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Urban Exploration couldn’t have asked for a better advocate than Jeff Chapman. Before he died of cancer this past summer, Chapman (aka Ninjalicious) had tirelessly introduced hundreds to the burgeoning hobby of “going places you’re not supposed to go.” He published the zine Infiltration for almost a decade, started online discussion groups and explored countless buildings in Toronto.

He also self-published Access All Areas, an introduction to the hobby he so passionately pursued. The book outlines everything you’d need to know to start exploring a city’s tunnels, abandoned buildings and construction sites. It walks you through equipment needs, psychological and physical preparation, tips on finding exploration sites and more. It also doesn’t downplay the risks that asbestos, toxins and irate security guards can pose to the curious, but balances this with clear-headed advice on how to avoid these menaces.

It does this with so much wit, style, verve and, above all, passion that it was hard for me not to put the book down and plan my first outing. Luckily for me, Ninjalicious has taken the time to include some memorable anecdotes of his fondest excursions. My favourite was the almost romantic-sounding expedition into the remains of a floating restaurant moored near Hamilton. The book also tries to impart a code of explorer ethics. To Ninjalicious, exploring the city’s hidden spaces was not unlike exploring a national park. Leave nothing behind but your footprints, respect your surroundings and anything or anyone you might find.

Chapman hasn’t just given us an introduction to Urban Exploration, he’s also created a readable and entertaining definitive work. A Joy of Cooking for those more attached to flashlights, blueprints and wandering abandoned buildings. (Ron Nurwisah)

by Ninjalicious, $20, 242 pgs, Infiltration, P.O. Box 13, Station E, Toronto, ON, M6H 4E1,

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