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Carbon Copy

In equal balance justly weighed

Slouching toward Democracy

Where have all the wise men gone?

By Populist Demand

When urban and rural voters went separate ways

John Lownsbrough

John Lownsbrough is a journalist in Toronto and the author of The Best Place to Be: Expo 67 and Its Time.

Articles by
John Lownsbrough

Notes to Self

The art of personal narration April 2022
Memoir, Helena de Bres writes in Artful Truths, is “centrally valuable” as a window into the lives of others. “It’s memoir we go to, not journalism, or even biography, when we want to understand at a deep level what it was like, how it felt, to go through the sorts of experiences that make up the heart of human life.” The literary tradition of personal narration stretches back to the likes of Saint…

The Diarist

Making tracks in a new land March 2021
In an entry dated “Spring 1880,” Dukesang Wong recorded in his diary, “I have decided to venture to that country they call ‘the Land of the Golden Mountains.’ The next ship that departs for those shores is the one which I shall be on. Because I cannot build upon my own land in this country, it is right that I should attempt to seek land over the ocean.” In a subsequent…

Artistic Marriage Licence

Portrait of an iconic couple January | February 2020
This is the biography of a ­marriage. It is a slender book, roughly 230 pages, not counting notes and index. Yet with a judicious instinct for the salient fact and a perspective born of sympathy and understanding, Carol Bishop-Gwyn creates something more expansive and profound than appearances might indicate. The marriage was that of Christopher and Mary…

Still Missing

The whereabouts of Ambrose Small October 2019
On the one hundredth anniversary of his disappearance, Ambrose Small turns up again in yet another recounting of that event. Or, rather, he doesn’t turn up. That’s the point. One of Canada’s most stubbornly unsolved mysteries — a case that has spawned a veritable cottage industry of speculative takes on what really happened back on December…

My Parrot and I

A prize-winning memoirist continues the tale of an animal-filled life. December 2015
“This is the story that wrote me,” observes Brian Brett of his engaging ramble of a book, Tuco: The Parrot, the Others and a Scattershot World. It is a story that combines personal observation and reminiscence with scientific argument and speculation, all in the service of exploring how humankind, in assuming (and, by…

Rainbow’s End

Charting the changes in queer urban life November 2014
By most accounts this year’s gay pride parade in Toronto was a big success as well as a landmark event. It incorporated a host of participants from all over the globe who came to Toronto to attend the WorldPride Human Rights Conference. With something like 12,000 marchers, the parade was much larger than in previous years and went on…

Digging for It

Two new takes on World War Two's most famous breakout March 2014
The Hollywood movie The Great Escape, released in 1963, almost 20 years after the World War Two exploit it purported to depict, is today remembered mostly for a bit of business that had little to do with the historical record and everything to do with an actor’s passion for motorcycles: what we remember is the apotheosis of Steve McQueen as…

Renaissance Man

A new book traces the longevity and the fragility of Da Vinci’s greatest work January–February 2013
Executed sporadically over several years in the mid 1490s, Leonardo da Vinci’s mural of The Last Supper is commonly regarded as a triumph, the crowning glory of a master. According to Leonardo’s latest biographer, The Last Supper is arguably the most famous work of art in history, the next most famous being Leonardo’s painting of the Mona

Courting Celebrity

Becoming famous for showcasing the famous is a tricky business. January–February 2008