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The Toronto Book of the Dead

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Exploring Toronto’s history through the stories of its most fascinating and shadowy deaths.

If these streets could talk…

With morbid tales of war and plague, duels and executions, suicides and séances, Toronto’s past is filled with stories whose endings were anything but peaceful. The Toronto Book of the Dead delves into these: from ancient First Nations burial mounds to the
Paperback, 424 pages
Published September 16th 2017 by Dundurn Press
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Ira Therebel
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book wasn't what I expected it was much better. I didn't look too much into the description and when I started reading it I expected to read about some true crime stories through history happening in Toronto. Unsolved and especially gruesome murders etc.

The book ended up being more historical following the history of Toronto from the days when Indigenous people lived here and dealt with their dead through the times when Toronto was built, all the wars and to our time. The stories were told
Rebecca Upjohn
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating history of Toronto: the good, the bad and the truly horrible...and sometimes the funny. I’m not sure where the phrase “Toronto the good” originated but whoever created that phrase wasn’t considering the city’s history, at least as it is recounted in the context laid out in this book. As someone who grew up in the city and remembers the events from the most recent decades, I found I learned much I didn’t know.

The book covers the Indigenous people who were here long before anyone el
Teena in Toronto
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
I live in Toronto and I'm always looking for books about the history of Toronto so that's why this one caught my eye.

The stories are all focused on death with a Toronto connection. The first story is about the discovery of a 700-year-old mass grave while they were building a subdivision in Scarborough in the 1950s. The last story is about the death of Garry Hoy, a 38-year-old lawyer who in 1993 tested the window on the 24th floor in his downtown office building by hurling his body at it only to
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I went to a book signing at the Guelph indigo at Stone road (as I do as often as I can) I ran into Adam Bunch, his books title caught my attention, I couldn't wait to read it.
So it was a complete page Turner's,I had a hard time getting some sleep,it is about some very interesting history of Toronto that I had never heard before and I have had so many people ask me where to get this book. Each chapter is very detailed and interesting. You have to read this,after you will want to visit as m
Kristine Morris
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Adam Bunch makes Toronto's history very readable. All while reading this book I wondered why Torontonian's don't know and share these stories. You visit anywhere else and strangers you bump into onto the sidewalk all act as local guides. Not just outside our borders but outside our city limits. I've always felt as Torontonian's we have no excuse not to know our history - it's not that long!

I learned a few things about Toronto from reading this book - I didn't know the connection between Sir Hen
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian-history
This was a really delightful, fascinating book. If you're remotely interested in Toronto history, I would recommend giving it a read! The links to the "dead" part of the title are sometimes a bit tenuous, but the wandering, far-reaching look at the past never fails to be fascinating and engaging. The book is basically a collection of snippets from the history of Toronto, arranged by time period. I really appreciated the wide range of topics covered, from the Wendat burial traditions that start t ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I live in Toronto so I was very excited to read this book.

I have worked in the downtown area for many years and have lived in the city for 20 years now. I had no idea how little I knew of it's history until this book. Many of the statues I pass frequently honour those who fought to make Toronto what it is.

Tales of sadness, heartache, heroics, death, disease and murder fill this book. Adam leaves you glued to each chapter with a great mix of famous Canadian politicians, artists, musicians, and au
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book delivers what it promises readers, stories from Toronto’s past with a focus on death and the macabre. The stories are told with a mostly European focus and point of view. There are some Indigenous stories included as well as some of the injustice and racism Indigenous people face. Indigenous peoples are often ignored in these kinds of “popular history” (or any European history if I’m being honest) stories and I appreciate that local Indigenous people’s are specifically acknowledged.

Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun and informative read with a good breadth of stories about people from Toronto’s past. Bunch has an engaging and suspenseful story-telling style that brings vignettes of Toronto history to life.

Full disclosure: Adam is a good friend of mine and I got a mention in the acknowledgements for our Toronto explorations starting in our high school days. He’s been researching and honing his story-telling for years. Telling friends about really cool things while out for a drink or a walk, through hi
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This books is a collection of highly entertaining snippets of Toronto's history, from its founding to the 20th century. They're loosely grouped under the theme of deaths, but that can mean the extinction of an animal or events connected to a world war, so it's really just a way to tie together a bunch of unrelated historical anecdotes. This reminded me a lot of A Curious Guide to London in that respect.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun way to learn more about Toronto's histor
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well this book was very misleading. I still enjoyed it, and it was very interesting to see the history of Toronto. I came to this book hoping for more of a haunted areas of Toronto, or strange and mysterious deaths that are still unsolved. What this book presented was a history of Toronto through it's deaths, but if you wait long enough, all history is based on those deaths. This talked a lot about the lives of those who met their demise, and not so much on the demise itself.

Still, it was a gra
Lisa Day
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book wasn't what I was expecting, but despite that it was amazing. The Toronto Book of the Dead is a must-read not only for Torontonians, but anyone who loves history, which comes alive in this book. Author Adam Bunch did an amazing job of weaving Toronto's history into stories that were enjoyable, informative and memorable. ...more
Virginia Van
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From ancient First Nations' burial mounds to notorious duels to a tragic high rise accident, this book is an amusing and highly readable history of Toronto tracing its growth to through the stories of those who lived - and died - here. A must read for anyone interested in Toronto's stories. ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book consists of a series of profiles of different people and locations in Toronto's history. Well-researched, clearly written, the book answers several of the questions I had about how Toronto works. Highly recommended. ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-hallows-read
Thankfully, this book challenges the oft-repeated "truth" that Canadian History is boring. I learned more from these pages than any of the history classes I took in University. ...more
Peter Hakkenberg
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Adam.. thank you for your stories of Toronto. Well told and well written!!
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, history
Not exactly what I thought it was, but I really enjoyed it. It gives any reader who is interested about Toronto history a really good insight about how the city was born and became what it is today.
Briar Graovac
This is okay. My rating is really 3.5, but I'd always round up rather than down.

I'm not bothering to go back and check but I believe the introduction said this book is based off a blog and several of the chapters are repurposed entries from the blog. Totally a fine thing to do, and maybe I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been told in the intro but it felt like a blog. For me, simply everything being set in Toronto wasn't really a strong enough through-line between stories. I think it could hav
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada, toronto
An incredibly well-written book. The writing is engaging, at times funny and at times extremely serious, and it is both history and commentary. It is extremely accessible without sacrificing historical accuracy or quality. In short, it's both a masterful study of Toronto's history while still fun to read.

Also, the author's choices of who to follow are brilliant. The colonial history of York could've been told through the eyes of Simcoe, as it has a million times before, or even through Peter Rus
Sara G
Was a bit disappointed in this, from the title and cover, I was expecting a bit more towards ghost stories or a grisly past. But this was a loose history of Toronto - and some of the stories seemed to have only a vague connection to Toronto. I found the earlier stories the most interesting, around the indigenous peoples and then the settling of Toronto. And I was surprised to learn the lawyer story is not just an urban legend! Definitely some gems in here, but maybe better to pick and read secti ...more
David Downer
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up out of curiosity and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Each chapter is a story that takes you through the history of Toronto. I learned so much about Toronto that is often missing or buried in other histories. I found that I was compiling a list of places in Toronto that I want to go see for myself. The additional reading section provides numerous print and online sources to pursue the stories further.
Benjamin Kahn
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An excellent collection of tales of Toronto's past. We learned national history in school, but never local or provincial. There were a lot of things in this book that were new to me, or I had vague knowledge of - the Yorkville scene, for instance - but nothing in depth. Bunch does a tremendous job of pulling it all together and putting it into context. I recommend this to any Torontonian, or anyone interested in the city. Fascinating reading. So glad that I read this. ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it liked it
A well-written, rather interesting book, but I feel like I would've liked it even more if I'd know Toronto more. A week spent as a tourist there was not quite enough to understand all the explanations to do with parts of the city etc.

I learned quite a bit about Canadian history from this book though. A lot that I am surprised I didn't know already before, too, but I was never the biggest history buff...
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book about the city in which I live. Telling the stories of those who lived in this location before them. Many of the stories were previously unknown to me - or only known in small pieces. I also loved the spirit of this collection. definitely a great gift for someone moving into the city and a must read for those of us who call this city home
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own-copy
This is a very enjoyable historical reading to do if you are from Toronto. So many references to locations one will rarely just go stumble on the history of them. I went from a TPL borrowed ebook to actually purchasing a hard copy so I can lend to family and friends to read.
Rachelle Bugeaud
This book was absolutely fascinating! Every chapter is well written and delivers a unique sliver of Toronto history. Was a delight to read and I can’t wait to share some of the stories from this book with friends and visiting family. Has made me look at Toronto in a brand new light. 👏🏻
Elliann Fairbairn
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Adam Bunch's 'The Toronto Book of The Dead' for a city that feels as if it actively avoids history, hearing its story told through the ghosts of it's inhabitants past brings to life a history much more colourful than those condos would have you believe. ...more
Karen Bahal
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you're interested in learning about Toronto then this is novel to read. From beginning to end it promises the readers a well written magical, mystical vivid image of the citizens of Toronto's
past. It promises to keep it's readers spellbound.
Sophie Cimon
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting to learn about the beginning of the city. But I was expecting more modern morbid tales, or haunting stories, ghost encounters. Still, I like the stories about Indigenous or the war times.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars)
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