What site visitors have taught me about the Preserved Stories website

I set up this website in 2011 with help from Walden Small Business Marketing and Maestra Web Design.

I set up the site because I wanted to talk about land use decision making in Long Branch, Toronto, where I was living at the time.

I currently do not deal much with land use issues. However, I often stop to think about things I have learned about land use as a concept. Many conceptual frameworks – involving public relations, power dynamics, and the like – are at play when decisions regarding land use are made. I am pleased that in years past, I learned a few things that help me to organize my thinking about these things even these many years later.

Most visited blog posts, during a week in late November 2023

Below is a recent list of the sixteen most widely read posts at this website. Please note this is a snapshot of the most widely read posts, at a given point in time. The list changes regularly – although some items tend to remain on the list from year to year.

The list changes over time but some items – such as about an early 1900s abandoned house in Milton – tend to remain among the most widely read posts. I check Google Analytics every once in a while to gauge what site visitors find of particular interest. Over the years, I’ve been surprised from time to time, to see what people like to read.

For each post in the list which follows below, I’ve indicated the year in which it was posted.

1. Abandoned house at Trafalgar Road and Derry Road (2019)

Boarded-up early 1900s house at Trafalgar Road and Derry Road retains echoes of bygone days

Boarded-up house at Trafalgar Road and Derry Road. Jaan Pill photo

I don’t know what kind of shape the Derry Road house is in these days. I stopped at this building in 2019 and wrote a post about it.

Were I living in Milton, I might be working with fellow residents to see if we could preserve the house.

When I became involved with an effort starting in 2010 to save a school building in Long Branch, Toronto, that appeared destined for demolition, I had no idea what the result would be. I worked with a large number of people to create the text for a letter. I spent days on end walking up and down streets in Long Branch delivering information packages from door to door. That was just one part of the story.

The story turned out well. While on vacation after many months of working on a letter writing project with fellow residents, I got a phone call which began a chain of events leading to a much desired outcome.

At that stage in my life, I had accumulated many years of experience, as a volunteer, in community organizing – in contexts, however, far removed from land use decision making. One day, I found out the school was going to be sold; fortunately, a large number of people worked together to save the school – and the property on which it was located. I’m really pleased the story turned out well.

If you have information (based on reliable, verifiable sources) about the current situation of the Derry Road house, please let me know. You can leave a Comment (below) or use the Contact Us page.

2. Ville St-Laurent, Quebec wartime housing (2017)

Ville St-Laurent, Quebec: Wartime housing and architectural change, 1942-92: Article by Annmarie Adams & Pieter Sijpkes (1994)

3. We’re pleased to share with you these cottage cottage photos (2012)

We’re pleased to share with you these 1920s to 1940s ‘cottage country’ images from Etobicoke Creek

4. Stay Awhile daughter makes documentary (2014)

Stay Awhile: daughter makes doc about family band The Bells – Toronto Star, Nov. 26, 2014

5. Erving Goffman analyzes total institutions (2012)

In Asylums (1961) Goffman analyzes the inner workings of total institutions

6. A fence has been built upon a shared driveway in Scarborough (2018)

How to respond, when a neighbour builds a fence upon a registered right of way?

7. Article by Elizabeth Dauphinee which appears in Best Canadian Essays 2021 (2022)

“The Medium of the Archive” is an article by Elizabeth Dauphinee which appears in Best Canadian Essays (2021); it’s a great article about the writing of history

8. History of Long Branch, Toronto (2016)

History of Long Branch

The post was based on my ongoing research about the local history of the neighbourhood where I used to live. My task was to tell a story while staying strictly within a limited word count.

9. Toronto’s 1950s emergency housing (2017)

Toronto’s 1950s emergency housing: An informative, comprehensive overview by Kevin Brushett (2007)

10. Across from the Sun Life Building in Montreal stands an early 1900s Boer War monument (2023)

Across from the Sun Life Building in Montreal stands a an early 1900s Boer War monument commemorating several British empire ‘war stories’ (2023)

11. Comment from Joyce, long-term Stratford resident (2021)

There are a lot of things in Stratford that have changed and a lot of them probably needed to be changed, but the 380-396 Ontario Street proposal is not one of them

12. The city of Berlin was renamed Kitchener (2023)

The city of Berlin, Ontario was renamed Kitchener in 1916; in 2020 the debate about changing the name once again was being revisited

13. Right of way easement legislation in Ontario (2016)

Right of way and easement legislation in Ontario

14. The Big Sleep (2014)

The Big Sleep (1946) demonstrates the effective application of screen direction, sound, lighting, and editing

15. The old Bois Franc (2014)

Graeme Decarie has a question about the old Bois Franc. Do you know the answer?

16. Stories about the fabled Eastwood Hotel in Long Branch (2018)

Tales of drinking and brawling at Eastwood Hotel remind me of Norse mythology

Eastwood Hotel, 2008. Jaan Pill photo

Demolition of Eastwood Hotel, Long Branch, 2008. Jaan Pill photo

What site visitors have taught me

I’ve learned that some posts from years back continue to be read, because they cover topics people have an interest in finding out about.

There is much that I can learn, in turn, from what site visitors are saying by their choice of posts to read. What is it that attracts some posts more than others?

A post from  2012 – about how Erving Goffman began his studies at the University of Chicago – is an example of a form of condensed writing that seems to work well, from the vantage point of site visitors. In this case, the topic is of interest and the text is structured in a way that appears to work well for readers. The post has over the past dozen years been read by many people.

It requires concentrated effort to write such a post. Years ago, I sat down and worked really hard to get the post into place. Erving Goffman’s observations about what goes on in everyday life has interested me ever since I first read one of his studies. I read widely over a long period of time, before I wrote the post.

This is a post that has worked out really well. It provides for me a road map of how to write a really good post. The challenge is that a tremendous amount of time and effort is involved, in the writing of such a post. It’s something I can do, as a blogger, only once in a while.

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