Ontario's public broadcaster, whose mission includes "supporing citizen engagement through in-depth current affairs journalism from an Ontario perspective." As a contributor to TVO's website, I've provided context for the current provincial news cycle, as well as noting highs and lows of Ontario history.
Visit my TVO contributor page.
The Ontario man who invented Hollywood
Meet H.J. Whitley, who went from Strathroy to Tinseltown.
In 1983, Gorbachev took a stroll in small-town Ontario that helped shape the future of the Soviet Union
That small-town being the one I grew up in, Amherstburg.
The Gestapo Speech: How charges of a premier’s ‘secret political police’ roiled the 1945 election
One of the most brutal provincial elections in Ontario history, where the CCF tried to fight a smear campaign.
In WWI, these Canadian soldiers brought a special weapon to the war effort: hockey
The story of the 228th Battalion, whose short existence was a factor in the creation of the National Hockey League.
The life and legacy of Leonard Braithwaite, Ontario’s first Black MPP
Elected in 1963, the Liberal took on segregated schools and sexism — and faced prejudice at Queen’s Park.
‘Everything about it rocked’: How Windsor’s CKLW reckoned with the brand-new CanCon rules
In 1970, the AM pop-music powerhouse was in the running to be the second-most-listened-to radio station in North America. But then the CRTC announced new guidelines — and changed the station.
19th-century NIMBYism and the typhus epidemic in Ontario
In the 1840s, thousands of Irish emigrants contracted typhus on their journey to Canada. When they got here, they were met with quarantine — and public fear.
‘Point Your Way to Safety’: The complicated history of crosswalks in Ontario
The emergence of modern pedestrian crosswalks during the 1950s.
How an Ontario premier triggered a federal election
The ever-erratic Mitch Hepburn didn't achieve the result he desired.
‘Stop the slaughter of the innocents’: Meet the anti-vaxxers of 1919
Mixed reactions on how to handle a smallpox outbreak in post-First World War Toronto.
How Hamilton lost its chance to win the Stanley Cup
And lost its NHL franchise along the way.
When the Spanish flu came to Ontario
A century ago, the virus infected hundreds of thousands of Ontarians, spreading fear and panic throughout the province.
The story of Ontario’s last segregated Black school
Post-Confederation, Ontario was one of only two provinces to legislate Black segregated schools. In 1965, thanks to Black parents and politicians, the last one in the province finally closed.
Free-speech controversies on campus — 1930s-style
The story of Frank Underhill, the U of T professor who battled the media and his school's administration for the right to speak his mind.
The year the UFOs came to power in Ontario
In the 1919 provincial election, a protest vote resulted in a crushing loss for the Conservatives — and an unexpected victory for the United Farmers of Ontario.
The “lady Santa” controversy of 1979
Many shoppers at Scarborough’s Morningside Mall were shocked to discover that its Santa was a woman. And many Ontarians were appalled when she was fired.
How a radical idea turned Loblaws into a supermarket empire
In 1919, the concept of plucking your own products from grocery-store shelves was pretty out-there. But an Ontario man named Theodore Pringle Loblaw saw promise in it.
Get to Know a Great Lake: Ontario
A series sketching each of the Great Lakes.
For a decade, Torontoist allowed my storytelling skills to blossom, especially when it came to sharing stories from Toronto’s past. Beyond award-winning work on the “Historicist” column (which I contributed to alongside a distinguished list of writers), I explored the city’s heritage through the medium of advertising, and provided historical context to issues dominating the current news cycle.
But my work for Torontoist wasn't confined to the past. Present-day topics I covered included provincial budgets, gallery exhibitions, theatre festivals, land use politics, and touring spaces used for international events like the Pan American games.
Visit my Torontoist contributor page.
The Telegram Sets, The Sun Rises
Winner of the Short Publication category at the 2013 Heritage Toronto Awards.
“We Are Confident That Victory Is in Sight”
Nominated for a Heritage Toronto Award in 2014, a Historicist column on Nelson Mandela’s visit to Toronto four months after he was released from prison.
Voting Rights in Toronto
Winner of the Short Publication category at the 2015 Heritage Toronto Awards, this article offers a guide to the history who has (and hasn’t) been allowed to cast votes in city races.
The Toronto Patty Wars
When overzealous government bureaucrats and Caribbean treats don’t mix.
“Sip ‘n Sex” in North York
Concerned citizens and a future Toronto powerbroker unite to battle the horror of rowdy teens at drive-ins in mid-1960s suburbia.
Toronto Invents: The Whoopee Cushion
Part of a series on items invented in Toronto.
The KKK Took My Baby Away
In 1930, the Ku Klux Klan raided a home in Oakville to prevent an interracial marriage.
Toronto Sun Columnists on the Wrong Side of History Through the Ages
The tabloid's opinions haven't always stood the test of time
“The Bull in a China Shop Had Nothing on This Cow”
One cow's Sunday morning rampage across downtown Toronto.
Launched in 2003, Spacing "uncovers the joys, obstacles and politics of Canada’s big cities by cutting through the cynicism that often pervades any discussion about urban issues. Spacing pushes readers to think critically about how they can shape the public spaces that surround their everyday lives." From a small local magazine Spacing has grown into a national website and a retail store.
In 2016, I co-wrote with editor Matthew Blackett 50 Objects That Define Toronto, the first of a series of pocket-sized books celebrating various aspects of city life (magazine preview). I also contributed to the following books in the series (check the Spacing Store for availability):
Toronto Public Etiquette Guide (written by Dylan Reid, 2017)
25 Days That Changed Toronto (edited by Dylan Reid and Matthew Blackett, 2017)
50 Toronto Hidden Gems & Curiosities (edited by Dylan Reid. 2018)
Packaged Toronto (2021)
Souvenirs of Toronto Sports (2022)
You may know them as the people responsible for Heritage Minutes and The Canadian Encyclopedia. But Historica Canada is much more than those projects - its programming is dedicated to "enhancing awareness of Canadian history and citizenship" through educational outreach, community programs, and much more.
Visit my Historica Canada contributor page.
Canadian Encyclopedia entry on the creator of Canada Dry ginger ale.
Canadian Encyclopedia entry on the pioneering infant cereal.
"George Brown Shot By Disgruntled Employee"
A sample of the entries I wrote for the Toronto in Time app, a collaborative project with the City of Toronto and Heritage Toronto.
Canadian Encyclopedia entry on the heart of Toronto's transit system.
Canadian Encyclopedia entry on the Canadian grocery giant.
I have also contributed timelines to several educational packages, including responsible government and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
The annual full-sized visitors guide to Toronto, published by Tourism Toronto.
My articles have covered topics ranging from the renaissance in cultural architecture in Toronto to how several prominent streets earned their names.
Buildings that Broke the Rules (2018): profiles of local landmarks that have generated praise and controversy.
Period Perfect (2019): a look at the architecture of several Toronto neighbourhoods, stretching from downtown to Scarborough.
A Toronto institution since 1892.
Since December 2020, I have written a weekly history quiz for the Sunday Star's "Together" section.
Test your knowledge on some recent editions.
I have also written several articles providing walking tours along the city's streets. Check my strolls along several historic streets, through Kensington Market, around Upper Jarvis, and the Financial District.
THIS SPACE COULD BE YOU
The successor to eye weekly, The Grid launched in 2011 with the goal of providing a younger, street-level view of the city. Before folding in 2014, it was praised for its content and eye-catching design.
I wrote two columns for its online edition:
Retro T.O. (2012) looked at elements of the city's recent history
Ghost City (2012-13) used addresses and architecture to explore Toronto's past
Besides these columns, I occasionally wrote infographic content.
Visit my page of The Grid stories, including some updates, at my Tales of Toronto site.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
Between 2012 and 2020, I wrote or co-wrote the annual calendar available to members of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an organization "whose mission is to defend and enhance the quality and quantity of Canadian programming in the Canadian audio-visual system."
Excerpts from past calendars:
Giving it New Life (2012): how As It Happens handled a court injunction while the show was on air.
Confederation Train (2017): a sample page from a Centennial-themed edition of the calendar, looking at the train which brought Canadian history across the country in 1967.
Saturday afternoon TV (2019): wrestling and commercials for international aid agencies - what more could you want for weekend viewing?
Eleanor Collins (2020): the story of the first black performer to headline their own Canadian television show.
Discussing the early days of automobiles in Toronto for an online bonus feature for the "Murdoch Takes Manhattan" episode of the long-running turn-of-the-century mystery series.
Discussing the 40th anniversary of the Eaton Centre in 2017 on CBC Radio's Toronto morning show.
Discussing the evolution of the LCBO, in relation to the opening of legal marijuana sales in Ontario.
Discussing some of the weirder and darker moments in the history of the Globe and Mail upon the paper's 175th anniversary. Accompanying article I wrote.
I contributed research and writing to the following public exhibitions:
Peel 150: Stories of Canada (Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, 2017)
Tying into Canada 150, a look at the history of Peel Region through historical objects. Contributed to the text presented on interactive screens.
Music From People City (Myseum of Toronto, 2017-2018)
Contributed to the "Myseum X" interactive space.
War's End: Peel Stories of World War I (Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, 2018-2019)
A look at the aftermath of World War I on Peel County. Contributed to the interpretive panels.
A variety of projects for a variety of clients, demonstrating my flexibility to cover the topic at hand.
Quill and Quire (January/February 2014): an article on the launch of the Aga Khan Museum's publishing division.
We Are Playing for Keeps: a piece for the Toronto Foundation on its program to improve health through neighbourhood athletics.
Shine a Light: articles from a magazine promoting the renewal of Toronto's venerable Massey Hall. The overall publication won a Heritage Toronto Award.
120 Years of the Canadian Red Cross: a look at the humanitarian agency's history through a variety or objects. Samples of my contributions include early water safety badges and street fundraising tins.
Why Incorporate Moss Walls into Architecture: an example of work published on ArchDaily promoting AEC Daily's online educational courses for the architectural, construction, engineering, and interior design industries.