Built Heritage News – Issue No. 208 | March 12, 2013

The current issue of Built Heritage News can be found here.

Click on the link in the previous sentence to access the newsletter.

Among the highlights is the following text from Nathan Ng:

10. Historical Maps of Toronto: Simple, free, online access: Nathan Ng

Simple, free, online access to historical maps of Toronto

One of Many


I’m excited to inform you about Historical Maps of Toronto, an online collection of notable pre-1900 maps of our fair city, easily accessible via the web.

I hope the site will facilitate discovery and exploration, as well as be a convenient resource for casual research. These maps connect us to the city as it used to be, providing remarkable glimpses into our shared history and heritage.

Highlights include: the 1858 Boulton Atlas of the City of Toronto (including a key map), the 1851 Fleming Topographical Plan of the City of Toronto, and the oft-overlooked 1834 Alpheus Todd Plan of the City of Toronto.

I have assembled the collection to serve as a companion site to my previous historical Toronto mapping project, *Goad’s Atlas of Toronto — Online!* (goadstoronto.blogspot.com).

Please share this with anyone who would enjoy it or find it useful as a resource.

kind regards,

Nathan Ng

Click here for link

[End of text from Nathan Ng]

[Click on link above to access the map resource.]


I look forward to trying out the above-noted resource when time permits. I’m slowly getting prepared to enter into the realm of archival research. I’ve managed to stay away from archives for many decades.

A formative experience in that regard was what I learned working as a ghostwriter over a period of several months, somewhere between 1975 and 1980, for a Toronto Sun columnist. The columnist taught me a few things about writing.

What she told me, when I began writing columns for her, was that if I spend a couple of hours researching a topic at the local library – this was in  the pre-Internet days – then the prose will lie dead on the page and nobody will read it.

Instead, she said, my task was to go out an interview people who were experts in their field. After that, my task was to get the points across using the cadences and turns of phrase of the experts that I interviewed. In that way, my text will be lively and people will read it.

I still like to do interviews, and until recently I’ve depended on experienced archivists for most of the data that I work with in reporting about local history.

Archival research

However, there’s always a time to make a switch in one’s way of getting things done, and I’m looking forward to getting started with archival research. It’s especially easy now to get started, given that so many archival resources are available online.

The Toronto Sun columnist that I worked for also taught me something about the opening paragraph for a column. She said that the purpose of the opening sentence was to stop people in their tracks. For that reason, she said, it didn’t have to have a relationship with the rest of the article. That’s a bit of advice that I haven’t followed very much in recent years, but it remains a good principle – especially if you’re writing for a tabloid newspaper.

Cinema Canada

Most of what I learned about freelance writing was from Natalie Edwards (then in Toronto; later she moved to Vancouver) when she was an editor of a now defunct Canadian film magazine called Cinema Canada. Some of the articles I wrote from 1975 to 1980 about the Canadian film business are now in Canadian film archives, including some that can be located online.

I had been writing for publication since high school, and had served as editor at the student newspaper at Simon Fraser University in the late 1960s. Thus I knew how to write, or so I thought, until Natalie Edwards worked with me on the draft of one of my early articles for the magazine.

She taught me how to say in a sentence what was taking me three pages of double-spaced manuscript to say. She taught me that a brief text that flows easily and appears spontaneous, and that everybody stops to read, was often the product of endless writing, rewriting, and copy editing. Much of what little I know about writing I learned from her.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *