3 minute read

Leonard Wise (1940–) Biography

Personal, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights

(Lenny Wise, Leonard A. Wise, Leonard Allan Wise)


Born 1940, in Chatham, Ontario, Canada; Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: University of Toronto, B.A., LL.B. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Documentary films.


Attorney, writer, and actor. Lawyer in private practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1970–2000; writer and actor, beginning 1970. Member of board of directors, Canadian Refugee Association; member of North York V.D. and Birth Control Center. Food critic for Toronto Star, 1974–76.


Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists.


Making out in Toronto, NC Press, 1979.

(Under name Lenny Wise) Toronto Eats: A Guide to over 150 Restaurants, Can-Do Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

Leonard Wise

Toronto Eats from A to Z: Apple Pie to Zabaglione: Where to Find the City's Best, Fenn Publishing (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

(Under name Leonard A. Wise; with John W. Chisholm) Are We Hungry Yet?: A Guide to the Best Budget Restaurants for Florida-bound Drivers, MayHaven Publishing (Mahomet, IL), 1996.

More Toronto Eats from A to Z, Fenn Publishing (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

(With Allan Gould) Toronto Street Names: An Illustrated Guide to Their Origins, Firefly Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

The Way Cool License Plate Book, illustrated by Christine Gilham and George Walker, Firefly Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.


While working as an attorney, Leonard Wise also built a second career through his talent for writing, working as a food critic as well as an historian in his home-town of Toronto. With The Way Cool License Plate Book Wise addresses a younger audience, creating a book designed to engage passengers on long family road trips. Including de-coding games for a variety of skill levels as well as sidebars containing "Plate Facts" and other license-plate trivia, Wise's book "can provide several hours of fun for the whole family," according to School Library Journal contributor Eldon Younce.

Wise told SATA: "I began writing in 1969 as a student of the University of Toronto when I was asked to contribute comedy sketches to a college show called U.C. Follies. Its director, Lorne Lipovitz, later took me as a writer to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for three years and changed his name to Lorne Michaels. I turned down an offer to write for the television programs Laugh-In in 1973 and Saturday Night Live in 1974, both of which decisions I now regret.

"The Toronto Star newspaper hired me as a food critic from 1974 to 1976, though I knew nothing about food (the editor was my camp counselor), which resulted in a number of humorous restaurant guides from 1981 to 1996.

"Are We Hungry Yet?: A Guide to the Best Budget Restaurants for Florida-bound Drivers was the result of a family motor trip to Florida trying to find decent diners in which to eat. After being rejected by eighty-one American publishers, a small publishing company in Illinois accepted my idea and sold a copy of my magnum opus to every library in America.

"Toronto Street Names: An Illustrated Guide to Their Origins was the result of its publisher begging me to write a history book of Toronto's streets after being turned down by two of Toronto's best historians. Though I failed history in high school, the book sold 30,000 copies and was the biggest seller in Toronto in 2000.

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"I write in longhand because computers came along too late for me."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Canadian Book Review Annual, 2000, review of Toronto Street Names, p. 325; 2002, review of The Way Cool License Plate Book, p. 561.

Publishers Weekly, November 25, 2002, review of The Way Cool License Plate Book, p. 71.

Resource Links, February, 2003, Evette Signarowski, review of The Way Cool License Plate Book, p. 45.

School Library Journal, April, 2003, Eldon Younce, review of The Way Cool License Plate Book, p. 194.

Additional topics

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