Just launched! Hidden Histories: Labour to Lofts

Hidden Histories: Labour to Lofts 2018

Hidden Histories is an ongoing digital mapping project undertaken by U of T students in CDN355 Digital Media, Makers, Canadian Studies. For Hidden Histories: Labour to Lofts 2018, students delved into the history of specific industrial buildings, all key to the development of Toronto’s economy, labour movements, neighbourhood expansion, and community development. 

The five factories and two community hubs profiled here are strung out across the west and east ends, with many converted into high-end lofts. While the industries may have varied, the common thread across all these Hidden Histories is the importance each had as an industrial, economic, and social hub for those whose livelihoods and neighbourhoods were shaped by Toronto’s manufacturing boom.

Also notable for its history of social services, archival digging into buildings on Bellevue Avenue, just west of Kensington Market, revealed a remarkable cluster of community organizations, for women, children, and the homeless. St. Stephen’s Community House now occupies 91 Bellevue Ave, once home to the Nathaniel Institute, founded to convert Kensington Market’s Jewish population to Christianity.

The contrasts between then and now in cost of living, access to affordable housing, and steady long-term employment in safe workplaces, foreground the challenges many people face in Toronto today, young, old, immigrant, and families. The stories told here through archival maps, photos, City of Toronto Directory records are traces of lives lived, unmarked in official records. Very little is known of the men and women who worked, and sometimes wooed, in these buildings. They, too, were also city builders, contributing to the bones of the rapidly changing streetscape we see around us. 

The Hidden Histories 2017 Project was:

Kensington Market: Hidden Histories, an geolocative history built with ArcGIS and an iOS augmented reality app, available in the Apple App store.

Canadata was a text analytic project examining the recurrence of terms related to immigration, migrants and refugees in Federal Government documents, including Speeches from the Throne, Minister Mandate Letters, and key Minister speeches.

Future of Storytelling: OMDC Digital Dialogues Panel

OMDC Future of Storytelling Panel, Digital Dialogues Conference

Back in January 2017, I was invited to speak at the OMDC’s Digital Dialogue Conference, on a Future of Storytelling Panel. The talks throughout the day were terrific, with my highlights being:

the Morning Keynote by Jeffrey Cole, Director, Center for the Digital Future USC Annenberg School for Communication Trends, Fads, and Transformation, which if you want a primer on why Jeff Bezos & Amazon will be the global dominant player & company, start here.

And the always amazing Evan Jones, CEO of Stitch Media, &  Founder, Threads Audience Development, with a pivotal talk on ‘The Customer is Always Right: Using Big Data to Increase Discoverability and Retain Fans

The OMDC conference archive of talks is here.

And my own panel, with a very lively discussion can be viewed here: Panel: The Future of Storytelling

Moderator: Nigel Newton, Director (Canada), INDE Experience Engineering
Panel: 

  • Dr. Siobhan O’Flynn, Founder, NarrativeNow
  • David Caron, Co-publisher and President, ECW Press
  • Joanne Loton, Co-Founder & Executive Producer, Sesqui
  • David Brady, CEO, Cream Productions

 

Kensington Market & Heritage Designation featured in CBC post & I’m interviewed!

Max & Son: the original sign

The CBC has a great feature on new developments as to the Kensington Market Heritage Designation. In a really surprising show of unanimity, Toronto City Council voted 39-1 for a by-law halting demolition on ‘some’ commercial and mixed-use buildings in Kensington Market for one year. In spring 2016, the City commissioned a three year study, The Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District (HCD). From published reports to date, the goal is to develop a policy framework that can safeguard the neighbourhood’s important cultural heritage given the push to replace old low rise buildings with new mid- and high-rise condos.

Councillor JoeCressy, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina, who brought the motion forward, is quoted: “So we’ve put in place the one year demolition freeze, which gives us that protection as we finalize and implement new heritage policies”

Local historian and long-time resident, Bruce Beaton, is also quoted:

“We’re not against change. That certainly is important to say,” Beaton said.

“People who live here realize historically that the place has always been changing,” says Beaton. “But a large scale change that might happen, say a large condo development, would change the environment here.”

And, I’m in here too!

Heritage Award for Kensington Market: Hidden Histories Students!

Student researchers for Kensington Market: Hidden Histories augmented reality app recognized with Lieutenant Governer’s Youth Achievement Ontario Heritage Award

lt on h

Canadian Studies students received a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement, presented by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (second from right) and Harvey McCue, Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust (far right).(Ian Crysler, courtesy of the Ontario Heritage Trust)

My UoT students received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement from the Ontario Heritage Trust 2017!

I was absolutely delighted & honoured to attend the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award Ceremony at Queen’s Park, Feb. 23, 2017, where students from my Canadian Studies course were given the award by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Heritage Trust chair Harvey McCue.

The story is now featured on the UoT Faculty of Arts & Science homepage. A few excerpts from Sean Bettam’s article:

“The Kensington Market: Hidden Histories app, which guides users through a dynamic tour of 12 locations in Toronto’s historic Kensington Market and brings to life the layers of stories embedded in the area, was made possible by students in University College’s Digital Tools in a Canadian Context course. A companion online interactive map archives histories of a total of 32 locations.”

“Receiving this award felt like it wasn’t just recognizing us students, but also the sites and locations in Kensington Market featured in our project,” said fourth-year student Arabhi Ratnajothy. “It is a reminder that so much of this city was built by immigrants who engrained themselves and their stories into the paths walked by today’s generations. We move towards the future by remembering the past.”

“Being selected for this award is such a terrific boost and affirmation for each of the students,” said course instructor Siobhan O’Flynn. “Having the opportunity to work on a project, be engaged in original research and contribute to the safeguarding of our city’s intangible cultural heritage as undergraduates is remarkable.”

“Throughout my years in the Canadian Studies program, I was always impressed by the fascinating research projects we were able to take part in with some amazing professors,” said recent graduate Nicole Paroyan. “I am so glad that a project spearheaded by Professor O’Flynn was recognized this way. None of this would have been possible without her.”