Highly valuable local history project has been initiated by Ward 6 Councillor Mark Grimes

On Nov. 2, 2017 I attended a highly valuable local history project that has been initiated by Ward 6 Councillor Mark Grimes.

The event was held at The Assembly Hall in line with a purpose outlined at two recent posts:

Ward 6 Historical Night – Nov. 2 at 7:00 pm at The Assembly Hall

Looking Back on the Lake Shore: Presentations on preservation of local history resources: Thurs., Nov. 2, 2017, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. at The Assembly Hall

The Bottom Line

The first bottom line is that there was a huge turnout for this event. Local history is of interest to many people!

The second important Bottom Line of this event is that if you have photos from the past, that you wish to have preserved, in the decades and centuries ahead, Councillor Grimes invites you to lend the photos to the Ward 6 Office; they will be scanned and returned to you. Please include as much caption-related information as possible, to ensure that people know what each photo is about.

A note in passing: If you are uncertain about the date a photo was taken, or about the date that an event occurred, please say you are uncertain or else please verify the date. I’m reminded of a series of photos of the Colonel Samuel Smith house, in the archives at Montgomery’s Inn. The captions say the house was torn down in 1952.

The correct date is 1955 as corroborated through newspaper articles published in 1955. Similarly, there’s a book about local history, at the Toronto Public Library (including at the Long Branch Library) that incorrectly asserts that the fire that destroyed the Long Branch Hotel occurred in 1954. The correct date is 1958, as verified by several sources including eyewitness accounts.

Given my strong interest in evidence-based practice in all areas of communications (and with regard to the events of everyday life), including blogging and media relations, I have discussed these points at previous posts including one about the history of Long Branch.

Occasionally I come across City of Toronto staff reports related to heritage buildings and the early history of neighbourhoods, where some of the dates are inaccurate.  I think in some cases, the inaccuracy stems from the fact the reports are based on materials available at local libraries or similar resources; in some cases, what’s available at local libraries repeats inaccurate information gathered many years ago. With repetition over the years, inaccurate information in some cases comes to be treated as fact. The situation is analogous, perhaps, to the processes of institutional drift in land-use decision-making that have been evident, according to many observers, in Ontario over the past 25 years.

What I am saying is: Please do what you can to ensure that the information that is shared, about local history, is accurate.

Otherwise we are just contributing to the proliferation of urban legends that have no connection with factual actuality.

I would add (these being my own additional comments) that if you have home movies and/or audio recordings from decades past, that would be of interest to archivists studying the Lakeshore (or Lake Shore) in the decades and centuries ahead, it would be great if you can share these with the Councillor’s Office also. Home movies and cassette or reel-to-reel audio recordings can be readily digitized. That said, the original physical films and tapes are also, in some cases, good candidates for archival collections as well.

It may be the case (I speak as a layperson) that archival materials involving printouts (of texts and photos) on acid-free paper may have greater longevity, than archival materials that are based upon digital infrastructures that, over time, can become inaccessible to future researchers.

The Agenda

I am on the way out the door to have a workout. I much prefer physical activity such as walking in local neighbourhoods, or working out at the Humber Fitness Centre, as compared to sitting or standing at my laptop (I have added an addition to my desk, so that I can also work at my laptop standing up). However, I’m aware that there is indeed value in writing a blog post now and then.

So, for this post I will refer to how the event was set up. First, Councillor Grimes briefly introduced the event. Various speakers (from the list below) spoke. Museum and Heritage Services, in the framework of the MomenTO Pop-Up Museums (see below) recorded the event, using impressive, professional quality video and sound equipment.

I don’t recall if there was a speaker from the City of Toronto Archives. I will have to check my audio recording of the event to determine whether or not an archivist from the City of Toronto spoke at the event. The framework (and logistics) within which archives are stored, disseminated, and made available for researchers at the City of Toronto, and with particular regard to Long Branch, Alderwood, New Toronto, Mimico, Humber Bay Shores, and Central and Northern Etobicoke is a topic of intense interest for at least a handful of us.

If you wish to get good, reliable information on the latter topic, an excellent and highly reliable source is Denise Harris at the Etobicoke Historical Society.

As part of the event, Councillor Grimes shared a quick PowerPoint presentation, with a good number of interesting slides about local history, occasionally referring to his own connections to buildings and events of decades ago. If I get around to it, I will post some material from his talk. I was impressed with the Councillor’s presentation. It was brief, well-researched, and it covered a lot of ground.

I have the sense that a lot of work and dedication went into the preparation, on the part of the Councillor’s Office, of his presentation.

To my mind, such a brief presentation – and the brief presentations by speakers from the list below – represents an impressive, heart-warming, and inspiring way to celebrate local history.

Click on image below to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further


Handout from "Looking Back on the Lake Shore" event organized by Councillor Mark Grimes, Nov. 2, 2017

Handout from “Looking Back on the Lake Shore” event organized by Councillor Mark Grimes, Nov. 2, 2017

1 reply
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    An excerpt from a Nov. 3, 2017 e-News email from Councillor Grimes’s Office reads:

    November 3, 2017

    View this email in your browser

    Dear Neighbour,

    It feels like fall is finally here. Don’t forget – this weekend clocks go back an hour on Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time.

    Ward 6 Historical Night

    Last night, more than 150 residents came out to The Assembly Hall to celebrate the history of our community. I had a chance to speak with many of you, and several residents even brought out historical artifacts and photos to share and contribute to the City’s Archives. I could not have been more pleased to see both long-time and new residents joining together to learn, share and celebrate the Lake Shore.

    I want to also send out a special thank you to the participating organizations:

    Toronto Historical Association
    Ontario Genealogical Society – Toronto Branch
    Etobicoke Historical Society
    Museum and Heritage Services (MomenTO Pop-Up Museum)
    New Toronto Historical Society
    City of Toronto Archives
    Alderwood Historical Society
    Roaming Storytellers
    Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre
    The Assembly Hall

    Their engaging presentations and involvement helped make the evening a huge success, and I look forward to hosting more historical celebrations in the future!

    If you were unable to attend last night’s event, but have items or photos you would like preserved for archival, please do not hesitate to get in touch at councillor_grimes@toronto or 416-397-9273.


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