Archive for the ‘Charles Dickens’ tag
When Charles Dickens visited Canada during his 1842 tour he didn’t stay in Toronto for very long. In fact, he only stayed two days before moving on to Montreal. Since Toronto is my hometown, I wish he had stayed longer so that the observations he made about my city would’ve been a little more exciting. Instead they make Toronto seem sort of dull, which I assure you it is not:
“…the town itself is full of life and motion, bustle, business, and improvement. The streets are well paved, and lighted with gas…” Dickens also made mention of a “good stone prison” and the footways that were “kept in very good and clean repair.” Pretty boring, right?
Luckily, when I watched the DVD series Dickens in America, the bit about Toronto focused on something a bit more interesting than the condition of its streets.
In the Toronto episode, host Miriam Margolyes visits collector Dan Calinescu who has over 5000 Dickens items in his tiny Toronto apartment. That makes his one of the largest private Dickens collection in the world.
She is, of course, very jealous of his collection, and you’ll understand why after you watch the episode. It’s incredibly impressive.
If you’re looking for a Dickens-themed afternoon in Toronto, A Taste of the World offers a tour called In The Footsteps of Charles Dickens, where guide Shirley Lum will take you and your group out to see the Toronto that Dickens would have seen in 1842. Clean footways and all.
The journey to America that Charles Dickens took in 1842 brought him to Canada for about five weeks. And even though he didn’t devote much time to it in his book American Notes, the words he did write about Canada are favourable and sometimes quite moving.
Dickens spent a week and a half in the Niagara area and the Falls made quite an impression on him:
“Then, when I felt how near to my Creator I was standing, the first effect, and the enduring one—instant and lasting—of the tremendous spectacle, was Peace. Peace of Mind, tranquility, calm recollections of the Dead, great thoughts of Eternal Rest and Happiness: nothing of gloom or terror. Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, and Image of Beauty; to remain there, changeless and indelible, until its pulses cease to beat, for ever.”
Charles Dickens visited America and Canada in 1842. His itinerary is one that I would gladly follow even today:
Boston → New England → New York → Philadelphia → Washington → Richmond → Pittsburgh →
Cincinnati → Louisville → Midwest & St. Louis → Niagara → Toronto → Montreal → New York
You can read what he thought about each place in his book, American Notes.
I confess that I haven’t read it but that I’m currently searching for a really nice edition of this travelogue to add to my Dickens collection.
When I heard about the DVD series Dickens in America hosted by British actress Miriam Margolyes (I know she seems like a random choice, but she’s a huge Dickens fan), I decided to commit five hours of my life to watching all 10 episodes.
This should be obvious, but I think the only people who would like this series would be really, really big fans of Charles Dickens. But that being said, while I was a fan going in, I’m definitely an even bigger fan now and am more interested in reading everything he’s ever written.
Here are some of the highlights of the Dickens in America series:
- Watching the stops at the Omni Parker House in Boston, the Berg collection at the NYPL, and Niagara Falls. I’ll be doing a separate post on Dickens’ time in Canada, it’s just that good.
And now for the, um, lowlights:
I’m curious to hear what others think of this series. There are only two reviews on Amazon (one five star, the other only one star). If you’ve seen it, let me know your thoughts by posting a comment!