A selection of recent articles written by Stephen Weir and published in newspapers, magazine and websites. The articles are posted in chronological order
Ottawa author Charlotte Gray wins the 2014 Toronto Book Award
It has been a good year for the Massey Murder (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/stephen-weir/charlotte-grays-true-toro_b_6004036.html#es_share_ended)
Ottawa author Charlotte Grayis the winner of the 2014 Toronto Book Award for her non-fiction book,The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country. She is 40th author to capture Toronto's annual literature prize. Gray $10,000 win was announced at last night's award ceremony, held at the downtown Toronto Reference Library. "I offer my warm congratulations to Charlotte Gray, who has drawn an unforgettable portrait ofToronto'ssocial life at the beginning of the 20thcentury," said Acting City LibrarianAnne Bailey. "In telling the true story ofCarrie Davies, the maid who shot a (famed) Massey,Charlotte Graycaptures the class conflict and societal upheaval that marked our city's reinvention of itself at the onset of the Great War. As the author notes: 'A single bullet fired on Walmer Road had an extraordinary significance.'" " In 1915 Toronto thought of itself as 'Toronto the Good' but by our standards it was very far from the good," explained Charlotte Gray. "It was a city that had grown enormously in the last decade (since the year 1900 ). It had doubled in population, but it was a very class ridden society with the elite at top that totally believed it was absolutely right, and with a surge in working class immigration at the bottom, mainly from Britain. These were people who were determined to make a new life in the new world, and were escaping from the British class system."
1915 newspaper report of the Massey Murder
"Bert Massey (the murdered man) was known as a man-about-town," she continued. "He was somebody who had a diamond stick pin in his tie, he liked driving fast cars, and he was very representative of the young men of that period who got away with what they could get away with. By our standards his behaviour was unacceptable because he sexually harassed and tried to seduce this 18-year old servant. In his day it was sort of seen as something that young men men did. What was surprising is not that he had played around with an eighteen year old but that the Masseys had employed a young woman who had access to a gun and knew how to fire it." The Toronto Award caps off a spectacular year for Gray's 9th book. It won the Canadian Authors Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History; was long-listed for the B.C. Non-fiction Award, and shortlisted for both the Charles Taylor Award and the Evergreen Award. Based on the success of the Massey Murder in 2014 she was also short-listed as "Author of the Year" by the Canadian Booksellers Association. She has been a judge for several of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes, including the Giller Prize for Fiction, the Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.
cover of the award winning book
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Book Awards. Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the Toronto Book Awards honour authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto. Each shortlisted author receives $1,000 and the winning author receives $10,000 in prize money. More information about the awards and what the jury members said about the shortlisted books is available at http://www.toronto.ca/book_awards.
This year the Toronto Book Awards Committee looked at 70 entry before deciding on a short-list of five titles. The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country was chosen from a list of finalists that includedAnthony De Safor his novel,Kicking The Sky; Carrianne K. Y. Leungfor her novel,The Wondrous Woo; Nick SaulandAndrea Curtisfor their social science, agriculture and food book,The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement; andShyam Selvaduraifor his novel,The Hungry Ghosts.
btw - earlier this year Elizabeth Gray was interviewed by videographer George Soca. A resulting 6 minute video was used by Huffington Post in its coverage of the RBC Taylor Prize (formerly the Charles Taylor Prize For Literary Non-Fiction. In that video the author talks about impact the Massey Murder had upon Toronto's upper and lower classes in the days of the First World War. http://youtu.be/aNCRKfzdIOs
Canada’s Biggest City Building Canada’s Biggest Aquarium
By Stephen Weir Believe It or Not Toronto is finally going to have an aquarium. Work has already begun on a new building at the base of the world famous CN Tower. Even though it will be two years before the first Sand Tiger Shark and Carpenter Shark (sawfish) move into Shark Lagoon, three levels of government have already laid out the welcome mat for Ripley Entertainment, the owners of the future aquarium which is scheduled to open in 2013. At a late August press conference Canadian entrepreneurs, Jim Pattison Senior and Junior, officially launched the construction project. The Jim Pattison Group, one of the country’s largest private companies, owns Ripley Entertainment (Ripley’s Believe It or Not), and operates aquariums in both Tennessee and South Carolina. The new Toronto aquarium project has strong financial support and redevelopment monies from the Federal Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto…
Media manage to quickly link Eaton shooting with North America's largest Caribbean Canadian festival
Late last week I joked with my associate Craigg Slowly (@ThatTDotGuy) that it would be only a matter of time
before CFRB right wing on-air host Jerry Agar would link the Eaton Centre
shooting with the Caribbean Carnival Toronto (the carnival formally known as
Caribana). Don't know if Agar has taken a run at us yet, but, other media outlets
have indeed made the tenuous link between an inner-city gang shooting at the
Eaton Centre and North America's largest Caribbean cultural event. The Globe and Mail on Saturday did a feature on public safety at Yonge
and Dundas and somehow managed to use the Caribana name. The reporter,
Kelly Grant, listed some of the murders that had occurred near the Dundas /
Yonge intersection. In that list was the 2005 murder of a Brampton man in
Dundas Square - he was shot dead in front of police the day after the 2005 Caribana Parade had ended. It was r…