contact between operators and riders. However, during rush hours, due to overcrowding, saying thanks does not occur as frequently.

Unfortunately, when people ride the new streetcars on lines such as Spadina, they are not able to express their thanks to the driver as he/she is inside a protected cab. I love the new streetcars, but I am saddened by the demise of the friendly custom of expressing “thanks.” However, it will remain possible to do so on the TTC buses.

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For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book, published by History Press:

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)


Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine:…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for a link to order this book:

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21


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The ten most common characteristics of Canadians

 In the novel “Arse Over Teakettle, Book One of the Toronto Trilogy,” the main character is a young boy named Tom Hudson. He tells of his father’s version of the ten most common characteristics of Canadians. Tom’s father is a proud Canadian, but loves to poke fun at himself and his fellow countrymen. His tongue-in-cheek sense of humour is reflected in the following passage from the book in which he discusses with his son the traits that Canadians share in common.


1. Canadians are possessed with the seasons and never stop talking about them. Without weather to grumble about, they would be forced to remain silent in elevators, or heaven forbid, go out and vote in an election for something to do. (Note: the election of October 2015 proved that this characteristic is now in question.)

2. Before Canadians will believe that something or someone is great, they require confirmation by other nations, especially Americans. However, after they guzzle two bottles of Canadian wine, they concede that their vintages are among the world’s finest and the hangovers are “world class.” (apologies to the excellent vintners of Ontario and B.C.)

3. Canadians not living in the Toronto area, all know that it is an evil place, even if they have never stepped foot within its precincts. Astute political observers expect a Toronto Separatist Party to develop sometime in the near future.

4. In a crowd, Canadians prefer invisibility to being obvious. They are invisible when in foreign lands, despite the fact that they are the only people in the world who speak the English language without an accent (wink wink!). Also, they are the only North Americans who know that the final letter of the alphabet is pronounced “Zed.” They also know what “double-double” means. In summer, they have barbeques, not “barbies” or “cook-outs.”

5. Though Canada is not a Christian nation by constitutional law, the majority believe in a code of ethics that is similar to “Christian values,” whether they are a Muslim, Jew, Buddhists, atheist, or agnostic. The phrase, “I’m going to put up an agnostic tree next Christmas,” is as Canadian as hockey, maple syrup, or Tim Bits.

6. Canadians strive to see both sides of an argument. Tolerance and compromise are preferred to dogmatism. However, if their favourite hockey team does not make it to the play-offs, they allow no arguments over the statement, “Well, there’s always next year.”

7. They are passive by nature, hate to make a fuss, and prefer to keep their opinions private. (The latter quality, I might add, is now being destroyed by Facebook and Twitter.) However, if they are aroused, they can become a potent force. An international hockey tournament is a sure-fire way to arouse the land of the maple leaf. They are quick to adopt Europe’s finest sporting traditions (Google articles written about “crazed” soccer fans at professional games.)

8. Patriotism is an internal emotion, independent of flags, symbols, and rousing anthems. Besides, most of them do not know the lyrics of their national anthem. They would hold their hands over their hearts when saluting the flag, but during most of the year, it is too cold to take their hands out of our pockets.

9. They are usually practical by nature, though it is said that Canadians are the only people in the world who step out of the shower to take a pee.

10. The “GST” they hate with a passion and love asking, “Can I pay cash?” (wink-wink). As well, they believe they should obey the law, even if it is inconvenient. However, they do not recognize any customs that refer to “tipping,” and resent adding the expected fifteen or twenty percent to their restaurant bills.

It might be added that if Americans are asked the difference between a canoe and a Canadian, they reply that a canoe tips.

Similar to Tom’s fictional dad, I am also a proud Canadian, but cannot not resist poking fun at myself and my fellow countrymen through my writing. I have written eight books, fiction and non-fiction, which employ Toronto as a background. My home page lists the books and provides a short description of their content. Two more books will be available in the spring of 2016 (see below).

To view the Home page for this blog:

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

To view over 130 posts on this blog about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

My most recent publication is entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen.” The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


A link to place an order for this book: Book is also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop (TIFF) and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

Another book about Toronto’s old movie theatres, published by Dundurn Press, contains 80 more theatres and will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” 

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London England), explores 75 of the city’s heritage buildings. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016. 




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