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Toronto Journal

Toronto Journal

Author: Toronto Journal

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Toronto Journal is a writing journal published in print, online, and in sound.
18 Episodes
Welcome to the second issue of Toronto Journal. If you have already come across our journal, you will find the format of this issue similar to the first.



If you were asked to name the most famous Canadian authors, who would come to mind? Margaret Attwood, surely. Alice Munro, Leonard Cohen. Mordecai Richler, L. M. Montgomery, Robertson Davies, . . . and probably a handful of others if you were given a moment to think about it. And yet, even if you were given a good hour to concentrate – to name every author you could – I suspect that there would be one name invariably missing from that list: Mazo de la Roche.
In Thibeault Falls, the Chinese community is small – less than one hundred including newborns – and the circle of women even smaller. These mainly middle-aged wives get together, usually about once a month, to socialize and gossip about everything and nothing: their children, their husbands, their steadfast routines and their constant adjustments to gum san, the gold mountain. However, their conversation always drifts back to the homeland they emigrated from.
Half an hour. That’s how long Sammy had been seated in the waiting room of Dr. Schiller’s West Side office. Her chair puffed dust as she shifted her weight. The sign on the door reminded No cell phone use. Bored as she was, she didn’t dare touch the periodicals. She could only imagine what a microscope would display: the virulent layer of phlegm, the microbial spray of countless sneezes. Instead, she looked for shapes in the water stains and reread the alarmist signage on the walls. Is this a Heart Attack? Why Mammograms Matter. Quit Smoking Today.
Everyone talked about “boat people” in 1979. Video clips of rickety vessels chugging toward Malaysia and the Philippines dominated the evening news. Cameras focused on rows of unwanted Vietnamese refugees standing elbow to elbow on deck, awaiting admission to overcrowded, unsanitary migrant camps. The footage played most often was a grim shot of an infant’s abandoned denim overalls washing ashore.
Twenty years I’d been friends with Bec, but it was Lois and how she’d changed that finally got me to go to Toronto. I’d meant to go see Bec, but life got busy and I kept forgetting to actually set up a visit. My hands were cold as I stepped through the door from airport customs at Pearson, backpack on my shoulder. The first thing I saw was Bec's bright face. Then she was hugging me, and I knew it didn't matter how long it had been.
Paul watched Lucky curl up in the open suitcase. She was missing most of her tail. Lost it in a kitchen accident. She knocked a pot off the counter and it landed on her, despite her name. Lucky was now curling up on top of a folded blazer and Paul knew it would not go well for her. Perhaps, Jinx would have been a more apropos name. Lucky was one of three cats that Paul and Hannah owned. She was the only female. Her tortoise shell colouring made her stand out from the other two. Paul had heard that only female cats had more than two colours, and at least in his small world, that was true. Dusty, the British Longhair was a monochromatic, smoky, ashy colour and Ned was a two tone tabby, orange on orange. Lucky was the only one Paul had been at the adoption for. The two males had come with Hannah, who was now prepping for a work trip to Calgary. The cats always seemed to know. Paul didn’t know if they recognized the suitcase, or could just feel the tension.
I heard Lyydia’s laughter long before I saw her face. The morning I boarded the Arcturus, I was struck by the bubbling sound that rose fearlessly above the din of the crowd. I also have to say that it annoyed me to no end. After all the preparations, the tumult of emotions, and the strain of the journey already behind me, I had stumbled into the terminal, close to tears – relieved to have found the right place all by myself, and to have made it to the right ship in time.
I'm late to my sister's suicide again. I’ve gotten to the facility at the tail end of visiting hours, which means a shift change for the caregivers, which is why I’ve been standing out here for ten minutes waiting for someone to let me in. I ring the doorbell a third time.
Otis Jones was prophetic, kinetic, eclectic – one of the more fashionable madmen of the scene – and the only person in my acquaintance who’d published a book of poetry. He was from Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, a wake-and-bake pothead, a wavy-haired giant, a slapdash oddity, and the kind of dude who might be growing a beard or shaving his head or falling in love in a Yukon bookstore. I met him tree-planting in the sundry foughten fields of British Columbia and he told me to look him up if I was ever in Toronto. So there I was on Bloor Street West, at the outset of my adult life, watching Otis Jones in rubber boots approach along the sidewalk. He wore a plaid shirt, army pants, and drank from a bottle of wine in a brown paper bag. 
Wakefield Whiteoak ran on and on, faster and faster, till he could run no farther. He did not know why he had suddenly increased his speed. He did not even know why he ran. When, out of breath, he threw himself face down on the new spring sod of the meadow, he completely forgot that he had been running at all, and lay, his cheek pressed against the tender grass, his heart thudding against his ribs, without a thought in his head. He was no more happy or unhappy than the April wind that raced across his body or the young grass that quivered with life beneath it. He was simply alive, young, and pressed by the need of violent exertion.
With an introduction by Bridget Fairfax.  My name is William Francis Furlong. My occupation is that of a commission merchant, and my place of business is on St. Paul Street, in the City of Montreal.
She’d developed a stubborn habit of forgetting at least one of those three vital accessories which a person ought never leave the house without – her phone, her purse, her keys. She had always been absent-minded, but this went beyond absent-mindedness: it was too regular to be absentmindedness.
The basement in our little house served the functions of an attic and a storage space for beer cartons. “I’ll be so glad to have this cleaned up,” my mother said, digging her nail underneath the pull tab of a Coors Light.
The celestial bar was busy when Gabriel arrived. Puriel and Dokiel were slumped at the corner table, weary heads resting on their palms, sipping their drinks and not saying much.
It was on a Sunday that we first noticed the smell. We lived in an apartment on the third floor of a low-rise in Parkdale, right off Queen.
When he visited Toronto to shoot an episode of The Layover, the late Anthony Bourdain, with characteristic bluntness, kicked things off by bemoaning the state of the downtown core. “It’s not a good-looking city,” he said.
Welcome to the first issue of Toronto Journal. This note will briefly answer two fundamental questions you may have: 1) why does this journal exist, and 2) how is it different from other journals?
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