The Toronto Book of Love

Reviewed by Nelle Oosterom

Posted March 17, 2022

The stories in The Toronto Book of Love make for good bedtime reading — unless you are looking for tales of steamy romance and happily ever after. The Toronto-based unions described here are eclectic and entertaining but not necessarily enduring.

Adam Bunch reaches into the mists of time to describe the Wendat’s free and easy courtship rituals. And oh, what a contrast they were to the buttoned-up prudishness practised by the colonizers.

Did Elizabeth Simcoe, the highspirited wife of John Graves Simcoe, first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, have an affair with her husband’s handsome young private secretary? Their diaries suggest that, but we’ll never know for sure. We do know that when the Simcoes returned to England her possible paramour — Thomas Talbot — stayed behind, apparently heartbroken, and remained single for the rest of his life.

While the accounts in this book revolve around historical figures who have a link to Toronto, some of the connections are thin. Well-known personalities like Joni Mitchell and Margaret Trudeau are here, even though Toronto was never their home — they were only passing through. Bunch nonetheless delivers many cool stories that are well-told.

Buy this book at Chapters-Indigo

This article originally appeared in the April-May 2022 issue of Canada’s History.

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