“About 200 people packed the back room of Toronto’s The Rivoli club on May 15 for an industry and media briefing session on The Word on the Street, the first annual Toronto Book and Magazine Fair,” reported Lori McDougall in the June 1990 issue of Quill & Quire. The one-day fair was slated to take place on Sunday, Sept. 30, with 80–100 vendors lining three blocks of the then-still “trendy” Queen Street West. The popular KidStreet was listed as part of the inaugural year’s programming, along with a brunch, a murder-mystery dinner party, cookbook demonstrations, a damaged-books hospital, and an antiquarian appraisal centre. “The fair is modelled on the popular New York Is Book Country celebration, now in its 13th year on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Anna Porter of Key Porter Books returned from the event several years ago and started talking up the idea of a similar event in Toronto, joining forces with Harald Bohne (then president of the Association of Canadian Publishers), Gordon Montador (then of the Canadian Book Information Centre), and members of the Book and Periodical Development Council to meet with Toronto mayor Art Eggleton.”
Word on the Street has since outlived its New York inspiration, which petered out following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It also long ago outgrew its original Queen Street location, moving to Queen’s Park in 2007, and again, to Harbourfront Centre, in 2015.