I Am a Pedestrian: Introduction
Walking around a city
I Am a Pedestrian is the result of a 159-kilometre walk around Toronto. The book consists of 159 observations gleaned from a 42-hour adventure at the perimeter. I Am a Pedestrian is a record of underexplored places, stories of people encountered and lost histories rediscovered at Toronto’s current city limits.
Before the onset of the novel coronavirus, I promoted I Am a Pedestrian in public libraries and other venues with a talk titled, The Time Travelling Pedestrian. With the aid of historical photographs, maps, and group discussion, the presentation revealed how Toronto has grown from a lonely French outpost in 1750 to today's bustling metropolis.
I like Edward Brown. And I like his book, I Am a Pedestrian. I like it not just because I am a pedestrian too, but because I Am a Pedestrian says so much about the city I thought I knew but really didn’t. Because of Brown, Toronto, a city of secrets, has been revealed in a way it wasn’t before he began his mad trek around its 159-kilometre border.
For the most part, Brown’s Toronto is there in plain sight for all to see, but every page of his book and every section of his walk is a new adventure. The route is ordinary, even banal, but each part is layered with the kind of remarkable detail that can turn an everyday jaunt into a series of unexpected and extraordinary encounters. Sometimes funny, sometimes strange, always engaging, Brown’s journey takes us through the history of a city happy to put the past behind it and get on with the business of now.
Brown’s desire to walk the city—in other words, to see it for himself—sets him apart from most observers, who are more comfortable contemplating the idea of Toronto. He has seen first-hand the places that form the city. He is Toronto’s self-appointed witness. As often as not, these shadowy edge spaces are ignored, littered, overgrown and polluted. Brown finds in them sadness and loss, as well as heroism and humour. His isn’t just the story of Toronto. Whether we know it or not, his story is our story, too. These poignant tales, told in his deadpan voice, explain not just where we are but how we got here.
I Am a Pedestrian is available through this website.
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