Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Mike Filey

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On Writing, with Mike Filey

Mike Filey is a Toronto native who has spent decades sharing Toronto's history with its citizens. He talks with Open Book about what defines the city for him, and the experiences he feels every Torontonian should have. Open Book and Dundurn Press are giving away four copies of Trillium and Toronto Island. To enter your name in the draw, send an email to clelia@openbooktoronto.com with your answer to the following question: What was Mike Filey's first publication? The contest closes on July 31th.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your book, Trillium and Toronto Island.

Mike Filey:

The Centennial edition of Trillium and Toronto Island is a reprint of a book first published in 1976, when the Trillium ferry was originally restored for service. Following its return, technology changed; the first edition didn't have colour pictures, and there was information that needed to be brought up-to-date for the 100th anniversary.


OBT:

You've written nearly two dozen books on Toronto's past. How long has our local history been a point of interest for you?

MF:

I wrote my first book in 1970; in 1967, the country's Centennial, there were suggestions that people do something for the 100th anniversary. I decided to collect photographs, which later turned into the Toronto Album (U of T Press). Dundurn press then released Toronto Album 2. My interests took off from there — all my books are Toronto-related. I do what I know and what I like to do.


OBT:

What is your favourite thing about Toronto as a city?

MF:

The streetcars are the most iconic thing in my mind. Streetcars have been around almost as long as the city itself.


OBT:

If you could recommend readers experience one thing in Toronto, what would it be?

MF:

Ride the Queen 501 streetcar line from the beach to Longbranch. There are so many different facets of Toronto, from people to architecture, and this is a much better way to see it. The streetcar is above ground, unlike the subway, and don't wander the way buses do. Streetcars are defined by the tracks — riding on a track, you don't have to worry. This particular line has been touted by National Geographic as one of the 10 greatest trolley rides in the world.


OBT:

What is your research process like?

MF:

I have a radio show, and a column in The Toronto Sun — so I reach out to the readers. They were there, they did it; they're firsthand sources. I also have access to old newspapers. I can read events as they are happening, instead of third person accounts afterwards. The fire in Toronto — I can read it the day after it occurred, rather than books written years later. Actually reading what people wrote on the day of the event.


OBT:

What was your first publication?

MF:

Toronto Album with U of T press in 1970.


OBT:

What's your next project?

MF:

My Sun column is limited to the Sun readers; we're trying to tap those who aren't. Every two years, we take 75 of my Sun columns and rework them into the Toronto Sketches: The Way We Were series. Number 10 comes out in November.


Mike Filey was born in Toronto in 1941. He has written more than two dozen books on various facets of Toronto's past and for more than 35 years has contributed a popular column, "The Way We Were," to the Toronto Sunday Sun. His Toronto Sketches series is more popular now than ever before.

For more information about Trillium and Toronto Island please visit the Dundurn press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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