Yesterday was the day for the Reading Line. I heard the flow of so many beautiful words that I hesitate to blog about it, but I’ll press on with my usual words and pictures to share my experience.
It was raining overnight, still raining at 7 am, and sprinkling at 9. Nevertheless, intrepid cyclists and book fans gathered at Book City. Think about the number of potential shoppers these bikes represent, occupying just two or three parking spaces….
Janet Joy coordinates with Dorothy from 11 Division. They escorted us through major intersections and made life easier for everyone.
A ribbon cutting (naturally a green ribbon), with Sarah Doucette, Peggy Nash, Cheri diNovo, Amanda and Janet Joy, some of our featured authors, Laurie Featherstone, and representatives from Cycle Toronto, Parks People, and the Friends of the Green Line.
We start off at our hosts, Book City, where Catherine Bush reads from her novel Accusation.
Some sweet treats provided by Sweet Flour Bake Shop that is right next door to Book City. I like the jump start cookie since it doesn’t have nuts or chocolate (I have allergies to both).
Now it’s time to hit the road. Janet Joy is assembling the people who will be riding with us. The sun has come out!
and we’re off!
Going a short way along Bloor to Jane.
The police took keeping us safe very seriously. Over seriously at times, but it was nice to have the peace of mind. Here we are turning at Jane and heading north.
I have never seen so many bikes on Jane St. Do you think Janet Joy is having a good time?
Along the Annette bike lane.
Regrouping at Keele.
Under the railpath.
Left on Symington.
Symington, approaching Davenport.
We rode along Davenport for a while, and a couple of blocks past Landsdowne we turned south on Lightbourn towards Geary Ave. This way, we cut off the diagonal portion of the Green Line that I scouted out last week. Just as well for this larger group of cyclists, and Laurie’s traveling bookmobile.
Our first stop, where Dave Harvey, director of Parks People, talks to us about the Green Line, and the vision of what it could be as a linear park connecting neighbourhoods along this rail line running east west, and following the hydro corridor further to the northwest to Earlscourt Park and beyond.
Next up, Shawn Micallef, co-publisher of Spacing Magazine, talking again about the Green Line, and how it brings a bit of the wild into the heart of the city. It was a treat to meet him since I am a big fan of Spacing, although I admit I don’t buy every single issue. I did buy a copy of his latest book: The trouble with brunch.
As I noted last week, the biggest obstacles to the Green Line are the crossings with major streets. Here we are crossing Dufferin, which is no problem on this special day due to the efforts of 11 Division.
This bit of Geary is still a bit industrial, but as soon as we rejoin the hydro corridor, we’ll see more green spaces.
Our next stop is at this splash pad in the Geary Ave. Parkette.
Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer relates an amusing anecdote about an earlier short story, in which a woman is followed by a pack of feral dogs and coyotes. Her character is at one of the entrances to High Park subway station, and her editor at Granta has an issue with the word “parkette”, which apparently is not in the OED. It turns out that “parkette” is a distinctly Canadian word. You can see that we’ve picked up a reasonable number of people en route.
She then reads to us from her novel All the Broken Things.
and then off we go towards the next stop.
Next up: Amy Lavender Harris reads an excerpt about a woman visualizing death by car while riding a bicycle. This cut a bit close to the bone.
The sky is getting darker, and it even starts spitting a bit of rain.
Next, across Shaw St to our final stop at the east end of Frankel Lambert Park.
I took this picture just as Laurie (of two wheels green delivery) was remarking that I weave when I’m shooting and it looks a bit dangerous.
She worked hard pedaling all the books the whole way, and she was going to have to move house later that same day!
The sky clears again.
Christina Palassio, who has worked with the Stop Community Food Centre, talks about the importance of food in community building, particularly in underserved areas of the city.
Finally, an uplifting spoken word performance by Tanya Neuemeyer.
After all the readings, there were some sandwiches on offer from Vert Catering, and some near beer from Premium Near Beer, both vendors that deliver by bike. Vert catering noted that he didn’t anticipate that the books and bikes crowd would be so heavily vegan or vegetarian. I took a pulled chicken sandwich to help him out, which gave me the fuel to attend to the rest of my day. At this point, I had to leave the ride which looped back to Jane St.
Here’s a video from the ride.
Apologies to Riders Cycle and Board; one of the shots was taken on your doorstep at Geary and Dovercourt, and I mislabeled it Geary and Ossington. I’m too tired to go back and fix it.
A big thanks to Amanda and Janet Joy for putting together this wonderful event.
The crossover between the CanLit, Urbanism and Bike crowds made it a unique experience.
I’m also left with a stack of great reading material, analog for a change.
In this time of virtually unlimited white noise on the internet (to which I’m aware I contribute), and Amazon Prime (soon with drone delivery) it was wonderful to meet some local authors, to hear their words as well as their stories, and to support local businesses.
Update: coverage from Dandyhorse Magazine.