Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, September 30

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Do you think of yourself as a Midwesterner? A Northerner? If you live in Chicago, author Ted McClelland would call you a Great Laker. McClelland spent last summer driving around the Great Lakes — a 9,600-mile trip that took him as far west as Duluth, Minnesota, and as far east as Kingston, Ontario — to research his upcoming book, The Third Coast, which looks at the Lakes as a distinct region of North America, with its own culture and common interests. Gapers Block is pleased to present a series of excerpts from the book over the next several months.

Toronto, Canada

"When I came to Toronto," says Lennox Farrell, "their idea of a parade was a few people and a drum."

That was in 1969, when Toronto was a puritanical city run by Ulster Scots. Their biggest celebration was the Orange Order Parade, modeled on the Protestant marches in Northern Ireland.

Now, Farrell's people throw the biggest party in Toronto. Farrell, who emigrated from Trinidad, is a leading organizer of Caribana, which draws a million people to watch revelers march along Lake Shore Boulevard in spangled bikinis and wild headdresses. Ludacris came one year, then name-checked the parade in his song "Pimpin' All Over the World":

I used to think that it was way too cold
'til I went to Canada and saw some beautiful hoes.
Now I hit the Caribana every year in Toronto.

Billy Dee Williams, another fan, says the Caribana dancers are "some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life." This year, basketball player Jamaal Migloire, a Toronto native, sponsored a band.

Caribana represents the city's transformation from "Toronto the Good" to one of the world's great multicultural metropolises.

"The greatest impact is not even entertainment, it's social," Farrell said. "Caribana is the face of the new Canada."

And there's something about wearing a bikini in front of a million strangers that makes even Canadians lose their inhibitions. Enjoy these pictures from this year's Caribana.

Click here to view the photo essay »

Read on:

1. Sheboygan & Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
2. Marquette, Michigan
3. Mackinac Island, Michigan
4. Grand Marais, Minnesota
5. Pays Plat First Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada
6. Isle Royale, Michigan
7. Rogers City, Michigan
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Hamilton, Ontario
10. Hamburg, New York
Buy the book.


About the Author(s)

Edward McClelland is the author of Horseplayers: Life at the Track, published in 2005 by Chicago Review Press. The Third Coast was released by the same publisher in 2008.

GB store

Recently on Detour

A Tragic Day in Chicago
While most people see the weekend after Thanksgiving as a time to begin preparations for the December holiday season, this time of year is a painful reminder to some as the anniversary of one of Chicago's deadliest fires. Ninety-two students...

The Social Life of Our Urban Spaces
"Placemaking" comes to Chicago

Don't '&' Me, OK?
The ampersand gets Wenner thinking about the distinction between race and ethnicity.

Photo Essay: Transitions
Rearview contributers interpret the theme "Transitions."

People from the Rearview Archive
Gapers Block digs into the Rearview archive in search of portraits.

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15