toronto zine

The top 8 zine fairs and small press events in Toronto

The top zine fairs and small press events in Toronto are a great way to discover countless unsung and under-distributed literary works - and an entire artistic community unto itself. From creators of do-it-yourself zines to independent magazines and small publishing houses, Toronto's indie publishers are passionate about the written (and collaged, and Xeroxed) word. But, as any artist knows, there's not a ton of money in creativity - which has led creators to band together, creating events that showcase and sell their work.

In honour of International Zine Month, I've rounded up the top recurring events for zines and small press books. (Keep your eye out for more one-off events this month too, including a zine-making workshop hosted by Shameless magazine this Saturday.)

Here are my picks for the top zine fairs and small press events in Toronto.


It's the granddaddy of all Canadian zine fairs. Broken Pencil magazine's annual extravaganza of all things small-press-related has been giving Canadian zinesters and fans a meeting ground for nearly 20 years (and has since been joined by sister events in Winnipeg and Vancouver). The festival's current home is the 918 Bathurst Community Centre, which gets filled top to bottom each year with indie writers, artists, cartoonists, and crafters; somehow, the organizers still find space to host panel discussions and workshops. Mark your calendar for November 1.

Zine Dream
This small press/art fair, now in its seventh iteration, has been going strong at the Tranzac (conveniently, also home to the Toronto Zine Library) every summer since 2008. This year's three-day event (August 8-10) is set to feature more than 60 exhibitors at the Sunday zine fair, in addition to a panel discussion (moderated by DUMB Comics' Georgia Webber), and live performances.

Toronto Queer Zine Fair
The Toronto Queer Zine Fair was launched in 2013 in response to what organizers called a lack of queer representation in the zine community. Last year's inaugural event featured more than 30 zine creators (and they mean zines - books, crafts and other indie-fair staples take a backseat here), as well as a free vegan lunch and an after-party. It's set to return on October 4 at the United Steelworkers Hall.

OCAD Zine Fair
OCAD's very own zine library loans out titles all year long, but once a year, they'll help you build a library of your own with the school's annual zine fair. Every spring, OCAD students pack the lobby of 100 McCaul, selling their own zines and self-published works. The sixth annual event was held in March; keep your eyes peeled for next spring's event, and you might just discover the indie publishing world's next big thing. Follow the OCAD Zine Library on Facebook for updates.

Toronto Zine Library AGM
Buying zines is easy, but if you want to get directly involved with Toronto's zine community, the Toronto Zine Library - located in the upper floors of the Tranzac - is a great place to start. Each year, Toronto zine creators and aficionados gather to discuss and sign up for volunteering opportunities, shape the library's future, and share a bunch of snacks. Keep your eyes peeled for the next meeting at the start of 2015 - and in the meantime, stop by and read something.


Toronto Indie Arts Market
The Toronto Indie Arts Market hosts a gaggle of seasonal events focusing on fashion, crafts, and other handmade bits and bobs; occasionally, they'll cede the floor to small-press publications and zines with a Small Press and Literary Festival. Previous iterations in winter 2013 and spring 2014 have featured everything from comics and indie magazines to paper card creators and all manner of authors. Follow them on Facebook for future fair announcements.

Toronto Comic Arts Festival
As the name suggests, this massive fair, held every spring at the Toronto Reference Library, skews far more toward the comics-oriented side of publishing.The artists and publishers taking part, too, are often more established than your average home-publishing zinester. But there's still plenty of independent and DIY genius to be found, from self-published zines, comics and novellas to indie publishers from the U.S. and beyond. The 2015 festival has already been announced for May 8-10.

Word On The Street
Sure, it's a good place to pick up discounted paperbacks straight from the publisher and some back issues of your favourite Canadian mag. But this outdoor publishing fair, which takes over the Queen's Park Circle every September, does make some space for small presses and independent authors, and events like poetry slams lend an extra helping of independent culture. This year's event is set for September 21.

Did I miss any? Leave your favourite zine and small press events in the comments.

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