When I was a kid, long before I knew the names of any Prime Minister of Canada, or any President of the United States, I drew maps. I loved them then, and I still love them to this day. I’d grab the latest map inserted in the family’s National Geographic and try to squish the name of every town and lake into every traced replica. I’d draw stars in for the capital cities and adjust the font size of my hand writing to match the apparent size of each village or city. For the longest time I thought each map was my training towards becoming a professional cartographer.
And then, I was told I had to stop failing Math.
Fast forward a few decades and into my 12th year as a hired editorial cartoonist I finally got to live my childhood fantasy of getting paid to be a cartographer. From November 2009 to May of this year I was assigned on a free lance basis to draw maps for a series of features regarding the communities and areas which make up Toronto. Every Thursday, the Toronto edition of Metro would include this in their newspaper available for free throughout the city and aimed at the commuting readers.
Some of the areas were familiar to me as I had spent a few years in the 1990’s living as resident of the College Street Little Italy area. Other areas were and continue to be a mystery place for me. Thanks to Google Street view, I was able to visit each area from the comforts of my own home office here in Hamilton without ever having to see for myself the progress of particular condo developments I was assigned to pinpoint. Because the Google Street view mobiles had only just made their trek through Toronto a few months prior, I was able to identify the condos which were in the process of being built by the huge signs that go months in advance of big construction projects.
The series ran its course a couple months ago after covering many different areas of Toronto. Douglas Dunlop, the editor in charge of the series Spaces and Places has put together a nice website which chronicles all the issues we put out.
I owe much to Douglas, Metro, and Google Maps for letting me experience a childhood dream. Suck on that mathematics!