An Enduring Wilderness is a visual celebration of Toronto’s parks and wild lands. Through the eyes of photographer Robert Burley, we are taken on a journey across an urban wilderness that spans the size of approximately thirty Central Parks; truly, there has never been such a lavishly produced book about these green spaces until now. Complementing the rich visuals are select poems and prose by well-known Toronto writers.
As I leafed through the pages of the book, I could almost feel myself standing in the damp ravine woodlands (and being bitten by mosquitos); that’s how powerful the photography is. This is also true when the pictures feature the city colliding with nature; the juxtaposition of a dense green canopy woven through the rusted beams of a railcar bridge just sizzles.
While some may object to photos with signs of urban blight (i.e. plastic soda bottles), I believe we should applaud Mr. Burley for not sanitizing his portrayal of Toronto’s urban wilderness and presenting it as an idyllic landscape, like that found in a Disney fairytale. What we have in this substantial book is the unvarnished beauty of wild Toronto, and we should recognize it for what it really is, complete with the patina of urban decay.
In an era when more people than ever are disconnected from nature, where we spend our leisure time in malls consuming a river bursting with superfluous goods, the arrival of An Enduring Wilderness could not be timelier. The photographs in this book will inspire you, and in turn, you’ll want to discover this backyard wilderness for yourself. We need this. We need more people to reconnect with nature, and we need more people to become stewards of these irreplaceable lands. This book is a reminder of all that can be lost if we choose to ignore our natural heritage.
To learn more about the book and order a copy, please visit the following websites:
Book review by Alan Li