The Signs That Define Toronto
The latest book from Spacing offers a glimpse into the city’s cultural evolution
A common way to discover the spirit of a city is by exploring its streetscapes. So, what happens to that spirit when the city’s visual markers begin to change? In Spacing’s eleventh book, [The Signs That Define Toronto] the magazine’s publisher, creative director and co-founder Matthew Blackett teams up with local architects Kurt Kraler and Philip Evans to document the history, culture, and development of Toronto through its saga of unique signage.
The Signs That Define Toronto explores how emblems adorning our city contribute to its visual identity and, subsequently, that of its residents. Over 150 years of iconic signage are documented in pages of archival photographs, colourful illustrations and text that spark a delightful sense of nostalgia. Commercial designs like Eaton’s and the Mr. Christie water tower tell a story of Toronto’s industrialization, whereas the loss of beloved neighbourhood icons like Honest Ed’s glittery marquee in the Annex question what truly defines our districts.
With a glimpse into the past, this book cleverly captures how the appearance and destruction of signage throughout the city has influenced Toronto’s sense of place; how restoration projects honour legacy; and how once-obscure communities are forging presence. Mostly, it encourages the reader to imagine how a future Toronto might look. Paperback, 208 pages, $35, available at Spacing.
Originally published in Designlines 2023 Small Spaces issue.
Visit the Spacing Store at 401 Richmond for other great reads, apparel and goods that pay homage to the city we love.