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Music is one of those universal things that bring people together. It is an art form of and for the masses, and a song can be a time capsule of both personal and collective memory.

The musical instrument that most readily carries memory and feeling across generations — and without a doubt the rock star of instruments — is the guitar. From the blues and rockabilly riffs of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly to the explosive sounds of heavy metal and grunge, guitars have defined music for over a century.

It’s easy to see why people take the guitar very seriously. (There’s even an annual Air Guitar World Championship. Read about it in our book Bizarre Competitions.)

A talented guitarist can bring their band world renown, and some of the greatest guitarists are also great collectors of guitars, including Keith Richards and Neil Young.

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It’s a common scene in countless scary movies: the camera pans along a tree-lined street, past Victorian gingerbread houses, as wind chimes and children’s voices mingle in an uneasy cadence, and then we see it — the haunted house.

It’s an old house, built sometime during the 19th or early 20th centuries. At least two stories high, it has turrets or an arched veranda or ivy climbing its ageing stone walls. It is beautiful in the way historic homes always are, and yet something sinister seems to lurk within its walls...

Old Toronto Houses by Tom Cruikshank with photography by John de Visser is filled with examples of houses that could fill in for a haunted house in any horror film. In its pages are the oldest homes in Toronto as well as the most architecturally interesting houses still standing.

There aren’t any ghostly tales included in Cruickshank’s history of the city’s historic homes, so we’ve done some supernatural research ourselves to get you in a Halloween mood. Haunted or not, these amazing houses have incredible stories to tell about the city Firefly Books calls home.

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“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

– Jack London

 

Jack London was very much a man of his time. He was born in 1876 in San Francisco, and in his 40 years of life he fully embraced and embodied the spirit of adventure and freedom for which his young country was known.

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