Formal notification of the Toronto Historical Association Annual General Meeting will be sent out shortly but we ask that you mark your calendars, input your blackberries and scratch the date on your forearm now as a head’s up and quick reminder to keep this date open:
Sunday, June 1, 2014: 1 pm to 3 pm at the St. Mathew Lawn Bowling Club, [ Broadview and Gerard – just north of the Don Jail and beside the Bridgepoint Health Complex on the west side overlooking the scenic Don Valley Parkway! ]. Easily accessible by TTC , there is limited on-street parking and a commercial parking lot on Gerard, east of Broadview, adjacent to the, ever popular, Tim Horton’s . As well as the usual business required, there will be an exciting guest speaker, special presentations and the chance to network with your fellow T.H.A. members. Support your Association!
It’s April! [ no foolin’] and all the excuses for delaying or not doing anything [ too cold, too wet, to dark, too snowy, too windy, etc. ] have run out! Time to turn over that old engine and get in gear for the spring/summer season filled with people exploring neighbourhoods, visiting historic sites and museums and venturing out to interesting lectures, presentations and exhibits.
What are the T.H.A. members offering the public and city visitors this season? There are plenty of opportunities and occasions, so let us not miss out on the chance to build connections and inform the people of the city of its history and heritage and to speak out on the preservation of important features-natural, built and cultural – for the future enjoyment and edification of all.
Let’s see what, together, we can accomplish this time!
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GET UP TO SPEED:
The T.H.A. year has closed [ March 31 ] Time to renew memberships and get on track for the 2014 / 15 season. Please make sure your dues are up to date and that any changes to contact information and delegates are sent in to the T.H.A. Renewal forms are available online – see the T.H.A. Website www.torontohistory.net or send a request for forms to email@example.com or call 905 866 2835
STEP UP TO THE PLATE:
As part of the AGM, mentioned previously, and to make the Association function in the best interests of all, it is necessary to have a well functioning Executive Committee. This year there will be 5 vacancies on the Board. Here is your chance to help the T.H.A. grow and be heard across the city. Nominations for the Board are being accepted right now! And, yes! You can nominate yourself! Send a brief bio [ one paragraph ] to firstname.lastname@example.org with contact information. Don’t be shy! Nominations are open to any member of a member group in good standing. Groups may nominate any one of their members [ they don’t have to be a member group board member or the existing delegate to the T.H.A. ]. Help your organization by helping the T.H.A.! The Board meets once a month, so clear your slate and put some names forward for the AGM on June 1!!
The Toronto Historical Association is still in need of a Newsletter Editor – other than being handy with a computer, no experience is necessary. A few hours a month is all that is required to collate and refine information coming in to the T.H.A. and putting together the monthly report that goes out to the members and is posted on the website. There is plenty of back up and assistance available. Calling all would be Clark Kents and Lois Lanes – you know you want to shout: Get Me Re-Write! and: Hold The Presses! Since it’s the world wide web, untold thousands will read your pithy prose!! Unleash your closet Blogger!!
You are not too late! There are still a limited number of the T.H.A. exclusive, unique, heirloom artifacts available for purchase. Just in time for Passover/Easter! The fabulous Don Jail Bricks!! Make one of these heritage items a centrepiece to your Easter Lily floral display! Watch in amusement as your kids and grand-kids delight in smashing open their chocolate eggs with a great conversation piece. There is no end to the possible uses of these grand Don Jail Bricks! Each comes with a certificate of authenticity, a brief history of the Jail and is presented in a special T.H.A. tote bag! Why give another batch or flowers or a mundane box of candy to your loved one when you can express your affection with a memento that will last a lifetime! Order today at email@example.com .$ 49.99 and it’s yours!!
LESSONS IN CIVICS:
Well, we’re up to our ears in the City of Toronto Municipal Elections. Not only are there, at least two people running in every ward for a City Council position, there are, at last count, 46! People standing up to be Mayor of Toronto. Of those, we barely hear anything, except from the so-called ‘front runners’. According to the pundits, the two major forces for Good and Evil in the city are Rob Ford and Olivia Chow, followed by a small cadre of other prominent figures. All promise great things for the city. In conjunction with Heritage Toronto, the T.H.A. is canvassing the major candidates, surveying the field and promoting input from the people running to see where they stand on issues of heritage and Toronto’s history. As in previous years, a formal survey is being presented and feedback requested from the people seeking office and this information will be collated, analysed and disseminated to the press, the public and interested parties. We hope, again, to have an All Candidates Forum closer to Election Day and, if the last event can be used as a measure of importance, we can expect a large response and heavy media coverage. More information will be forthcoming but T.H.A. members can do their part by seeking out local candidates and getting their response to local heritage issues. Knowing who and where support for our work in preserving the city’s history is coming from is important. Check out the Heritage Toronto / Toronto Historical Association Report on the state of heritage in Toronto prepared in February 2011. A pdf file is available to download / read. Check it at www.heritagetoronto.org
Many complain that our efforts go unrecognized and that community heritage groups are tilting at windmills. Well, there are opportunities to tout what we do, to recognize the efforts of key members of our groups and to praise members of the public, business and enterprise for their efforts and support of history and heritage in the GTA and the Province. One such way is through the Ontario Heritage Trust’s annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award.
Acknowledge young people 18 years of age and younger, celebrate volunteers at the local level, praise municipalities for demonstrating leadership in heritage conservation with an award. Nominations are accepted each year up to June 30 and the full information can be obtained at www.heritagetrust.on.ca
There’s no reason why we can’t give a pat on the back to one of our own. Think about someone in your group who has worked tirelessly for the cause and put the name forward. Good work should not be forgotten!
SPEAKING OF QUEEN’S PARK:
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario offers groups across the Province [ non-political, non-partisan ] a chance to exhibit and promote their efforts at Queen’s Park, There are a number of glass exhibit cabinets placed strategically around the public access areas allowing for displays of materials, artifacts and other information to visitors and parliament members and staff. These exhibits are in place from March to July each year and submissions for consideration take place each November [ not too early to be thinking of applying!] Another opportunity available to promote your endeavours and the city’s history. Contact the Community Exhibits Programme, Parliamentary Protocol and Public Relations Branch, Legislative Assembly of Ontario [ Rm 191 Legislative Buildings, Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A2 ] or check out the information online at the Queen’s Park official website then follow the links to Community Exhibits.
MAKING MONEY / TAKING KNOWLEDGE FROM HERITAGE:
Someone must be, how can we get some? Too often Heritage is lumped under ‘Arts/Culture’ and our efforts seem lost, but people visit Toronto and see the sights and leave money behind and part of their experience of the city is provided by our own community efforts in promoting the history and preserving the heritage that brings them here to experience what makes us different and unique. According to the Ontario Arts Council, culture drives tourism. 22% of the 9.5 million visitors to Ontario participated in ‘arts and culture’. 39% of overnight visitors from the US visited a cultural attraction [ museum, historic site, play, concert, etc ] The economic impact amounted to $3.7 billion in GDP that meant 67,000 jobs and $ 1.7 billion in taxes ].
We know that cultural tourists tend to be older, better educated and more affluent. They travel or go out with a specific destination or event in mind. Our job is to get on their list of ‘ things to do and see’. This takes, of course, promotion and advertising – something volunteer organizations cannot afford in many cases, but we can reach out through the community, on the3 internet, make arrangements with local media and join with other groups to promote events and a number of other possibilities to bring our history to the greater public. One possible avenue and overlooked opportunity is the ‘ethnic’ press right here in the city. According to the Federal Government studies, one in five people in Canada are foreign born. Their knowledge of our history has not been acquired through school or general study. And, although, the Conservatives are pushing a greater knowledge of Canada history as part of the citizenship programme, local history isn’t going to be part of that. We can reach out to the local community and offer special programmes to promote their understanding of their ‘ new’ city and neighbourhoods. The ethnic press is always looking for material to report on and local history/heritage can benefit. Staff at Mackenzie4 House were surprised one year to see their annual Robbie Burns’ event covered in the Chinese newspapers and featured on Russian television. “ History as a work in progress has the potential to be inclusive “ – More and more of Toronto celebrates various cultural groups – Chinese New Year, Kalsa Parades, Greek on the Danforth, CHIN Italian Picnics, Caribana - there’s no reason why T.H.A. groups can’t tap into this to our benefit. The more who know our history, the more who will work to preserve it.
A few years back in Vancouver a group of community leaders and academics got together and created Anniversaries for Change that examined and noted key anniversaries of cultural group events or incidents that could be honoured, acknowledged or recognized to bring disparate city dwellers together. Conferences were held, curriculum for schools developed and media involvement sought. Museums and other sites were encouraged to look at how some of these groups impacted their community and integrated those stories into the exhibits, presentations and lectures. Is there a place for us to do this as well?
GETTING OUT THERE:
The weather is getting better, so the forecasters claim. Time to start ramping up the walking tours and getting out and about in the local community. Our own Chief Planner for the city, Jennifer Keesmatt says, “ we haven’t done a very good job of planning our city for walking “. Only 12% of school kids walk or cycle to school a complete reversal from ‘ olden days ‘ when everyone walked 7 miles to school uphill both ways. Concern for safety, of course, is a large mitigating factor, worries of young children trying to cross multi-lane roads with cars which regularly speed through yellow and often run red lights is an issue. But, what about when they get there? If you have walking tours why not offer them to local schools? A short local history saunter around the neighbourhood pointing out things the children and, I suspect, the teachers didn’t know about can only help promote your efforts, bring in new members and encourage the appreciation of what makes the city great!
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It seems the Toronto Historical Association has been swamped with matters of heritage in the city over the last little while and the Board of Directors has tried to attend or participate in as many of the issues as possible to keep abreast of what is happening in Toronto. Many of these will be touched on or reported at the upcoming AGM but a couple of items should be noted here.
DPS: Development Permit System
City departments are proposing that Council adopt in some areas the alternative programme known as the Development Permit System in pl ace of the current Zoning Programme. Called “ Reset TO – Towards Neighbourhood Planning “ it would offer a different process for establishing the look of neighbourhoods, height and redevelopment limits and area based plans that “ reflect local character and distinctiveness”. The T.H.A. attended presentation events where the new idea was presented and participated in a community process where a large number of interested ‘stakeholders’ commented on, debated and discussed the proposed restructuring of the zoning/permit issue. It would take too long to present here and the process is in its very early stages at present. More information from the city may be obtained by checking out www.toronto.ca/planning/reset
The T.H.A. was represented at various meetings of the Exhibition Place Board of Governors to listen to and comment on proposals for the redevelopment of Ex Place / CNE Grounds. The main concerns of the THA and associated member groups remain the impact of such endeavours on the heritage aspects and history of the area. Already actively monitoring and negotiating with those building the hotel on the parking lot adjacent to Stanley Barracks, the T.H.A. brought its concerns forward regarding the MLSE proposal to enlarge and rebuild the BMO stadium and how that will affect the heritage infrastructure and/or alter such events as the CNE, the Indy and the local community.
MULTIPLICITY OF MATTERS:
In the important files in-basket at the T.H.A. are the following issues: The Toronto Island Airport Expansion, The Joy Gas Station, 195 / 201 Yonge Street-Massey Hall Re-Development, Sam The Record Man Sign, Mirvish / Gehry Development, Ontario Place, The Portlands, PanAm Games, Needless to say, this seems to be an exciting time in the city and an important moment for Toronto’s heritage outlook.
Near and Far:
The T.H.A. has been approached by the Federal Government to help collate information in our local area on upcoming commemorations surrounding the 100th Anniversary of World War I and the 70th Anniversary of World War II. If any group – T.H.A. member or not – who has information regarding any local effort to acknowledge these important occasions please send details to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Specifically we’re looking for events falling on June 6th [ D-Day ] for WWII and Aug 4th for WWI, though anything to do with commemorating these historic periods is of importance and should be noted and promoted.
2015 will mark the anniversary of two events both ancient and modern – the 400th anniversary of Samuel Champlain’s visit to what is now Toronto – a key moment in the French and early history of the city’s origins. This is an opportunity for T.H.A. francophone member groups especially, but all of us to illuminate a little know moment in our local heritage.
Also 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the ‘New” Toronto City Hall – already a couple of T.H.A. groups are3 planning a programmes for Nathan Philips Square and the City Hall Rotunda – more T.H.A. groups can be included in this effort- just send your query to the T.H.A. through the usual means.
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Check out the many events at the City of Toronto Museums by going to: www.toronto.ca/museum-events
Thursday April 10: Heritage York
Heritage York presents DALE O'HARA, giving a talk on “Acres of Glass - the Dale Estates in Brampton”, at 6:30 pm, talk at 7:30 pm, at Lambton House, 4066 Old Dundas Street, York (Bus 55 from Jane TTC station, stops at the door),
Wednesday April 17: North York Historical Society
The North York Historical Society presents a talk by SCOTT KENNEDY on the topic “Willowdale: Yesterday's Farms, Today's Legacy”, at 7:30 pm at the the North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street, meeting Room #1 (west side of atrium - use elevator outside the library).
Sunday April 20: Community History Project
Easter Sunday at the Tollkeepers Cottage Museum. Come and visit the Tollkeepers' Cottage Museum from 1 pm to 4 pm, for a very special Victorian Easter Celebration. Make a Victorian Candy Holder, and look for the hidden chocolate eggs. 750 Davenport Rd at Bathurst.
Wednesday April 23: Community History Project
Wednesday Spring Lecture Series. The Community History Project at the Tollkeepers' Cottage Museum presents WENDY WOODWORTH, Heritage Horticulturist for the City of Toronto at Spadina House. Wendy will tell us how the magical gardens of Spadina House were brought back to their heritage condition for the enjoyment of us all, from 7 pm to 9 pm. 750 Davenport at Bathurst.
Thursday April 24: Ontario Historical Society
The Ontario Historical Society presents a talk by STEVEN BIGGS, author of “No Guff Vegetable Gardening & Grow Figs Where You Think You Can’t” on the topic “Urban Gardening, Growing Figs in Toronto”, at 7 pm, at John McKenzie House, 34 Parkview Ave, Willowdale.
Admission: $10, preregistration required as space is limited.
Phone: 416-226-9011 or email: ohs@ontariohistoricalsociety
Saturday April 26: Lincoln and Continental Owners Club.
Clear-out-the-Cobwebs Motor Tour. The Lincoln & Continental Owners Club present a tour for vintage cars and trucks.
Phone: 416-509-8154 or email: email@example.com
Saturday May 3: Costume Society of Ontario
A lady can never have too many hats – Fascinating Fascinators. The CSO is offering a workshop on making these delightful head pieces seen at all the fashionable events. Get a do-it-yourself model ready in time for the Queen’s Plate!. Space is limited for this special workshop. From 11 am to 3 pm, at the St, Mathew Lawn Bowling Club. For details and to book a place to go to the CSO website at www.costumesociety.ca and then to the links for events / exhibitions / CSO activities.
Wednesday May 7: Swansea Historical Society
The Swansea Historical Society presents a talk by the REV. DR. KAREN DIMOCK, pastor at Morningside High Park Presbyterian Church, on the subject of “Morningside-High Park's long time role in the Swansea community, and recent developments bringing the Church into the 21st century.
Wednesday May 21: North York Historical Society
The North York Historical Society presents a talk by MIKE FILEY, on the topic “Toronto, Then and Now”, at 7.30 pm. This presentation will contrast a variety of locations in Toronto through the use of rare old photos and present day views. At the Downsview Library, 2793 Keele Street. Parking available.
Sunday June 1: Toronto Historical Association
Annual General Meeting. At the St. Mathew Lawn Bowling Club, [ Broadview and Gerard – just north of the Don Jail and beside the Bridgepoint Health Complex on the west side overlooking the scenic Don Valley Parkway! ] from 1 pm to 3 pm.
Admission: members only.
Thursday June 19: United Empire Loyalists
The Anniversary of Loyalist Day. Queen’s Park will host the special event at 11 am with a special flag raising on the grounds at the Legislature. UEL personalities will attend in costume and period dress and the public is invited to witness this occasion and celebrate the arrival of the early settlers to the city / region.
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If you have something you would like in the THA newsletter or a special event, please submit it to the editor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regular mail will be picked up as usual at Toronto’s First Post Office.
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P. O. Box 67, Toronto’s First Post Office, 260 Adelaide Street East, Toronto M5A 1N1