Three community events explore the city’s cultural and historical diversity

As part of the annual Myseum of Toronto’s Intersections Festival, the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections (CTASC) of York University Libraries and its community partners invite you to a film night, an interactive exhibition, and a walking tour to explore the city’s cultural and historical diversity.

These three event share York University research and archival material with the community at large thanks to the work of York archivists Anna St. Onge and Katrina Cohen-Palacios, York History professor Sakis Gekas (GCHP), York History PhD graduates Jay Young (Archives of Ontario) and Christopher Grafos (GCHP), York AMPD Masters graduate Ananya Ohri (Regent Park Film Festival), and York History PhD Candidate Michael Akladios (CCHP).

Motion Pictures: Immigration Films from the Vaults of Toronto’s Archives

On Thursday, March 8, from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Palmerston Toronto Public Library Theatre, Motion Pictures: Immigration Films from the Vaults of Toronto’s Archives will demonstrate the role of moving images within the creation and dissemination of stories of immigration, and the integral role of Toronto-area archives in the preservation of such films.

CTASC and the Archives of Ontario will screen archival film footage that explores how the medium of film contributes towards – and sometimes questions – narratives of immigration and multiculturalism, and the importance of archives as repositories for key records of the immigrant past.

At the event, the Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF) will present their innovative project Home Made Visible which aims to address an important gap in the preservation and celebration of the home movie footage of Indigenous and Visible Minority Canadians. CTASC is the RPFF’s archival partner in this project.

RSVP on the Facebook event page.

The Journeys of the Copts and their Artifacts

From March 12 to 24, St Mark’s Coptic Museum and the Coptic Canadian History Project (CCHP) will present the Journeys of the Copts and their Artifacts, showcasing the culture, immigration, and achievements of Egypt’s Coptic Christian diaspora in Toronto and Canada through three initiatives in public programming.

A multimedia talk on March 12, 22 (6:30pm) and 24 (3pm) will explore the topic of “St. Mark’s Parish: Copts’ Journey Through Toronto’s Places of Worship, 1962-1978.” Secondly, a new exhibition will share the museum’s history and milestones alongside the stories, challenges, and achievements of 33 Coptic professionals. While displaying the museum’s first artefacts and memorabilia, the museum will also launch a historic series of contemporary narrative icons by iconographer Victor Asaad Fakhoury, which masterfully chronicle events that have affected the Coptic Church and Copts in Egypt since the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011.

RSVP to take the free shuttle bus to the event.

Gateway to Greektown: A Historical Walking Tour of the Danforth

Image of intersection of Danforth and Broadview with parked cars, streetcar tracks and store fronts with some signs reading "Restaurant, sodas"; "coca-cola"; "bakery"

York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC03483.

On March 24 and 25 at 10:30am and 2:30pm, Gateway to Greektown: A Historical Walking Tour of the Danforth will be led by the Greek Canadian History Project (GCHP) to illuminate Greek immigrant life and the history of Greektown in previously unexplored ways. The event will take participants to important historical sites that currently escape our collective memory.

Accompanied by materials from CTASC, the tour will highlight political, gender, spiritual, and cultural elements of Greek life on the Danforth from the 1960s to the 1990s, when Danforth was a space where newly-arrived, predominantly semi-rural Greek immigrants intersected with and shaped Toronto’s urban setting.

Tours taking place on March 25 will occur before and after the Greek Independence Day parade, which is an annual commemorative event in Toronto’s Greektown.

RSVP to attend the walking tour.

More information on our partners, please visit the website of the:


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Singing the Toronto Subway Song

Compliation of sheet music with the cover image of subway construction on top with the title "the toronto subway song" and the lyrics "in a little while, weèll be riding the new subway"

Mel Hamill composed The Toronto Subway Song in 1950 during the construction of the city’s first subway.

In less than a week, travel to the university will reach rocket speeds with the opening of two subway stations on campus.

While the commute nowadays may be described as rough, try and think back to the opening of Keele Campus in 1965 when the Bloor-Danforth line was still under construction. In fact, back then, the subway climbed no further north than St. George and Eglinton stations!

The commute to York University sure has changed over the years.

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Our Top 5 Responses from #AskAnArchivist Day

Ranging from silly in nature to serious, hundreds of questions descended upon archival professionals during #AskAnArchivist Day on 4 October 2017. By participating through Twitter, our responses went beyond campus boundaries to engage with fellow archivists and the broader community.

Image shows highlights text "# Ask An Archivist Day October 4" with speech bubbles surrounding it asking questions such as "what do archivists do?"

These five tweets were our favourites that helped reach an audience fourteen times the size of our followers with a total of nearly 7,000 impressions!

1. If you could express your work as an archivist in a GIF, what would the GIF be?

Most people think archivists are always alone with the archives, but the reality is that I’ve spent the majority of my time juggling reference requests with arrangement and description. Learn more about what we do in the “Archives Awareness Week: a week in the life of the archives” post. Continue reading

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World Ballet Day : Behind-the-scenes photographs of the National Ballet of Canada

Lawson documented 25 years of CBC production

With World Ballet Day falling on a Thursday, it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight “Throwback Thursday” photographs of the National Ballet of Canada. The fonds of Robert Lawson, a Canadian Broadcasting Company production designer in the 1950s and 1960s, is an invaluable collection of over 11,000 photographs documenting the early days of Canadian arts on television.

Image of a box with the label Robert Lawson surrounded by slides in plastic sheets.

Slides from CBC filming of the National Ballet of Canada’s Giselle in 1975.

His passion for photography and habit of photographing productions led to many candid shots of artists on set. Lawson first designed for variety shows, but attracted particular recognition for his work in opera, ballet, operetta and plays, working closely with Norman Campbell during the heydey of live television performances at the CBC. Continue reading

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Celebrating Jean Augustine, Education, Community & Diaspora

On Sunday, 9 September 2017, Hundreds of guests came to celebrate Augustine’s eight decades of accomplishments (many of which are recorded in her fonds!). During her birthday speech, Jean Augustine shared her pride in preserving her records at York University Libraries.

We could hardly contain our excitement when she listed the full extent of her fonds: 13.4 m of textual records; ca. 16,000 photographs; ca. 10,000 negatives; ca. 60 compact disks; ca. 15 computer disks; ca. 400 paintings and prints; ca. 670 objects : buttons, flags, cups, etc.; 238 videocassettes; and 41 audio cassettes.

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Caribana’s Golden Anniversary: An archival research guide

Image of an opened file folder with three documents, two yellow, on Caribana.

Caribana records from 1984 in the Jean Augustine fonds. 2007-022/005(6)

Fifty years of celebrating Caribbean culture, playing mas, and dancing to the beat of the steel pan are preserved in archival records across Ontario. Over the years, the cultural event has grown from a community’s centenary gift to Canada to North America’s largest cultural event!

As gifting gold is a tradition for fiftieth-anniversaries, our gift to celebrate five decades of festivities is an archival guide on the nuggets of information preserved in Caribana’s documentary evidence. Insights within these records hold a wealth of information that provides an opportunity to interpret and analyse Caribana’s historical, sociopolitical, and cultural narrative. Continue reading

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