Time MARCHES on! Yes, we have passed the Ides of March [ Caesar Beware! - “I told him, Julie, don’t go...” ] and the first quarter of the year is about to become history. How much is our contribution to that history in Toronto?
With Spring and Summer comes the influx of tourists to add their numbers to the many local neighbours and fellow Torontonians who, refreshed from their hibernation, are all venturing out to, once more, enjoy the wonders of our thriving metropolis. Many more so this year, we are being warned, due to the impact of the PanAm and ParaPan Games, which will take up so much of our summer activity in the city.
What are we offering these people to enhance their appreciation of the city’s history? What preservation issues are we alerting them to? What knowledge of local heritage are we imparting to the curious? And, more important, how are we getting these messages out to the communities?
These are the constant questions that dog us as we go about the good work of protecting our parks and rivers, ravines and woodlands, our streetscapes and historical houses, our unique architecture, community museums and historic sites, our neighbourhoods. It is time to promote those walking tours, to participate in community events, to set up tables in people-centred locations, to hand out brochures and to just plain talk to the public in the streets. There are hundreds of small ways we can reach out.
Of course, all of these efforts are based on the enthusiasm and availability of our volunteers. Let us not forget to let them know how much their efforts are appreciated and admired.
We have a diverse community in the city, but most are curious and interested in its heritage and the part played by their ancestors and others in its creation and development. We can tap that civic pride and promote improvement in preservation and understanding that nothing need be lost in the race to develop Toronto as a ‘world class city’. We do ourselves and others a disservice to not think so.
Let us work together to show people the value of Toronto’s heritage and welcome a new legion of dedicated volunteers to the T.H.A. family of heritage organizations this 2015 season.
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RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT
Time to step up and recommit to the good work of preserving and promoting Toronto’s heritage to one and all.
The Annual General Meeting of the Toronto Historical Association is on Thursday, April 30th at the St. Matthew Lawn Bowling Club [ Broadview just north of Gerard ] commencing at 7 p.m. [See the notice on the website for details and the announcement sent out under separate cover]. Along with the usual offi cial business of any organisation, attendees will be able to enjoy some insights into the present state of Toronto’s heritage by Guest Speaker, Mr. Francisco Alvarez, Executive Director of Heritage Toronto.
Member groups and associates are advised that they can renew membership in the T.H.A. at the meeting and bring the association up to date on any changes to contact information, delegate changes or other matters of relevance to the groups. Renewal applications can be downloaded from the T.H.A. website or picked up at the meeting.
Most important, members can assist the T.H.A. in moving forward by volunteering or nominating to the Board of Directors. Elections will be held to renew positions or fill vacancies on the Executive. It is to your benefit to have an active role in the T.H.A. and its initiatives and efforts moving forward. Be part of the process and help your group and others for Toronto’s heritage. Nominations may be submitted to email@example.com
For some reason people like donating to a good cause and we in the heritage community have those in abundance. If wacky ideas can be supported online, movie stars fund their latest vanity show through their fans, then there should be a case for heritage organizations to tap into this wellspring of good feelings and deep pockets in the world wide community and obtain money through crowdfunding opportunities. It has become so important a source of money for many a project that there is now a professional organization to assist those seeking help. The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada and other groups are a source of instruction and guidance.
On the local front; Projexity, launched in 2013. How it works – an individual or community group can suggest a candidate site for public landscaping or a project for urban improvement. The public is invited to submit design ideas. Stakeholders get involved and with the help of community groups, city councillors and a ‘project leader’ funding and volunteers gained. Worth a look.
As with any request for money, a proper and well documented and presented proposal will go a long way toward shaking the money tree. A sound business proposal in any realm elicits a positive response. Look to your assets, both physical and in personnel, and with a proper initiative a development plan may just get funding to go ahead.
TELLING OUR STORY:
We all have stories to tell. We have a beautiful natural area that should be protected and enjoyed, a ruined lot to be remade, a building or street that needs protecting or preserving or just being recognized. We have our neighbourhood and its unique streetscape reflecting earlier times. Significant features, a host of things that reflect our heritage in the city. Groups of concerned citizens, large and small, organized or grass root, ad hoc committees abound. All have the same problem. How to cut through the information clutter around us to reach out to the people to let them know that there are things of value in our city that should be acknowledged and appreciated, is the great challenge.
With the impact of the information age, many new channels have opened up to compete and compliment traditional means. Are we capitalizing on all the methods and opportunities?
Talking – yes, that simple and basic technique of going out to speak. Knocking on doors along a street and engaging neighbours in conversation still has a strong effect on local history. Reaching out to community and social groups about the issues and features important to us is another means to an end. Nothing beats one-on-one communication. Finding local community gatherings and talking to the people can open many doors to efforts. Support these efforts with brochures. Today they can be cheaply and quickly produced, even in the home. There is value in handouts and ‘leave behinds’.
Public Areas and Businesses
Public Areas and Businesses – have table will travel. Contacting local public libraries or other community spaces to see if a display or exhibit can be set up, either a manned table or stand alone feature can help put a message in the hands of the local area. Often local commercial realtors or developers would welcome something that could temporarily fill a window or floor of a vacant property to enhance its value and draw attention to its features. Ask.
The Toronto Historical Association is attempting to revitalize the Heritage Showcase format that worked so well in major malls. To ‘sell’ the idea, though, it needs the co-operation and enthusiastic support of the groups themselves who would be the ones to set up the exhibits and displays. Letting the T.H.A. Executive know that you are willing to participate is the first step in reviving this programme that saw, at its heyday , a quarter of a million people visit our booths! Th ere is nothing to stop local groups from approaching major retailers or local malls to see if a single group or small block of groups couldn’t put up a weekend effort.
There are a number of ‘street festivals’ and large scale community eff orts. How many of the T.H.A. groups have participated or thought to get involved? Often these are ethnically oriented or sponsored. Here is a new, possibly untapped mass of people open to hearing your story. Get engaged and open doors to new volunteers.
The Ethnic Press
The Ethnic Press – there are many non-English newspapers, magazines and community reports produced daily, weekly, monthly. Has there been a effort to produce articles or information material on your projects to this audience?
How many of us have websites? This seems like a necessity these days, but, like anything else, content is the driver and the need to update and add new material is always present. How effective are we making this venue? Stories about the particular buildings, activity, community we are promoting and wanting to preserve need to be ‘refreshed’, if the numbers of people visiting the site, and, we hope, becoming involved, don’t diminish. Is there a story teller among your midst that could be encouraged to write for the website or start a blog? Are you using Facebook and Twitter or other Social Media to get out quick and vital information? Don’t overlook the children at home or at school who can help manipulate this new information protocol with ease.
For the more ambitious, there is the availability of YouTube! Yes, a community video – a commercial about your historical site, neighbourhood issue or other information can be ‘out there’ in moments! With many of today’s smartphones, the ability to produce a film is at the touch of a button . Loaded to your website, streamed or released to the ‘ether’ may result in your community heritage going ‘viral’ - nothing is too far-fetched in these days of the ubiquitous cat videos. What are you waiting for?
Engage your local councillor. These people are your source of information on what the city has planned for your neighbourhoods and local streets. They need to be talked to, informed and educated. Going to them only in times of crisis doesn’t help the cause and, they have access to sources of funding. Despite the doom and gloom of austerity budgets, there are moneys available from specific funding venues to help enhance localities. Look for them.
A number of opportunities to promote or extend the heritage community outreach were proposed in the past. It is always hard to track all the initiatives, but, a number of them were outlined in previous newsletters. How many of the T.H.A. groups took advantage of these to build up their profile in the community and the city?
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT:
First Story is a mobile App exploring the Aboriginal history of Toronto. It is an interactive multimedia map of the native history with access to stories, photographs archival documents and audio and video.Download the App to your smartphone or tablet or search the Google play store for “ First Story Comap”Check out the Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FirstStoryTorontoFor Military history there is “The Fallen”, a free computer application from Good Digital Culture that pinpoints the burial locations of 118,000 Canadians who fell in military service from the Boer War to Afghanistan. It has been around for a while but worth the look for its vast content.
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The T.H.A. continues to track and comment on the various developments at Exhibition Place. Construction is underway on the National Basketball practice facility on the west end overlooking the Gardiner Expressway, the BMO Soccer Field expansion with the addition of 10,000 seats and new features and, of course, the showcase hotel adjacent to Stanley Barracks. This latter facility, scheduled to open in September 2015, has been delayed until April 2016 as the result of weather and other impediments to construction. In the meantime the hotel people have engaged an architectural firm to work on restoration aspects of the Barracks, which are serving as office space for the developers. They are required to present to the city a proposal for appropriate reuse of the facility and its heritage imprint/impact in 2016 and the T.H.A. is monitoring that issue and actively involved in discussions with the hotel point people and appropriate city officials.
Phase one of the restoration and enhancement of Massey Hall was recently announced and efforts begun on bringing this marvellous venue back to its glory. T.H.A. is continuing to monitor and question the second phase development that impinges on the two venerable banks on Yonge Street [ 195 / 205 ]. Long time T.H.A. members will recall that the bank was the former headquarters of Heritage Toronto and the meeting place of T.H.A. and its predecessor MAHG, for many a year.
The T.H.A. was represented at various meetings to discuss the long term redevelopment of this area, which encompasses the mouth of the Don and is integral to the restoration of the natural outflow of this vital urban river. T.H.A.’s interests are both general and particular as any changes or ‘growth’ directly impacts on both the natural and built heritage of the area. There are a number of designated buildings on the site and one major facility that could potentially see a large scale heritage improvement. The T.H.A. submitted its concerns and is waiting, as are others, for the next round of discussions and proposals. This location is considered to grow over 20 years and is part of the city’s overall redevelopment of the East Donlands, Portlands and lakefront areas.
T.H.A. is following our natural heritage partners in wishing to see how the City of Toronto will implement its “Our Common Grounds” strategic plan [ ten years in the making and then stalled under the Rob Ford regime ] which would see private sponsorship and ‘official’ volunteer organizations take over cleaning / sprucing / possible operating city parks in an enhanced version of community groups and volunteers ‘sponsoring ‘ highways and roads. Little progress seems to have been made since the proposal was first released in 2004.
On the issue of parks, politics has raised its ugly head in the effort to create the first Urban National Park along the Rouge River watershed. A difference of opinion over environmental protection has arisen between the Provincial and Federal government and this has stopped the transfer of Ontario lands into the park acreage. When, or whether, this dispute can be resolved many don’t know. For now, this major protection of our natural heritage on the east side of the city has been compromised and a great opportunity seems to be lost.
The recent release of the Strategic Report of the State of Heritage, produced by the T.H.A. and Heritage Toronto, generated press coverage, mostly from the usual sources, Christopher Hume, Marcus Gee, and others whose interest is in city development. All good, of course, that the media noticed and commented. Th is trend of looking at city development and its, often negative, impact on heritage features has been growing, and that is welcomed, with a number of articles surfacing bemoaning the loss of buildings or portions of neighbourhoods, but this is all reactionary and the subjects of the stories have still disappeared. Note the heavy interest in the Stollery demolition. Sadly, the attention soon turned to what was going to replace this venerable site – the second highest structure in Canada, if the developer gets his way. In the meantime more or our built heritage slips away. The T.H.A. continues to point out, where we can, to the press, other structure and city features similarly under threat.
Th e Federal Government has launched its campaign to promote Canada’s 150th birthday, two years in advance with the release of $4 million for advertising. This, out of a total of $7.2 million allotted [ so far ] for the national birthday celebration. If this programme follows the outline of others, there will be money available at the local level for programmes in the community to promote Canada. As a strong heritage organization with many members involved in all aspects of history, we should be well suited to be recipients of funding for local events. What is in your neighbourhood worthy of being presented to the public as part of Canada’s 150th history? Best to start thinking now as 2017 isn’t that far away!
This is all part of $83 million earmarked to celebrate Canada’s military history and exploits over the remainder of the decade. The Department of National Defence has $32 million and Veterans’ Affairs $50 million for public education, ceremonies, events and remembrance partnerships. Looking to the future, can any T.H.A. member be such a partner?
The Federal Department of Heritage has prepared a document outlining “Key Milestone Anniversaries on the Road to 2017” 1016 Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s birthday, the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Raids, the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong. Are there local connections to any of these that can be part of the national celebration and bring attention to Toronto heritage?
Help for our Neighbours to the North:
The T.H.A. has had a plea from one of our northern neighbour heritage groups to help them in their effort to preserve a significant local and national heritage site. Part of the significant Black history of Ontario buildings, this is under threat and any hands all help is appreciated. Check out the website for all relevant details:
While there is no word on what will happen to the massive illuminated signage that adorns the walls of the Honest Ed emporium, there has been much in the press over how the site will be redeveloped, with a number of plans presented by the developer group from Vancouver. While it is inevitable that the current building will be demolished, in its place is a proposed edifice that will reflect the history of the site in its design. More important to the T.H.A. is that “Mirvish Village” will be enhanced and protected in the main to keep it as an enclave of the unique homes/stores that presently dot the lanes. In fact, the proposal off ers a totally pedestrian locale and opens the community up to a more friendly public realm while retaining the current ambiance. We’ll see if this becomes reality and follow the specific development proposals as they progress. Meanwhile across the street from the current discount empire, the north side of Bloor is also being redeveloped from the street front up with a multi-level tiered complex. Bloor and Bathurst will be a new and unfamiliar site in the next few years.
Is there a Toronto plan?
Vancouver has a Heritage Action Plan. All homes pre-1940 now have to be assessed before demolition is considered. Th is is to deter demolition and the loss of residential history. On average one single-family home is lost every day. – what is Toronto’s count? – There are city incentives to keep houses, but, if the owner insists on demolition they are required to recycle or reuse 90% of the material. Developers care required to divert 75% of the waste from landfill. Where does our ‘debris’ go?
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EVENTS April - May 2015:
April 1 to October 31:
Opening hours for the Tollkeeper’s Cottage Museum, starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
April 1 to July 10:
The Community History Project has a display in the Ontario Legislature.
For its April heritage talk, Heritage York is presenting its April heritage talk, by Bob Galaway on the “Aerodromes of Toronto de Lesseps to Downsview and Beyond” 7:30 p.m. at Lambton House, 4066 Old Dundas Street, York
The Town of York Historical Society presents a talk by Sandra Joyce. At 7 p.m., Ms. Joyce will discuss the 100,000 children who were sent to Canada from Great Britain, as farm workers and domestics.The presentation will be at Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen St. West. Tickets are $15 for members, and $18 for non-members, or $40 for a ticket, and an individual membership.
North York Historical Society in partnership with the North York Central Library, Canadiana Department, NYHS is presenting a talk, “LOST BREWERIES OF TORONTO” at 7:30 p.m., Jordan St. John, coauthor of “How to Make Your Own Brewskis: The Goto Guide for Craft Brew Enthusiasts.” Jordan is a nationally syndicated beer columnist. Meeting location: North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street, in Meeting Room #1 ( west side of atrium ).
Heritage Toronto and Riverdale Historical Society in partnership with the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, there will be a plaque unveiling, commemorating St. Matthew’s Lawn Bowling Club from 12 to 2 pm.
Community History Project Wednesday lecture series continues with a talk from author Margo Salnek about her photo-essay “Coach Houses of Toronto”. A wonderful chance to see beautiful excerpts from her project and her book. $10 at the door. Seating is limited, so book on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot. 750 Davenport Road at Bathurst.
Blue Canoe! Be a part of celebrating Community History Project’s mini pollinator’s garden at Davenport and Bathurst from noon to 3 pm. Look for the Blue Canoe near our commemorative birch trees. Thanks to the wonderful people at City of Toronto Parks Department, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit for making this possible. 750 Davenport Road at Bathurst.
New Toronto Historical Society:
Please join us at LAMP, 185 Fifth Street at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 for Stewart Boden from Archives Ontario. The presentation will feature historical film clips from the Archives’ Collection all produced by the Government of Ontario. Th e all Ontario subjects of the films include health promotion, tourism, education and OPS staff training. Come for this nostalgic look at Ontario’s people and places.
The Riverdale Historical Society is presenting guest John McDonald, author and historian, who will speak about some of the historical connections between Riverdale and Halton County. Th e talk will start at 6 p.m. at the St. Matthew’s Clubhouse, 450 Broadview Avenue at Langley. Admission $4 / free to RHS members.
A historical plaque commemorating the “father of public health dentistry in Canada” will be unveiled at 57 Elm Street. Remarks will begin at 3 p.m. in the atrium at the Hospital for Sick Children.
The North York Historical Society is presenting “RHUBARB REVELRY” at the Gibson House Museum at 7:30 p.m. Th e speakers are Dorie Billich, Curator and Maggie Newell, Program Office. Th is event includes refreshments and rhubarb samples in the Parlour, Dining Room and Historic Kitchen. 5172 Yonge Street, new entrance off Park Home Avenue.
The Annual General Meeting of the Toronto Historical Association. St. Matthew’s Lawn Bowling Club. Elections to the Board. Awards Presentations. Reports and Guest Speaker. See details on the website and in your e-mail inbox.
New Toronto Historical Society:
Please join us at LAMP, 185 Fifth Street on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 for Terry Reardon’s presentation on the unique and fascinating relationship between Churchill and King, Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister. Terry’s book has been the subject of interviews on radio and TVO’s Agenda. Copies of Terry’s book will be available at a discounted price of $25.00 including HST
The North York Historical Society is presenting “WHAT’S SPRINGING UP” at the Gibson House Museum between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Th is will be a celebration of the new garden, orchard and access from Park Home Avenue, and to relaunch the Gibson House Museum – post construction. 5172 Yonge Street, new entrance off Park Home Avenue.
March 5th to June 14th:
Fort York Visitors’ Centre:
Canadian war artist, Gertrude Kearns exhibit of portraits: Th e Art of Command –featuring 20 large paintings and drawings of Canadian commanders. Th is display contains provocative images and strong language and may not be appropriate for all audiences.
May 23rd and 24th:
Doors Open Toronto. Many locations throughout the city and many places associated with the T.H.A. are open to the public for this grand weekend event. One venue, the St. Matthew Lawn Bowling Club [ our AGM location] is seeking help to promote their facility. Exhibits and displays on lawn bowling or the building, costumed attendees and other help would be welcomed. Let us know if you can help.
August 22nd and 23rd:
Mississaugas of the New Credit 29th Annual POW WOW and Traditional Gathering: Th e Th ree Fires Homecoming is back again.
Please forward your activity or event to: email@example.com
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THE HISTORY OF THE WEEB?
Google Maps: Google, in its efforts to march across the world and control information on everything, offered people the opportunity to scan Google Maps and make improvements where needed. The Google Map Maker routine allowed the public to add roads, rivers, trails and points of interest - here is where groups can add their site, structure, neighbourhood or other significant feature in promoting city heritage. Has any T.H.A. group taken advantage of this?
The City of Toronto put in place a similar, smaller scale initiative way back in 2011! Called Wellbeing Toronto [ www.toronto.ca/wellbeing ] that set up a map of significant issues/features across the city. Th ere was a Twitter feature #WBtor. at the time as well. In charge at the time was Chris Brillinger, executive director of social development, finance and administration. Anyone check to see if local historic features were ever included or recognized?
University of Waterloo set up a national site called Building Stories that was to highlight historic structures in Canada with links and other information. Again, was this opportunity explored by any T.H.A. groups? www.buildingstories.co [ yes ‘co’ not com or ca ]
And, finally we suggest Daytime Television. While much of what people watch is on computers and not home TVs, there is still a great market for community based daytime lifestyle television [broadcast and streamed]. Here content is important as they have to fi ll hours of local programming so any event, news feature or other community programme can be an important time fi ller. How many groups are off ering programme ideas or alerting the local carriers to possible ‘news’? Your T.H.A. President has appeared on a number of ‘breakfast television ‘episodes and can attest to the broad reach these features have.
All of these concerns and concepts are opportunities for our T.H.A. membership to promote the good and bad of heritage in the city. It takes time, some critical and creative thinking and some help from the members, but, if the stories we tell are important, and we know they are, then we must make the eff ort to reach out to as many people as we can in as many ways as we can.
Your T.H.A. executive can guide and support you in these undertakings. Contact the Board and add your voice and expertise. Help us to help others. Strength in numbers is not a fable.
Ending on a positive note: History and heritage is making its mark on the city folk and media. Metroland Corporation has a number of online columns and blogs on history/heritage and has invited T.H.A. and member groups to develop and post stories to their sites.
www.insidetoronto.ca/toronto-topics/5326858-toronto-time-capsule to see what is already out there. Good stuff
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To post your activity or event in our newsletterplease forward your activity or event to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toronto Historical Association
P.O. Box 67, Toronto’s First
Post Office, 260 Adelaide
Street East, Toronto M5A 1N1