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As a stand-in for large American cities, Toronto has fueled a busy film-production industry but done little to attract the curious, since its streets and skyline most always depict some other place. That's still the case overall, but the city's reputation as always a bridesmaid, never a bride (when it comes to movie stardom) eroded somewhat with its top billing in the film adaption of the Scott Pilgrim graphic-novel series. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World put Toronto landmarks (including Casa Loma and the since–knocked-down Honest Ed’s) on the international silver screen.

As a city on the page, however, Toronto can claim a rich legacy. It’s home to many of the country’s most prolific and acclaimed writers, which might be the reason for its literary stardom.

Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride pays homage to Toronto with a story that covers 3 decades of life in the city. Some of her other novels—The Edible Woman, Cat’s Eye, Alias Grace, and The Blind Assassin—also use Toronto as a backdrop. In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje, the celebrated author of The English Patient, is a moving love story that brings the city’s landmarks to life. Anne Michaels’ best-selling debut novel Fugitive Pieces is an intimate portrayal of two Holocaust survivors grappling with their war-defined pasts against a Toronto backdrop. Carol Shields, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author who died in 2003, set her final novel, Unless, in Toronto’s streets.

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