The Toronto Book of the Dead


Exploring Toronto’s history through the stories of its most fascinating and shadowy deaths.

If these streets could talk…

With morbid tales of war and plague, duels and executions, suicides and séances, Toronto’s past is filled with stories whose endings were anything but peaceful. The Toronto Book of the Dead delves into these: from ancient First Nations burial mounds to the grisly murder of Toronto’s first lighthouse keeper; from the rise and fall of the city’s greatest Victorian baseball star to the final days of the world’s most notorious anarchist.

Toronto has witnessed countless lives lived and lost as it grew from a muddy little frontier town into a booming metropolis of concrete and glass. The Toronto Book of the Dead tells the tale of the ever-changing city through the lives and deaths of those who made it their final resting place.


Heritage Toronto Award, 2018 Historical Writing


Adam Bunch has compiled one of the most fascinating Toronto historical books ever — I never knew how much I wanted to know how local residents have met their demise. Let’s update the city’s motto to ‘Dying Morbidly Our Strength.'

Matthew Blackett, Publisher of Spacing magazine

Sometimes gross, always engrossing, Bunch weaves well-known Toronto histories with those that should — and thanks to Bunch’s efforts — will be better known. With compelling storytelling and evocative geographies, The Toronto Book of the Dead brings Toronto’s history uncannily to life.

Daniel Rotsztain, author of All the Libraries Toronto

Bunch is a skilled storyteller. In The Toronto Book of the Dead he brings the city’s diverse former inhabitants to life and reanimates the places we know with their stories. The result is an engaging and often suspenseful series of vignettes — a love letter to the city he calls home.

Jennifer Bonnell, Assistant Professor, Department of History, York University

A deeply researched book that documents how much of Toronto has been built on the backs of those who are now long gone — alongside accounts of the strange and sometimes gruesome ways these characters died.

Toronto Life

What a great storyteller!

Matt Galloway, Metro Morning

An amazing must-read about Toronto’s history.

Book Time

Like taking a tour of Toronto, with a very knowledgeable tour guide who knows the more somber parts of the city’s past.

Literary Treats

Adam Bunch has hit upon the clever idea of recounting the stories of dead men and women who once lived in Toronto to bring the history of our patch to vivid life.

Toronto Star

Sometimes gruesome, sometimes eerie … Highly fascinating and very informative.

Westend Weekly

With stories that range from gruesome to heartbreaking, The Toronto Book of the Dead is an engaging and fascinating look into some of the darker moments of Toronto's past.

Canada’s History

About the Authors

Adam Bunch

Posted by Dundurn Guest on November 8, 2016
Adam Bunch photo

Adam Bunch

Adam Bunch is the author of The Toronto Book of the Dead, creator of the Toronto Dreams Project, host and co-creator of Canadiana, and a contributor to Spacing. His work earned an honourable mention for a Governor General’s History Award in 2012. Adam lives in Toronto.

Shawn Micallef

Posted by Kendra on May 9, 2017

Shawn Micallef

Shawn Micallef is a weekly columnist with the Toronto Star. He is a frequent commentator on urban issues and is known for his passion for the city — its geography, architecture, culture, and people.