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From the archives

Paper Rout

Postmedia in the gutter

Past Trauma

Richard Wagamese and an Indigenous literary resurgence

Family Pride

Profiles in gay life

James Roots

James Roots, although currently living in Kanata, Ontario, is a born and bred Torontonian. He learned photography from his father, one of Toronto’s most popular wedding and portrait photographers for half a century.

Articles by
James Roots

Negative Exposure

How a photographer helped demolish a neighbourhood. June 2016
Toronto, contrary to popular denigration, has never lacked for civic vision. A 2016 exhibit at its archives, “No Little Plans: Alternative Building and Transportation Visions for Toronto,” proved this point with its display of ambitious plans, proposals and development over the years. Most of these visions came to naught because the money simply was not there to implement…

Breaking the Cast

Does living with a disability define a person? June 2015
The autobiographies of people with disabilities fall into two camps. One the one hand, those who acquire their disability in adolescence or later have been enculturated into the non-disabled society, to which they want nothing so much as a full return. They tend to present their disability as something like an ugly Christmas sweater, imposed upon them by external…

Cottage Romance

Ontario's fierce, odd passion for lakeside getaways July–August 2014
No one who grew up living the Ontario cottage experience is going to be able to read Julia Harrison’s A Timeless Place: The Ontario Cottage without emotional reminiscences, so let me set out mine at the start. In the 1920s, my grandfather bought up tracts of land on the Alcona Beach and Big Bay Point shores of Lake…

Faking Your Way Through Life

A memoir captures the tension between the deaf and the hearing worlds October 2013
Communication is a prerequisite to belonging. Belonging to a family, a school, a culture—it does not matter the venue or context: what matters is that the first step toward belonging is communication. Two-way communication. Easy two-way communication. Easy for both communicators. I stress “two-way,” “easy” and “both” because communication—like all human interactions—involves a balance of…

The Man Who Invented Comedy

A Herculean new take on the Quebec-born mastermind behind the Keystone Kops March 2012
The Hollywood comedy is a Canadian invention. More than a century ago, Quebec-born Mack Sennett became the first film maker on this continent to specialize in creating full-length comedies. In 1908, “full length” meant one reel, about 10 to 12 minutes; no one believed an audience could tolerate anything longer. The great D.W. Griffith, under whom Sennett was then apprenticing at the famed Biograph…

Walking Across Canada

In the wake of the Great War, five plucky Maritimers made it from sea to sea November 2011
On January 17, 1921, a couple of young amateur athletes named Charles Burkman and Sidney Carr set out from Halifax to walk to Vancouver. A week later, the father-and-son team of Jack and Clifford Behan set off in pursuit. And another week later, a newly married couple, Frank and Jenny Dill, decided that joining the hike would make an excellent…

Northern Treasure

The gold may be gone from the Klondike but the stories still glitter January–February 2011
We can never have enough books about the Klondike gold rush. We need to be reminded constantly that it awakened us to the northern half of our country, crystallized the differences between Canadians and Americans, created the romance of sturdy Mounties amidst snowy wastelands and set the template for mostly foreign exploitation of our natural…

Lest We Forget

The definitive history of Canadians fighting in World War One. November 2009

Green-Tinged Hypocrisy

Many books urge eco-responsibility, but are we too cheap and lazy to really care? May 2009