Last Chance: Destination Canada Exhibit Closes July 30!

July 24, 2017 | Nicole

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visitor pins the Destination Canada map

Destination Canada, our free exhibit exploring stories of migration and belonging, is ending soon! You have until Sunday, July 30 to see it at the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery. Admission is free and you can visit anytime during regular library hours. Our last guided tour of the exhibit is Tuesday, July 25 at 2 pm. 

The exhibit showcases a range of materials from the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana including images from the Toronto Star Photograph Archive, broadsides and ephemera, maps, personal diaries and letters.

Bags of sod and minerals collected by Robert Baldwin
Small bags of dirt and minerals collected by Robert Baldwin when he returned to Temple Martin, Ireland, the home of his grandfather who had emigrated in 1799. Baldwin is considered one of the key architects of responsible government in Canada. 

This is the first time that items donated to the library's Chinese Canadian Archive, which launched last year, have been exhibited. The Chinese Canadian Archive will collect and preserve documents, photographs and memorabilia that reflect the rich heritage of the Chinese Canadian community in Toronto.

Letter from Immigration inspector-in-charge, airline ticket and travel documents  Chinese Canadian Archive Gift of Judy Fong Bates
Letter from Immigration inspector-in-charge, airline ticket and travel documents, Chinese Canadian Archive, Gift of Judy Fong Bates

In 1955, five-year-old Fong Mun Sin, along with her mother Fong York Line, boarded flight CP AL308 from Hong Kong to join her father, Fong Wah Yen, who was living and working at a hand laundry in Allandale, Ontario. Fong Mun Sin, now known as Judy Fong Bates, is an acclaimed author who has written about her parents' lives in small-town Ontario in her memoir The Year of Finding Memory (2010). Items from her and her mother's journey are on display in the exhibit. 

Childhood Doll
This childhood doll accompanied Emma Andrews on the flight from Honduras to Vancouver.

The exhibit also features stories, interviews and mementos from speakers 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. The doll above was brought by Emma Andrews when she immigrated to Canada in the 1980s. In her own words: 

“During the ‘80s, Honduras was affected by civil wars in neighbouring countries, and it was a dangerous place to live. When my younger brother and I were students, my parents were worried that we could be harmed, we could be kidnapped – anything bad could happen to us. For this reason, I came to Canada, and my brother went to the United States. My brother went back to Honduras after the political climate changed, but against my parents’ wishes, I did not return.”

  World Map in Destination Canada (detail)

Visitors to the exhibit have been encouraged to leave something of their own journey when they visit the exhibit. Over the last nine weeks, it has been incredible to see the many places around the world that visitors have identified as their "home."

World map in Destination Canada (detail)

The exhibit includes a selection of historic materials which relate to some of the “push” and “pull” forces that have influenced the reasons why settlers and newcomers have come to Canada at different points in our history. 

What has or what would motivate you to pick up your life and relocate to another place? You can see how visitors have answered the question  in the picture below.

Graph depicting how exhibit visitors have answered the question: what would motivate you to move to another place?

 

Letter from Gilbert Agar, General Secretary, Social Service Council of Ontario to Marjory Gregg, University Settlement Toronto: May 14, 1920 History of Canadian Settlements fonds
Letter from Gilbert Agar, General Secretary, Social Service Council of Ontario, to Marjory Gregg, University Settlement Toronto: May 14, 1920. History of Canadian Settlements fonds

The exhibit also touches on some of the complex challenges faced by newcomers as they have settled here, as well as some of the early services, societies and community centres that extended a helping hand. The library, for example, has long played a role in the settlement process. In 1920, Miss Rorke, a staff member of the public library, requested assistance in finding someone who could help “foreigners” obtain library cards. In the letter above, Gilbert Agar, General Secretary with Social Service Council of Ontario suggests that “it seems a good piece of Canadianization work to encourage our foreign born residents to make the fullest use possible of the library.”  

Today, Toronto Public Library is often one of the first stops for newcomers as they get started in Toronto and Canada. You can find out more on the library's New to Canada website or on the New to Canada blog. 

Notes left for newcomers by visitors to the exhibit
Notes left for newcomers by visitors to the Destination Canada exhibit

Visitors to the Destination Canada exhibit have contributed heartfelt and inspiring notes of welcome for those who have recently arrived, often sharing something of their or their families' stories. Read them and add your own! 

If you can't make it out to the Toronto Reference Library before July 30, you can always check out some of the items in the exhibit on our Digital Archive.  

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