Heritage Award for Kensington Market: Hidden Histories Students!

Student researchers for Kensington Market: Hidden Histories augmented reality app recognized with Lieutenant Governer’s Youth Achievement Ontario Heritage Award

Canadian Studies students received a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement, presented by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (second from right) and Harvey McCue, Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust (far right).(Ian Crysler, courtesy of the Ontario Heritage Trust)

My UoT students received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement from the Ontario Heritage Trust 2017!

I was absolutely delighted & honoured to attend the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award Ceremony at Queen’s Park, Feb. 23, 2017, where students from my Canadian Studies course were given the award by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Heritage Trust chair Harvey McCue.

The story was featured on the UoT Faculty of Arts & Science homepage. A few excerpts from Sean Bettam’s article:

“The Kensington Market: Hidden Histories app, which guides users through a dynamic tour of 12 locations in Toronto’s historic Kensington Market and brings to life the layers of stories embedded in the area, was made possible by students in University College’s Digital Tools in a Canadian Context course. A companion online interactive map archives histories of a total of 32 locations.”

“Receiving this award felt like it wasn’t just recognizing us students, but also the sites and locations in Kensington Market featured in our project,” said fourth-year student Arabhi Ratnajothy. “It is a reminder that so much of this city was built by immigrants who engrained themselves and their stories into the paths walked by today’s generations. We move towards the future by remembering the past.”

“Being selected for this award is such a terrific boost and affirmation for each of the students,” said course instructor Siobhan O’Flynn. “Having the opportunity to work on a project, be engaged in original research and contribute to the safeguarding of our city’s intangible cultural heritage as undergraduates is remarkable.”

“Throughout my years in the Canadian Studies program, I was always impressed by the fascinating research projects we were able to take part in with some amazing professors,” said recent graduate Nicole Paroyan. “I am so glad that a project spearheaded by Professor O’Flynn was recognized this way. None of this would have been possible without her.”

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Kensington Market & Heritage Designation featured in CBC post & I’m interviewed!

The CBC has a great feature on new developments as to the Kensington Market Heritage Designation. In a really surprising show of unanimity, Toronto City Council voted 39-1 for a by-law halting demolition on ‘some’ commercial and mixed-use buildings in Kensington Market for one year. In spring 2016, the City commissioned a three year study, The Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District (HCD). From published reports to date, the goal is to develop a policy framework that can safeguard the neighbourhood’s important cultural heritage given the push to replace old low rise buildings with new mid- and high-rise condos.

Councillor JoeCressy, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina, who brought the motion forward, is quoted: “So we’ve put in place the one year demolition freeze, which gives us that protection as we finalize and implement new heritage policies”

Local historian and long-time resident, Bruce Beaton, is also quoted:

“We’re not against change. That certainly is important to say,” Beaton said.

“People who live here realize historically that the place has always been changing,” says Beaton. “But a large scale change that might happen, say a large condo development, would change the environment here.”

And, I’m in here too!

Featured on UoT FAS Homepage! Kensington Market: Hidden Histories

Great feature story by Peter Boisseau, on the main UoT page!

Excerpt: “An augmented reality app that guides users through a dynamic tour of key locations in Toronto’s historic Kensington Market is now available for free download – thanks to U of T students in the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Students enrolled in University College’s ‘Digital Tools in a Canadian Context’ course used original research and archival documents to unearth generations of Kensington Market’s vibrant legacy and transform it into an interactive database.

“Kensington Market is a microcosm of factors that have contributed to Toronto’s richness as one of the world’s most multicultural city, and reveals how Canada has changed over time,” says course instructor Siobhan O’Flynn, a lecturer in Canadian studies.

This is the latest example of how U of T students and researchers are taking the classroom to the city – and in particular to Kensington Market – to learn more about Toronto’s vibrant culture. The neighbourhood has also served as a way to introduce international students to the city….”

Kensington Market: Hidden Histories on MetroMorning with Nicole Paroyan

Our student, Nicole Paroyan, had a terrific exchange with Matt Galloway on CBC’s MetroMorning this am! It’s been an honour & a pleasure to work with Nicole & our other stellar students on this project!

Audio clip here!

Kensington Market: Hidden Histories is available for download on iTunes!

Search Kensington Hidden Histories! (oh Apple we have too many characters!)

And in the Google Play as Kensington Market: Hidden Histories.

Download & enjoy walking through Kensington Market discovering layers of lives lived, communities that flourished and moved on, some leaving traces. Others now vanished.. We barely scratched the surface!

Kensington Urban Archaeology

Kensington Market has a rich history of immigrant communities settling in Toronto and then moving on. This project for  CDN355 Digital Tools in a Canadian Context (Canadian Studies, UToronto) will look at 10 physical sites in the market, buildings and lots, and will map layered traces of past residents and businesses over centuries.

Students in CDN 355 will be introduced to digital research tools, coding, and quantitative analysis and we will extend our critical activities in these new modes of digital scholarship designing a unique archive. Students will have the opportunity to do original research to develop the content for our interactive map, working through the design decisions as to how to organize, analyze, and display our findings. Material we will work with will range from the first allotment maps and census data to early business records and resident histories, religious centres, family connections, and political intersections.

Students will work collaboratively to create an interactive map that will geolocate archival material, images, news items, census data, and personal interviews, building on a ‘web map app’ that simplifies working with the ArcGIS mapping software.

Our goal will be to contribute to the archival knowledge of a vibrant corner of Toronto’s history and to share our findings on a public accessible website that can credit the work of all students involved.

See ‘About’ for more information about the course.

The Changing Market

We all know Kensington Market is changing at an increasingly rapid rate with development attempts at gentrification, condos, and the introduction of chain stores. Local residents, businesses and property owners have complicated relationships and behind the complications of our present lie an extraordinary history that will vanish quickly unless we document it.

Archiving History

My earliest memories of Baldwin St. go back to the late 1960s – early 1970s. I distinctly remember the butcher shops with stacks of cages of live chickens, ducks, and other fowl, goats’ heads & carcasses in windows, and the always pungent smell at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Today, Baldwin is a mosaic of layered traces of the old Kensington (Tom’s Place & the dry beans & fruit shops, the older fish stores), a few remaining indie music bars that intersect with the 40 year old punk scene centered on the legendary BOFGs, and the explosion of hipster shops from the butcher, bbq, artisanal breads, high end coffee and kombucha.

How many of us know the rich history of the market? the stories? the residents? The ground we walk on in any city is dense with personal and political histories. Let’s capture and preserve some of that history.

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