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December 2013

Toronto 1972 — from the shelves of the Toronto Collection

December 11, 2013 | Shawn Micallef | Comments (0)


In the past, the future was always bright. Above is a small book found in the Toronto Collection at the Reference Library from January 1972 called Development of Toronto. The city had about twenty years of post-war growth by this point, with a lot more planned. It's an of-the-moment boosterish look at Toronto just before the "reform" council of Mayor David Crombie was elected that too a critical look at where the city was going.


Look at that font.


Old Toronto names, still important, and late, great department store chains connected by underground tunnels.


1972 was also the early days of modern PATH system of tunnels underneath the new financial district skyscrapers.


Commerce Court was just then going up, adding much new territory to the PATH system.


There have been many plans for the Island Airport land, this one, residential and in the modernist style, was called Harbour City.


Yonge and Eglinton has been low and high-rise for over forty years. This is looking east, along Eglinton, with the prospoed site of Canada Square over the Eglinton Subway station.


The RCMP building has become the Grand Hotel.


Exploring the TRL's Toronto Collection — seminal reports & park histories

December 9, 2013 | Shawn Micallef | Comments (0)


This week I'll make a series of posts on some of the bits and bobs (and books) that can be found in the Toronto Reference Library's great Toronto Collection. These are all open shelf — you can browse on the 2nd floor, and discover things you didn't think you were looking for. Sometimes what appear to be dry statistics elicit heretofore-unknown facts and stories about the city. It's also interesting to look at older volumes, and compare to the city now as a way to gauge how much and how fast the city has changed. Wandering through the shelves like this is how writing ideas are generated sometimes.


Here's a copy of what's known as the "Golden Report," named after Anne Golden, chair of the GTA Task Force in the mid 1990s when the province began to seriously think about the future of this expanding region. It was a blue print for Metro Toronto and surrounding cities in the coming decades, but was shelved by the newly elected Mike Harris government. City Hall watchers with long memories look back at this report wistfully and think "what could have been".



Hard bound for posterity, the original pamphlet produced for the Village of Yorkville Park reveals some great information on how the park came about (subway line construction required tear downs, resulting in a parking lot for many years), interpreting what's there now (the park is divided along former lots and each section represents a different Canadian landscape) and some neat facts, like where the big rock came from and how they got it to Yorkville. I would like to go find the hole in Muskoka where it came from as I've always pictured a local standing by it, shaking a fist at the air yelling "Toronto!"

youryongestreet — the crowd sourced archive begins to fill up

December 3, 2013 | Shawn Micallef | Comments (1)

The Toronto Library's youryongestreet project has been up and running for just over two months now and stories and other items are beginning to fill up the empty expanses along the map. As I wrote in the Toronto Star in October of Yonge:

It’s quintessentially Toronto and representative of nearly every architectural style, shape, and size that make up this city, from shiny skyscraper to the one or two-storey “messy urbanism” that characterizes so many of our streets.

It’s also one of the few streets in Toronto that runs from downtown to the city limits, then deep into the 905 and beyond. It’s everybody’s street; a unifying symbol in a city artificially divided by politics.

The Toronto Public Library recently launched youryongestreet, a participatory online exhibit of people, places, and events where anyone can upload their stories, documents, maps, pictures and videos connected to Yonge St.

I've excerpted a bits of the opening chapter of my book Stroll: Psychogeogrphic Walking Tours of Toronto along the map. My long Yonge Street stroll, from bottom to top, is what I consider my  most important chapter for the above mentioned reasons. Most Torontonians' lives have touched the street in some way. Add what you did, or what you saw, because if you don't no one else will know.

There are a 1000 stories in the naked city, as the saying goes, and you should be writing some of them. Writer in Residence Shawn Micallef will be encouraging people to write about their city. Follow along here on city explorations and journeys into the library stacks. Shawn will also be posting some of the city-writing that he receives from people like you.

Your comments, posts, messages and creative content are welcome, provided they encourage a respectful dialogue and comply with the Library's mission, values and policies.
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