In the early weeks of the pandemic, life seemed to come to a halt; life was more chaotic than ever. Sourdough starter bubbled away; morgue vans lined the street. It felt endless; it was only supposed to last a few weeks.

By the end of the first month, two and a half thousand people were dying each day. Yet in what became a hallmark of the pandemic’s surreality, for some it was oddly peaceful. “There was a simplicity to life,” says Daniel Rotsztain, an urban geographer in Toronto. “All of a sudden, you have no choice but to be where you…


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