A Flâneur's Tour of Toronto

"A flâneur is anyone who wanders, and watches, the city. The 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire called the flâneur a “perfect idler” and a “passionate observer.” Baudelaire was a flâneur himself and, when he wasn’t writing poems and spending his trust fund on dandy outfits and opium, he drifted through the streets of Paris. Later, philosopher Walter Benjamin collected a chunk of thoughts on the idea of the flâneur in his epic volume of notes on Paris, The Arcades Project."

"The flâneur wanders the city, slightly invisible, just on the outside of everything – he or she observes from an anonymous perspective. That invisibility can disappear, however, if your gender is a little more female or your skin colour a shade or two away from white. What I’ve done for my columns and my book — walk largely unnoticed — may not be possible for everybody. I’ve been lucky — I fit the mould of flâneur more easily than many others. The old notion of the flâneur will be different for whomever engages in this activity, even in a diverse metropolis such as Toronto. But that doesn’t mean that other flâneurs can’t carve out ways to navigate the city comfortably, recording their own insights and noticing the ways their own particular bodies and histories interact with the cityscape." ~ Eye Weekly