The Word On The Street is a non-profit organization that celebrates Canadian reading, writing, and champions literacy primarily through a free, annual outdoor festival. Each September, in communities from coast-to-coast, we invite everyone to participate in hundreds of author events, presentations and workshops, and to browse a marketplace that boasts the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you’ll find anywhere. And it’s free!
Created as a vehicle to promote Canadian authors, books, magazines, and literacy, the concept for the Toronto Book and Magazine Fair grew out of the Promotions Committee of the Book and Periodical Council. Looking for new promotional opportunities, the Committee determined that the time had come for Toronto, Canada’s publishing capital, to join the world’s major publishing centres and host its own large-scale public festival of the written word.
In November 1989, the concept became a reality. Once a Board of Directors was appointed, staff hired, and an office established, the inaugural festival took place in September 1990 to coincide with International Literacy Year.
The Toronto Book and Magazine Fair, otherwise known as The Word On The Street, has grown from a small festival of 40,000 booklovers to become Canada’s largest, annual book and magazine festival. Despite attracting more than 200,000 visitors annually, the festival has remained true to its original mandate: to foster the awareness and appreciation of the written word in our culture, promote local artists, bring the people of Toronto together in a celebration of reading, and champion literacy as an essential element of a healthy community. As part of its commitment to support emerging artists, one quarter of the festival’s exhibit space is available at cost to small presses, independent authors, and writing associations; literacy organizations are accommodated at no charge.
The festival’s place in the national literary community has attracted some of Canada’s most celebrated authors over the years, including: M.G. Vassanji, Richard B. Wright, Elizabeth Hay, Timothy Findley, Margaret Atwood, Alistair MacLeod, Vincent Lam, Robert Munsch, Nino Ricci, John Ralston Saul, Kenneth Oppel, Pierre Berton, David Suzuki, and Dennis Lee. The Word On The Street team is also proud of its track record of helping launch emerging authors such as Tish Cohen, Joseph Boyden, Leah McLaren, and Stephen Marche.