Font Size

Jane Jacobs: “Toronto is a very refreshing city to come to from the states. It’s all full of romanticism, quirks and surprises and ingenuity…This isn’t a dead city. There doesn’t seem to be much creativity at the top. It seems to me that Toronto has kind of a split personality, a civic schizophrenia. On the one level there’s a marvelous spirit of individuals and small groups who do things, what you might call the vernacular spirit. This all very informal, ingenious, quite romantic and full of fun, a great deal of fun but it seems to me the official spirit of Toronto is stamp out fun, pompous, impressed with mediocrity if it’s very, very big and expensive.”

In the winter of 2009 the city of Toronto was wall papered with flyers stating, “TERRY THE RAT.”

Terry the Rat was Terry Ross, a small man who handed out flyers on Queen Street West for King Textiles and Active Surplus. He had worked briefly for James Gillis aka “Dr. Jamie” posting flyers. Part of his job was to tear down my flyers.

Terry had given me no reason to help him. He had given me every reason not to. However as I pondered the situation the words of The Last Judgement in Matthew came to me. “As you did/did not do for the least of these my brothers you did/did not do for me.” In that moment Terry became for me Christ.

I bought my first video camera. I filmed the posters. I posted the video on the web. I then contacted everyone I could think of in the government from the PMO on down plus all the journalists who make a career out of being concerned. All but one said there was nothing they could do.

That one was in then Mayor David Miller’s office. She said she would get it stopped. She did.

Gillis first began posting flyers professionally in 2000. He once lived here. One day that first year I saw him posting a three page document. He did not see me. When he left I read it. It was the first of what was to be many attacks on myself each progressively worse.

In THE RAMSDEN DECISION the SUPREME COURT OF CANADA defended street postering as freedom of speech for people without access to mainstream media against the wishes of every city in the country including Toronto. They did not defend it to be turned into a business for the private profit of a few. They did not defend it as yet another medium for mainstream media.

The City of Toronto took a long time coming up with its street poster bylaws. They are extremely well thought out. They are eminently fair. The only problem is that they are not enforced.

I think we all agree that posting anonymous flyers designed to incite violence upon their subjects not only does not fall under freedom of speech but is also heinous. Jane Jacobs, the author of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES, was my friend from her arrival in Toronto in 1968 until her passing in 2006. Her last book, DARK AGE AHEAD, aptly describes the world we now live in. Jane said that when we see wrong being done and do nothing, not only do we become the greater wrong we kill our soul. She is not alone in saying that.

Jane, to the best of my knowledge, was an atheist. However she understood the Last Judgement better than many theists.

Terry Ross was not the only ex-employee of James Gillis to be slandered with anonymous posters. Another employee, Daniel Goggin, was slandered with anonymous posters that stated he was secretly filming women up their skirts and drug dealers doing their deals. Daniel’s address was given on the flyers. He was living here at the time.

What I am asking people to do is to stand up for street postering as Freedom of Speech for the poor (as the Supreme Court intended). I am asking people to put an end to the years of anonymous slander that has been posted on our streets.

Annie Besant was an atheist too, She said, “Someone ought to do it, but why should I? Someone ought to do it, so why not I? Between these two sentences lie whole centuries of moral evolution.”

One day riding my bike (long before I read this) I saw a blind man waiting to cross an intersection. My first thought was, “Someone will help him.” My second was, “Why can’t that someone be you?”

My whole life has been about being that someone.

It is vain to speak to those who say “Why should I?” They have been and always will be in the majority.

I am hoping you are in the minority that says, “Someone ought to do it, so why not I?”

The minority does not need to be asked.

A lawyer I spoke with advised me to go to the police. He said, “Tell them you are a member of the LGBTQ community and that this is hate.” I am. It is. He said, “They will roll their eyes because that means now they have to act.

I do not want them acting for that reason. I want them to act because they care about the least of these the brothers and sisters of that Judge we are all going to face.

If they refuse, if you refuse, that is not my problem.

In 2004 when DARK AGE AHEAD was published reviewers said Jane Jacobs was wrong. In that book she wrote “Dark ages happen when people forget.” They do.

Native American Elders teach that punishing wrong doers pounds the wrongness in. I’m with them.

But it does seem to me that when a person consciously does their best to harm others they need to be stopped.

Henry Miller writes in AN OPEN LETTER TO SURREALISTS EVERYWHERE, “…When at last each man realizes that nothing is to be expected from God, or society, or friends, or benevolent tyrants, or democratic governments, or saints, or saviours, or even that holiest of holies, education, when each man realizes that he must work with his own hands to save himself, and that we need expect no mercy, perhaps then…Perhaps! Even then, seeing what manner of men we are, I doubt. The point is that we are doomed…No God is coming to save us. No system of government, no belief will provide us with that liberty and justice which men whistle for with the death-rattle….What distinguishes the majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. The hero is he who raises himself above the crowd…To get men to rally round a cause, a belief, an idea, is always easier than to persuade them to live their own lives.”

I include this to say that I am fully aware that lesser people will always be lesser people.

In that same essay Miller writes, “When a man is truly creative he works single-handed and he wants no help. A man acting alone, on faith, can accomplish what trained armies are incapable of doing. To believe in one’s self, in one’s own powers, is apparently the most difficult thing in the world…Whenever an English artist of any value has arisen he has been marked as Public Enemy No. 1.”

My first venue in Toronto was called THE PUBLIC ENEMY. That was where I met Jane Jacobs. Her children say to me, “Our mother loved you.”

Laura Lynd wrote, “Reg Hartt is everything Jane Jacobs wrote about in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.”

What makes me that is both how little his city seems to value myself as well as the constant efforts to destroy me. Without that I would not be everything she wrote about in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES: .

In this moment I am Christ. So too is every person we see  homeless, hungry, thirsty, naked, a prisoner and a stranger.

In short, the ones who cannot pay for help.

We are told all things work for the good for those who love God.

When Peter was crucified (upside down) and Paul was beheaded that must have been hard to see.

Nonetheless it is true. All things including this work for the good.

–Reg Hartt


The Rites of Manhood

It’s snowing hard enough that the taxis aren’t running.
I’m walking home, my night’s work finished,
long after midnight, with the whole city to myself,
when across the street I see a very young American sailor
standing over a girl who’s kneeling on the sidewalk
and refuses to get up although he’s yelling at her
to tell him where she lives so he can take her there
before they both freeze. The pair of them are drunk
and my guess is he picked her up in a bar
and later they got separated from his buddies
and at first it was great fun to play at being
an old salt at liberty in a port full of women with
hinges on their heels, but by now he wants only to
find a solution to the infinitely complex
problem of what to do about her before he falls into
the hands of the police or the shore patrol
—and what keeps this from being squalid is
what’s happening to him inside:
if there were other sailors here
it would be possible for him
to abandon her where she is and joke about it
later, but he’s alone and the guilt can’t be
divided into small forgettable pieces;
he’s finding out what it means
to be a man and how different it is
from the way that only hours ago he imagined it.

Poem: “The Rites of Manhood,” by Alden Nowlan from What Happened When He Went to the Store for Bread. © Nineties Press. Reprinted without permission.




A brief history:

James Gillis aka Dr Jamie.

“I have seen those posters attacking Reg Hartt. They are hate.”–Joe Cressy.

Daniel Goggin on being smeared with anonymous street posters:

Daniel Goggin 2017 09 27:

Anonymous phone calls: Reg Hartt, I am going to ruin you.

Postering for pay trumps freedom of speech. Who is behind the decades long war on Reg Hartt?

David Peter Allen on being offered money by James Gillis (aka Dr. Jamie) to kill Reg Hartt

John-Paul Re on working for Dr. Jamie

Many like to describe this as a feud between James Gillis and myself. It is not. This post from 2010 makes that clear:

Anonymous hate:


« »