When I mentioned to a friend recently that I was going back to Canada to exhibit at a bookfair she challenged me to capture pictures of a Moose and a Beaver. When I pointed out to her that there is so much more to this wonderful country than those two stereotypical animals she started singing Celine Dion songs at me (Some of my friends are more enlightened than others). I eventually agreed to her challenge, just to get the singing to stop. I had no plans to even attempt to get images of either animal but , warming to her theme and finding herself hilarious, she was about to start working her way through the Bachman-Turner Overdrive back catalogue and I had to make her stop somehow.
I flew into Toronto with Air Canada. I assumed that the people working on the national airline would have some of the qualities of the many friendly, funny, kind and warm-hearted Canadian people I had met.
I was wrong.
I would have put it down to just plain bad luck in getting a flight crew who had got out of bed on the wrong side if the mob in charge of the return journey hadn't been even more miserable and rude.
Being made to feel like a naughty school boy for eight and a half hours is not something I enjoy (although there are rumours that one particular bookdealer does and pays a lot of money to make it happen). Even when I was a naughty school boy I got to go home after less than seven hours.
So, there I was. Back in Canada.
After being interrogated by both Immigration and Customs officers at the airport they finally let me in and I made my way to my hotel, right on the lake front and beneath the wonderful CN tower. I chose to admire it from below. Being petrified of heights I stayed on the ground to save visitors the pathetic sight of me crying and screaming for my Mummy when I got to the top.
Toronto seems to be booming and all around the Harbour front there is major building work going on and mighty sky scrapers compete to creat a new skyline.
Thursday was spent visiting local dealers and buying several nice books. Well done me.
Friday saw the serious business of set-up and the opening evening of the bookfair at the mighty Metro Convention Centre on Toronto's busy Front Street.
It was while walking into the lobby of the centre that I noticed the first of several oversize animal statues dotted around the city. There it was. My Moose. The challenge wasn't to photograph a live Moose, just a Moose.
After taking a snap of the impressive multi national Moose I turned around to see a five foot high Woodpecker on a post just outside of the lobby. These People appear to like their animal statues.
A Woodpecker made of wood.
This was confirmed by the six feet tall dog and cat positioned outside the pet entertainment centre (I am not making this up. This vast building is full of items and events to keep your pets amused and entertained and even inlcudes a 'Dine with your dog' area) which was next to my Hotel.
So, what of the bookfair?
This event was revived last year after a fifteen year hiatus and all three days were busy with a good mixture of Collectors, Librarians, Dealers and the just plain Curious. Any doubts that, having sated their curiosity, people wouldn't bother returning were quickly proven wrong with a steady flow of visitors on the opening evening. This continued right up until closing time on sunday and many happy customer were seen walking out with bags full of books.
A good mix of well, and not so well, established dealers from Canada, Usa and Europe, with a wide range of material meant that there was something for everyone and sales appear to have been good throughout the whole fair.
I sold well on all three days and came away happy with my weekend.
On the Saturday and Sunday of the bookfair the Convention centre was hosting a major dance competition in adjacent rooms and the sounds of Hip Hop, Drum and Bass and general pop music drowned out the muzac that was playing in our room. Some felt it was an improvement on the 'elevator music' that was piped into the bookfair, some could be seen putting their fingers in their ears.
One conlusion that I have drawn from this is that, on the whole, booksellers have a lot of rhythm and several could be seen busting some moves that surely would have put them in contention for the prizes on offer next door. I'll mention no names.
As I have written here before, Toronto is a great city with a full range of nightlife. The evenings were well spent with friends, trying out various bars and restaurants and getting caught up in the World Series of Baseball excitement that had the whole city buzzing. Saturday night also saw the Halloween revellers out in force in a range of costumes, most far too small for the cold weather of this time of year.
I look forward to exhibiting at next years event but will get there with a different airline and plan to spend some time searching out an oversize Beaver statue. I cannot believe there isn't at least one in the city somewhere.