Destination Canada: New Exhibit Explores the Stories of Newcomers Throughout our History

May 18, 2017 | Nicole

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Crowds outside Canadian Immigration Office in London, England, 1956. Photo by Rosemary Gilliat. Canada. Dept. of Manpower and Immigration / Library and Archives Canada / PA-181010

Opening this Saturday, May 20, our new exhibit Destination Canada explores personal stories and individual circumstances that have shaped newcomer experiences over time: the reasons for coming, the journey, early experiences and impressions upon arrival, and the process of finding a place of belonging. The exhibit is on display in Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until July 30. Admission is free and the gallery is open during regular library hours.

Cunard to Canada: “A Welcome Awaits You,” Nottingham, England: Thos. Forman & Sons, Ltd., broadside, 1930.
Cunard to Canada: “A Welcome Awaits You,” Nottingham, England: Thos. Forman & Sons, Ltd., broadside, 1930.

Destination Canada showcases materials from the library's Baldwin Collection of Canadiana including posters advertising settlement in Canada, hand-written diaries and letters, menus and ephemera from transatlantic crossings and photographs from the Toronto Star Photograph Archive.

 

Dr. Fidel Exemenari greets his three children after they arrive in Toronto from Biafra, 1970. Frank Lennon/Toronto Star. From the Toronto Star Photograph Archive.
Dr. Fidel Ezemenari greets his three children after they arrive in Toronto from Biafra, 1970. Frank Lennon/Toronto Star. From the Toronto Star Photograph Archive.

This exhibit is one of the first opportunities to see a small selection of the personal photographs and documents donated to Toronto Public Library’s Chinese Canadian Archive.

Chin Ng paid $500 Head Tax to join his father in Canada in 1918. The amount paid was sufficient to buy two houses at that time
Chin Ng paid a $500 Head Tax to join his father in Canada in 1918. The amount paid was sufficient to buy two houses at that time. Photo courtesy of Jim Rosenthal.

Destination Canada also includes personal mementoes and interviews with storytellers with Passages Canada. Passages Canada is a national storytelling program of Historica Canada that invites newcomers and established Canadians to share their personal experiences of identity, heritage and immigration with groups of all ages. Be sure to visit Passages Canada’s growing online story archive here.

Here are five more ways to discover more newcomers' stories and learn how to share your own.

 

1. Ask me my story!

Join us next Tuesday, May 23 at 5:30 pm to celebrate the launch of the exhibit. Passages Canada volunteer speakers will serve as "Roaming Storytellers" during the event. Holding signs that read “Ask Me My Story,” storytellers will mingle in the crowd sharing their personal stories of immigration.

Interested in sharing your own story? Representatives from Historica Canada’s Here’s My Canada contest will be on hand to help you record a 30-second video about what Canada means to you. Find more about the contest – and the great prizes you can win here.

 

2. Learn how to collect stories with the Multicultural History Society of Ontario

For over 40 years, the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO) has been actively involved in recording immigrant and ethnic stories.

In conjunction with the Destination Canada exhibit, the MHSO will be leading two free hands-on workshops on the practical and ethical standards for the creation and use of oral histories. Participants will listen to interview clips from the MHSO's oral testimony collection and then apply what they have learned by conducting interviews with other workshop participants. 

The workshops will be held in the Toronto Reference Library’s Discussion Room (3rd floor) on June 15 and June 22. Registration is required as space is limited. Email ndawkins@torontopubliclibrary.ca to register.

 

3. Discover more about the Working Lives of Chinese Canadian Women

After you visit the TD Gallery exhibit, be sure to head to the 3rd floor of the Toronto Reference Library to see a complementary exhibit presented by the Multicultural History Society of Ontario entitled The Working Lives of Chinese Canadian Women: 1923-1967. Perfectly timed for Asian Heritage Month, the exhibit explores the experiences of Chinese Canadian women as homemakers, restaurateurs, doctors, business owners and more from the 1920s to the late 1960s – a period of restricted immigration to Canada. The exhibit runs until July 30.

It is adapted from the MHSO's online initiative, Chinese Canadian Women, 1923-1967: Inspiration - Innovation - Ingenuity.

  MHSO

4. Follow (and taste!) the Maize with Dishing Up Toronto

Which tastes remind you of home? Stories of identity and migration are often closely tied to food. Dishing Up Toronto™ is a food and storytelling program created by the Toronto Ward Museum in collaboration with Culinaria at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.

On July 6, join us in the Toronto Reference Library’s Beeton Hall for Dishing Up Toronto: Follow the Maize - From Mexico to the Great Lakes. This free program will explore the story of corn and its significance to two different indigenous cultures, in Mexico and around the Great Lakes. You’ll have a chance to taste delicious samples from both cultures and from Maizal Cafe's kitchen.

Registration is required. Book your free tickets here beginning May 20 at 9 am.

This program is presented in partnership with Toronto Ward Museum, Culinaria at UTSC, First Story Toronto, Catherine Tammaro and Maizal Restaurant.

 

Fourteen nationalities are represented in this primary class at York Street Public School in Toronto, 1923.
Fourteen nationalities are represented in this primary class at York Street Public School in Toronto, 1923.

5. Join us for a guided tour

Free guided tours are offered in the gallery every Tuesday at 2 pm. No need to register, just drop in! We'd love to hear your story of what brought you or your family here. 

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