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This report is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

When the World Comes to Toronto: Greg Gatenby's International Festival of Authors Roger Burford Mason
The biggest literary organization in the world - one that promotes year-round readings, and three major festivals, with a combined audience in excess of 10,000 every year - operates out of a small brown brick building overlooking a car park on the waterfront in downtown Toronto. The organization is called the Harbourfront Reading Series, and its ambitious, successful and extensive literary program is synonymous with the name of Harbourfront's artistic director, Greg Gatenby.

Gatenby was born in Toronto in 1950. He read English at York University, in the Toronto suburb of North York, and worked as an editor at McClelland and Stewart, Canada's major publisher, from 1973 to 1975, before being appointed artistic director of the Harbourfront Reading Series, a year-round program of readings which brings major and emerging authors to Toronto week in, week out, and acts as the bedrock for three major literary festivals. It all takes place within sight and sound of one of the most attractive waterfronts in North America.

Harbourfront is to Toronto what Covent Garden is to London, a manicured mix of commerce and culture. In the late 1960s, attempting to buy metropolitan votes in Canada's largest city, the federal government in Ottawa decided to turn Toronto's ugly, sprawling docklands into a park. In short order it created a Xanadu of condominiums, high-tone shops, restaurants, marinas, theatres, an avant-garde art gallery, and pleasant parkland, with the QUANGO, Harbourfront Corporation, to finance and oversee all activities there.

An informal program ...


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