Toronto, Ontario

WOTS Festival Marketplace

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Harbourfront Centre | 10am - 5pm


WOTS+ Festival Events

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Details to be announced |

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About Us

The Word On The Street is a national celebration of literacy and Canadian writing. Each September, we host hundreds of author readings for visitors of all ages and a vibrant marketplace featuring the best selection of books and magazines in Canada. Join us (for free!) as we share vital stories about where we live. - The Word on the Street célèbre la lecture et la littérature canadienne et se fait le défenseur de l’alphabétisation par un festival annuel gratuit, en plein air. Chaque année, nous invitons tout le monde à participer à des centaines d’événements avec des auteurs et à visiter un marché qui offre la meilleure sélection de livres et de magazines canadiens.

Board of Directors


Barbara Howson, Vice-President, Sales and Licensing, House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books (President)

Barbara Howson is a sales, licensing, and business strategist with a strong background in publishing and other media sectors. She’s worked with small to mid-size companies in Canada and the United Kingdom and has also worked as a consultant to industry organizations and government agencies. At present she is enjoying her sixth year with House of Anansi and Groundwood Books as Vice- President, Sales and Licensing.


Sarah Dunn, Senior Publicist, ECW Press (Vice-President)

Sarah Dunn has been with ECW Press since 2006. As Senior Publicist, she is responsible for creating and implementing publicity campaigns for approximately 20 titles per year. She previously worked in the publicity departments of McClelland & Stewart and Thomas Allen & Son.


Ven Seshadri, Vice President, Project Development, CarbonFree Technology Inc. (Treasurer)

Ven Seshadri is Vice President of Project Development at CarbonFree Technology Inc., a Toronto-based solar energy developer and financier. Prior to joining CarbonFree, Ven was President and CEO of The SPi Group Inc. Before joining SPi, Ven worked for the IBM Software Group where he worked to bring innovative technologies from the IBM Research Division to market. Ven holds both a BASc degree in Engineering Science and an MASc degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto.


Helena Aalto, The Word On The Street Canada National Co-ordinator

During her career, Helena Aalto has worked at ABC Life Literacy, Editors’ Association of Canada, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Kids Can Press, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Chapters and Coles. Her consulting clients include Association of Canadian Publishers, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Access Copyright, Work in Culture, and Storytellers of Canada. Past board and committee service includes IBBY Canada, Canadian Coalition for School Libraries, Book and Periodical Council, and Canadian Booksellers Association.


Elyse Friedman, Author and screenwriter

Elyse Friedman is a Toronto-based author and screenwriter. Her most recent novel, The Answer To Everything, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. Elyse’s books include Long Story Short, a Novella & Stories (Anansi); Waking Beauty (Crown US); Then Again (Random House Canada); and the poetry collection Know Your Monkey (ECW).  Her work has been short-listed for the Trillium Book Award, The Toronto Book Award, the Relit Award and the National Magazine Award. Elyse’s short fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology, and her story, The Soother, won the Gold National Magazine Award for fiction.


Alan G. James, Partner, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP

Alan James is a partner in Gowling’s Toronto office and head of the firm’s National Technology Industry Group. Alan practices in corporate and commercial law with an emphasis on venture capital investments in technology companies and strategic transactions relating to the development, acquisition, licensing, and use of technology. Alan has advised investment funds and corporations in connection with numerous cross-border investment transactions and acquisitions.


Holly Kent, Executive Director, Ontario Book Publishing Organization and the Open Book Foundation

Holly Kent has worked in book publishing for seven years and has been a member of The Word On The Street Toronto’s Board of Directors since 2012. Having previously worked with the National Reading Campaign, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and Scholastic Canada, she is currently the Executive Director of the Ontario Book Publishing Organization and the Open Book Foundation, which runs the popular websites Open Book Toronto and Open Book Ontario.


Eleanor LeFave, Owner, Mabel’s Fables (ex-officio)

Eleanor LeFave is from a family of school teachers and grew up surrounded by books. She studied art history and design at York University. She and her sister, a teacher-librarian, opened children’s bookstore Mabel’s Fables, in Toronto in 1988. Eleanor served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Booksellers Association from 2003 to 2007 and was V.P. and President for 2006 and 2007.


David Leonard, Director of Events, The Walrus Foundation

David Leonard is the Director of Events for the Walrus Foundation, and the founding producer of the Walrus Talks, which has become one of the most-respected ideas-based events in Canada, and has brought hundreds of Canada’s brightest minds to Walrus stages from coast to coast to coast. Prior to that, he did communications and campaign work for a number of national environmental charities, and before that spent almost a decade as a publicist for some of the most well-known authors and publishers in Canada and around the world. He lives in Toronto. 


Jennifer Murray, President, Porch Light Consulting

Jennifer Murray is a senior professional with over 20 years of experience in strategic marketing and communications in the cultural industries. In 2006 she founded Porch Light Consulting, a consulting company that provides marketing services to the cultural sector. Clients include the Canada Council, WorkInCulture, National Reading Campaign, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Jennifer teaches Marketing at Humber College’s Book Publishing Program. Previously she was Director of Marketing at Penguin Books Canada and Vice President of Marketing at Kids Can Press.


Don Oravec, former Executive Director, Writers’ Trust of Canada

A graduate of the University of Guelph, Don began his career in the arts community in the marketing department of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  In 1989 Don bought a home and pursued business opportunities on Montserrat.  After Hurricane Hugo, Don returned to Toronto where he purchased and operated The Fare Exchange Cafe before returning to the Toronto Symphony where he managed the customer service centre and telemarketing operations.  Don was the first full-time Director of Development for Tafelmusik. He has worked for the Writers’ Trust of Canada for nine years, the last seven years as Executive Director. Don currently serves on the board of Project Bookmark Canada and Coral Ridge Towers South in Fort Lauderdale. Don and his husband Jim Harper divide their time between Toronto and Fort Lauderdale.


Anna Porter, Author, co-founder of Key Porter Books

Anna Porter’s recent books are Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy and The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future, winner of the Shaughnessey Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Kasztner’s Train, the True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, was the winner of the 2007 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Award and of the Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction. She has also written three novels, a memoir called The Storyteller, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles.

She is co-founder of Key Porter Books, a company with a wide-ranging author list that included Farley Mowat, Allan Fotheringham, Howard Engel, Joan Barfoot, Fred Bruemmer, Norman Jewison, George Jonas, Margaret Atwood, The Right Honourable Jean Chretien, Sylvia Fraser, Modris Eksteins, John Keegan, Martin Gilbert, Irving Abella, Josef Skvorecky, Italo Calvino, William Trevor, Conrad Black, and Janet Lunn. She sold majority interest in the company in 2004.

She is an Officer of The Order of Canada and has been awarded the Order of Ontario.


Meredith Tutching, Director, Forest of Reading, Ontario Library Association

Meredith Tutching has been with the Ontario Library Association since 2001 and joined The Word on the Street board in 2014.  As the Program Coordinator at OLA, her main responsibility is the Forest of Reading Award Programs and the Festival of Trees.  These programs see 250,000 young people participate every year and is the largest children’s choice program in the country of its kind.  Each year they culminate in Festivals around Ontario for tens of thousands of young people.