Toronto, Ontario

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Harbourfront Centre | 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

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For the past 26 years, The Word On The Street has been renowned for the quality and diversity of its event programming. See the lineup of incredible Canadian literary talent at the 27th festival on September 25, 2016.

Past, Present, Future: Writing About Communities, Activism, and City building

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

What does history change? Heritage Toronto’s Book Award celebrates exceptional non-fiction works that explore this question. Many of this year’s nominees focus on the power of communities to shape their civic destinies. Discover how writing about the past can affect our understanding of the present through this panel discussion, moderated by Bianca Spence, with authors and editors of four Heritage Toronto Award-nominated books: Barbara Dickson (Bomb Girls), Joan Roberts (Cracked), John Sewell, (How We Changed Toronto), and Tatum Taylor (The Ward). Then, join us on October 17th at the Heritage Toronto Awards and Kilbourn Lecture, where we will celebrate these and other outstanding contributions to our city’s heritage. Visit for more information.

Bomb Girls

An account of the women working in high-security, dangerous conditions making bombs in Toronto during the Second World War.

What was it like to work in a Canadian Second World War munitions factory? What were working conditions like? Did anyone die? Just how closely did female employees embody the image of “Rosie the Riveter” so popularly advertised to promote factory work in war propaganda posters? How closely does the recent TV show, Bomb Girls, resemble the actual historical record of the day-to-day lives of bomb-making employees? Bomb Girls delivers a dramatic, personal, and detailed review of Canada’s largest fuse-filling munitions factory, situated in Scarborough, Ontario. First-hand accounts, technical records, photographic evidence, business documentation, and site maps all come together to offer a rare, complete account into the lives of over twenty-one thousand brave men and women who risked their lives daily while handling high explosives in a dedicated effort to help win the war.

  • Nonfiction

Barbara Dickson

Barbara Dickson is a sought-after motivational public speaker, local historian, and writer of fiction and periodical pieces. She lives in Scarborough.


The story of the Bell Canada union drive and the phone operator strike that brought sweeping reform to women’s workplace rights.

In the 1970s, Bell Canada was Canada’s largest corporation. It employed thousands of people, including a large number of women who worked as operators and endured very poor pay and working conditions. Joan Roberts, a former operator, tells the story of how she and a group of dedicated labour organizers helped to initiate a campaign to unionize Bell Canada’s operators. From the point of view of the workers and the organizers, Roberts tells an important story in Canada’s labour history. The unionization of Bell Canada’s operators was a huge victory for Canada’s working women. The victory at Bell established new standards for women in other so-called “pink-collar” jobs.

  • Nonfiction

Joan Roberts

Joan Roberts served as a union organizer for the phone operators at Bell Canada. She later worked as a development consultant for the Labour Council Development Foundation. Currently, she runs a training and consulting practice. She lives in Toronto.

How We Changed Toronto

Development pressures in the mid-1960s threatened heritage buildings and neighbourhoods in the rapidly growing city of Toronto. Former Mayor John Sewell tells the inside story of the activists who sought change and worked to develop a new approach to city government.

  • Nonfiction

John Sewell

A lifelong Torontonian, John Sewell grew up in the Beach neighbourhood and graduated from the University of Toronto Law School. After his career in city politics, he chaired an Ontario Royal Commission on land use policies, taught at Osgoode Hall Law School, worked as a columnist for The Globe and Mail and NOW Magazine, and wrote books on city planning and police. He is a member of the Order of Canada.

Tatum Taylor

Tatum Taylor is a writer and heritage specialist at ERA Architects. She holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, where she worked on the editorial team for the Future Anterior Journal. She is actively involved with ICOMOS Canada and the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s Executive Committee.