Jeff Chapman was not a member of the Toronto Architectural Conservancy Board for very long, but in his own, undercover way, he had been acting as an advocate and celebrant of Toronto's architecture for most of his adult life.
in Scarborough, Jeff was raised in Pickering for most
of his life, with brief stops in the greater Vancouver
and Montreal areas. Though his family favoured suburban
living, Jeff identified as a city person. He attended
York University in the early 1990s, then studied book
and magazine publishing at Centennial College. From
Centennial he moved on to a placement at Moorshead
Magazines, where he would eventually become editor
of History Magazine, a position in which he could
streamline both his interests in writing, history,
and editing things to perfection. One may not think
of the description "fearless participant" as being
a necessary or even desirable requisite of an architectural
researcher or writer. Jeff changed that. His hands-on
approach to observational architectural research brought
him international renown, though it was (and even
still is) modestly achieved under a pen name.
When he wasn't busy living what looked like perhaps an average life, Jeff Chapman was also known as Ninjalicious. Ninjalicious was as mild-mannered and humble as the everyday Jeff, he just happened to publish an extremely popular magazine called Infiltration: the zine about going places you're not supposed to go. From 1996 until Jeff's death in August, 2005, Infiltration lovingly described the hidden nooks and crannies of many of Toronto's most spectacular buildings (and many of its least spectacular), guiding fellow explorers and armchair thrill seekers along on his adventures. From the Royal York Hotel to the under-construction Sheppard Subway to the rooftops of Toronto General Hospital to storm drains far beneath the city, Ninjalicious was the voice through which Jeff chronicled a truly remarkable lifetime of adventures — all within the amazing city he was boastfully proud to call home. He saw more of — and more in — Toronto in his 31 short years than most people might in a century.
As the de facto founder of a burgeoning internet community of urban explorers, Jeff was humble, gracious, and enlightening. His hope for the hobby of urban exploration was that it would bring to others the sense of mind-expanding wonder and reverence for their environment that it had to him. As his health deteriorated in the past year, he dedicated himself to completing his life's work, a guidebook to urban exploration containing all the wisdom he'd accrued through his countless adventures. He was able to see it as a published work in July 2005, mere weeks before his truly tenacious frame would finally succumb to the cancer and liver disease that had for months been ravaging his body — but never his spirit.
His book, Access All Areas: a user's guide to the art of urban exploration is for sale from the Conservancy or from the Infiltration site.
Jeff’s photos will illustrate the upcoming Toronto Architectural Conservancy study of Concord and Delaware Avenues where he was resident.