Recommended Reading List
2018 Heritage Toronto Awards
Download list
Please login or register to use this feature.

2018 Heritage Toronto Awards

By 49thShelf
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
tagged: toronto
Congratulations to nominees of the 2018 Heritage Toronto Book Awards.
Any Other Way

Any Other Way

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : gay studies

The story of how Toronto came out as one of North America's leading hubs of queer activism and culture. Toronto is home to multiple and thriving queer communities that reflect the dynamism of a global city. Any Other Way is an eclectic and richly illustrated local history that reveals how these individuals and community networks have transformed Toronto from a place of churches and conservative mores into a city that has consistently led the way in queer activism, not just in Canada but internat …

More Info
Don Mills

Don Mills

From Forests and Farms to Forces of Change
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

How Toronto’s own city farms were crowded out

First settled in the early nineteenth century, the area now known as Don Mills retained its rural character until the end of the Second World War. After the war, population growth resulted in pressure to develop the area around Toronto and, in a relatively short time, the landscape of Don Mills was irreparably altered.

 

Today, the farms are all gone, as are almost all of the barns and farmhouses. Fields and forests have been replaced by the industrie …

More Info
Excerpt

Chapter 1: Moatfield Farm

Moatfield is one of the best-known farms in Toronto. The original farmhouse, now a fine restaurant, is still a visible, vibrant part of the community on its prominent site overlooking Don Mills Road. If one is so inclined, it is possible to go in and have a meal, maybe sit where David Duncan sat in the 1870s shortly after he built the house, and marvel at what an incredible farm Moatfield must have been in its day.
David Duncan got a pretty nice wedding gift from his father when David married Anne Laird in 1873. David’s father, William Duncan III, was an incredibly generous man. Born in Dublin in 1801, he travelled to Canada to sell linens from his Irish flax mills. So impressed was he with Upper Canada, that he bought a farm here on only his second trip in 1827. He paid £700 for a 200-acre farm on the north side of Sheppard Avenue West, stretching from Dufferin Street to Keele Street. He also bought farms for his four brothers.
William had nine sons. In fact, he had so many children that he had to build a school and hire a schoolmaster; generous as always, he invited the neighbouring children to attend as well.
David Duncan’s wedding gift from his father was Lot 11-3E, a 200-acre farm on the north side of York Mills Road that William had bought in 1848, stretching from Leslie Street in the west to the current Don Valley Parkway in the east. David didn’t let his father down. His farm, dubbed Moatfield, specialized in dairy cattle. David bred the first Jersey cows in the province and quickly became one of the most respected and prize-winning farmers in all of Ontario.
The farmhouse itself was equally impressive, built with red bricks made from the Don River clay found on the property. The walls were two feet thick. The house had six bedrooms and would eventually feature four bathrooms and the first telephone in the community. The floors were made from white pine, also harvested on-site. The baseboards were eighteen inches high, the doors two inches thick, and all door frames were hand-carved. The exterior of the house featured arched windows accentuated with stone, gables, a large veranda, and a main-floor bay window. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the exterior, however, was the extensive bargeboard, or gingerbread trim. British settlers introduced this elaborate type of trim to Canada in the 1830s. Practical as well as decorative, the trim discouraged birds and protected the house from rain and snow. In its day, this trim was rarely painted white, since darker colours were favoured. The popularity of this type of trim began to wane in the late 1860s, and Moatfield is thought be one of the last examples in the area.
In 1880, David expanded his farm when he bought the southeast quarter of Lot 11-2E, on the northwest corner of York Mills Road and Leslie Street. By 1910, he owned the entire eastern half of this lot and the southeast quarter of Lot 12-2E directly to the north, giving him 150 acres on the northwest corner of Leslie and York Mills, in addition to the original 200-acre Lot 11-3E on the east side of Leslie Street. David gave the property on the west side of Leslie Street to his son Hartley. It would remain productive farmland until the late 1960s as a part of E.P. Taylor’s spectacular Windfields Farm.
David Duncan farmed at Moatfield for over forty years until his death in 1914 at the age of seventy-seven. When David died, his son Gordon, then aged twenty-five, took charge of Moatfield, which continued to be a prize-winning farm until Gordon’s death in 1962. Gordon’s widow, Kate, remained at Moatfield.
By now, the farm was down to sixteen acres surrounding the farmhouse at the corner of York Mills and Don Mills roads, the rest already having been digested by an increasingly hungry city. Don Mills Road was about to be extended north of York Mills Road, all the way up to Sheppard Avenue East. The new roadway would come within 200 feet of the house. Businesses of all sorts now surrounded Moatfield. Anyone who had their car washed at the Don Mills Car Wash, still standing on former Moatfield land and itself a survivor of a different age, was right next door to Kate. Only a row of pine trees, still standing at the time of this writing, separated the car wash from the farmhouse. Kate seemed to take most of the changes in stride. “We don’t notice too much change in our way of life since people have settled all around us,” she told Val Grimshaw of the Don Mills Mirror in February 1962 before Gordon’s death. “I have no objection to progress and development in an area,” Mrs. Duncan said. “I only wish planners would leave some of the landmarks around instead of trying to bury everything quickly before anyone misses it. Much of our early heritage in this area, I’m afraid, is under smooth, sodded lawns.”
When Kate Duncan died in 1972, she willed the remainder of Moatfield to North York, hoping the farm could somehow be preserved and feeling this was her best chance to do so. Though there was brief talk of a heritage park being created on the property, the voracity of the status quo soon prevailed and the remains of Moatfield were sold to developers who wanted to build a huge, modern hotel. As the Hunter farms directly to the north were already sprouting a new crop of office buildings and the rest of Moatfield had already been developed, approval for this latest plan met little opposition. The only condition the borough insisted on was that the Moatfield farmhouse could not be demolished.
So the Prince Hotel was built. The well heeled came to stay and dance and dine, to swim and laugh and be pampered at the spa, while out on York Mills Road, Moatfield sat for the next fourteen years abandoned, ignored, and deteriorating. It seemed destined to end up as just another victim of demolition by neglect. Numerous plans for the home’s salvation were considered and rejected.
Help finally arrived in 1986 when brothers George, Bill, and Peter Tzioumis moved Moatfield around the corner on a flatbed truck. There, on its original lot, but facing Don Mills Road instead of York Mills Road, Moatfield was painstakingly restored at a cost exceeding three million dollars and reborn as a fine dining establishment called The David Duncan House. Peter Tzioumis said it all when he was interviewed by Lynne Ainsworth of the Toronto Star in September 1988: “I come from a country with a lot of history and this is what makes Greece,” he said. “Whatever we’ve got left here in Canada we must save.”2 The Tzioumis brothers worked with the North York Historical Board to make sure that the restoration was as accurate as possible. The results are spectacular, with custom-made wallpaper, carpets, and furniture nestling up against meticulously restored plaster and hand-carved woodwork. All in all, a much happier ending than anyone had dared to hope for, and well worth a visit.

close this panel
Frontier City

Frontier City

Toronto on the Verge of Greatness
edition:Hardcover

Toronto is emerging from an identity crisis into a glorious new era.
It began as a series of reports from the civic drama of the 2014 elections. But beyond the municipal circus, writer and commentator Shawn Micallef discovered the much bigger story of a city emerging into greatness. He walked and talked with candidates from all over Greater Toronto, and observed how they energized their communities, never shying away from the problems that exist within them -- poverty, violence, racism, and dru …

More Info
The Great Gould

The Great Gould

edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover

A startling new portrait of Gould, including never-before-seen material.

Glenn Gould’s astonishing recordings deliver that unmistakable jolt of genius to each generation newly discovering the great Canadian pianist. With the support of the Glenn Gould Estate, Peter Goddard draws on his own interviews with Gould and on new, and in some cases overlooked, sources to present a freshly revealing portrait of Gould’s unsettled life, his radical decision to quit concertizing, his career as a radio in …

More Info
Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE: THE ENIGMA’S VARIATIONS

I often wonder about what people new to Glenn Gould, or those who only know his name, think when they come upon the life-size sculpture of the pianist outside the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in Toronto for the first time. Perhaps they wonder what exactly the artist is saying about him as they observe how the afternoon light on the folds of the surface make Gould’s clothing look as sleek as silk. This part of the city is about crowds and conventions and baseball fans and fun and chain restaurants. It’s not designed for thoughtfulness. Still, it’s possible. Me, I can imagine the unthinkable stretches of empty space beyond this point as I hear the trains heading east and west; once that was about all that brought anyone down to this part of town — the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways. Those who know about such things know that the CN and CP were Canada’s first radio broadcasters and aired the first music show back in the days when the CBC was still on a drawing board.
I also think about the father of the jazz great Oscar Peterson, who was once a porter on one of those trains running out of Montreal. I remember also the Festival Express, the mobile Canadian Woodstock with car after car jammed with rock stars and wannabes heading out of town, one great collective raggedy-ass party, going west and even deeper into sixties mythology.
Gould and Peterson never played together, although both said they thought about it. But Gould knew about Janis Joplin, who was on the Festival Express. He included her song “Mercedes-Benz” alongside Bach and simple hymns in The Quiet in the Land, his 1977 radio documentary about Mennonite life.
I think of my father, stopping a bit west of here with me, so that I could get out of the car to see a bit of the city before I went on to my piano lesson at the Royal Conservatory of Music, then at the corner of College Street and University Avenue, since moved to Bloor Street.
Canadian sculptor Ruth Abernethy’s Glenn offers up a solid, hand¬some icon that reminds us that the slumped figure was taller in life than is often remembered. The work catches many signature Gould tics: he seems bent into the bench itself just as he melded with his piano stool; his right hand on his cap gives the impression it might fly off at any moment in a gust of Front Street wind; and his expression proclaims a stagey seri¬ousness that might be, maybe, just a little over the top. “Hmm, yes, but, ah, speaking, as well one might, in Schoenbergian terms …”
You can practically hear a professorial Gould muttering on and on pedantically like this as visitor after visitor sits next to the master, deliciously aware that their rendezvous is a camera-ready setup.
Theatre is the key. It’s my theme, in a way. It was Gould’s theme, too. Media awareness: the star knowing where the camera was, where the microphone was. A familiar enough figure on Toronto streets back in the day, Gould could be found performing his own hobo lumpy young/old guy act, padded against the wind as if in a wintry battle scene in a vintage Soviet movie. Walking can be a subversive act, particularly if done with intent. And it certainly was for Gould, private and purposeful all at once. Where’s he going? What’s he thinking? might be questions people asked as he passed. What’s that he’s humming? This memory is now only the property of old-timers, and they’re unlikely to be walking those same streets as often — if they still exist at all, those streets.
Glenn Gould is always in motion in my lasting memories of him, although these images are always in black and white, like the National Film Board newsreels we were shown at school before any of our parents had a TV. Film rolling from the early fifties, when I might see him charging through the halls of the old Royal Conservatory of Music — “the Con,” as my father, a teacher there, called it. He was hugely famous just about everywhere in the world already, but not here, not really, as the rest of us struggled away with our iffy talents in cold practice rooms. I remember seeing him in the Con’s tiny cafeteria arguing away with someone, people coming up and talking to him. It’s still black and white in my memory from almost twenty years later, in the early 1970s, when I’d find myself crossing Glenn Gould’s path late in the afternoon around the old CBC building on Jarvis Street, where I worked for some years. In these memories, and in retelling them, I can’t simply say “Gould” — it’s too detached from the way one felt about him — but certainly not “Glenn” as in “Hey, Glenn.” It had to be Glenn Gould.
We met a few times — he remembered I’d interviewed him on more than one occasion — and we’d stop on the street or in a hall and talk for a bit about what he was doing. One really late night at the CBC he appeared at the door of the second- or third-floor editing room I was using, startling me — “Like a ghost,” I told him.
I bet he liked that. The setting was right. The top-floor rooms in the old CBC building — offices, edit suites, storage, whatever else was there — had the murk and crannies found in attics in horror flicks. This added a little extra frisson for those lovers creeping upstairs for a late-night boff.
“And what are you working on?” he asked, moving close enough to peer over my shoulder. I don’t remember now — probably a segment of a breezy morning show, The Scene, he himself would contribute to.
I flattened a length of tape against the tiny metal block, cutting it at an angle with my razor blade, in the narrow slot provided. After another cut in different place on the tape, I brought the two pieces together.
“You realize, of course, that process will be taken over by a machine,” Gould said, straightening up.
“Probably,” I said. “But it won’t be as much fun.”
Tape splicing — replaced now by the digital edit suite, the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and other goodies — had its own set of quirky tools, including a marker of some sort to indicate where to splice a tape as well as a razor blade held in a special metal clamp to do the splicing, plus tape to piece the parts together. Veteran editors with eyes as sharp as diamond cleavers could fuse together two halves of the identical note recorded at different times with one of their fine tape splices. Gould’s editing prowess was a legend around the CBC. Indeed, as the years went on he seemed far more interested in extolling some frightfully complex bit of tape splicing he’d finished than his latest recording. A listener asked by Gould to guess the number of edits or splices in a finished documentary would inevitably guess far fewer splices than were there.
I now realize that Gould probably did little actual cutting on his own, especially after Columbia producer Andrew Kazdin’s revelations years later that he did the actual editing when recording with Gould, with Gould hovering around in an advisory capacity.
With me, though, Gould seemed stalled on the word fun.
“Less fun maybe,” he said, “but a logical step, a very human step, too — the step toward perfection — if you think of it.”
We talked a bit more and then he drifted away, leaving me to whiz strips of magnetic tape backward and forward, searching for the right spot to splice.

close this panel
The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

A Complete History
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

A complete history of Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern, “the Birthplace of Canadian Rock,” to coincide with its seventieth anniversary.

Like the Queen Street strip that has been its home for seven decades, the Horseshoe Tavern continues to evolve. It remains as relevant today as it did when Jack Starr founded the country music club on the site of a former blacksmith shop. From country and rockabilly to rock ‘n’ roll, punk, alt/country, and back to roots music, the venerable liv …

More Info
Excerpt

Since 1947, except for a few blips and lean years best forgotten, the Horseshoe Tavern has stood guard just around the corner from Queen and Spadina. While other North American landmarks such as New York’s CBGB and the Bottom Line now exist only as commemorative plaques and music memories in people’s minds, the Horseshoe has somehow survived for more than seventy years. The more the landscape changes around 370 Queen Street West, the more the tavern remains the same. From the sidewalk, the facade is nondescript; it’s no architectural marvel. Inside, the dirty old lady is cramped, cozy and rough around the edges. For music lovers, though, the building, more affectionately known as the ’Shoe, is a shrine. It’s a place of firsts: One of the first places in Toronto where you could order liquor. One of the first places you could hear live music. And, one of the first bars to have a TV set. For the long-time staff members who have called the bar home — some for almost three decades — the timeless tavern means family. For many, bonds that became marriages — musical and otherwise — were first formed here. Their memories, along with the list of bands that have played the ’Shoe, are what make the venue so legendary. While some may call it a dive, it’s a beautiful dive.
Take a journey with me now. Dive into this icon’s past. Begin with a stroll through the ’Shoe’s front bar. Stop to peruse the posters, framed autographed photographs, newspaper clippings, and scrawled set lists that line the walls across from the pool table, where most nights you’ll find the regulars, who show little interest in the live music coming from the back bar as they shoot a game of stripes and solids. These artifacts tell only some of the stories from the past twenty-five years. Unfortunately, much of the memorabilia from the first half-century of the tavern’s existence were either lost or destroyed during the early 1980s. Only a few fragments from those early days remain, such as the huge movie poster advertising the 1963 musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie, plastered to the ceiling and peeling away but, like the venue itself, still hanging on near the stage in the back bar. Fortunately, thanks to newspaper reports and memories of those still around to recount their time spent there, there was much research to draw upon for this labour-of-love project.
The Horseshoe is a beacon for music lovers, a pilgrimage destination for those who understand its significance as part of Toronto’s rich musical history. One word sums up why it has survived: passion. Almost all the owners shared this passion — for the music and for the patrons. As original owner Jack Starr once told Toronto Star writer John Goddard, “It was family. I don’t mean we had kids there. I mean everyone seemed to know everyone.” More important, from the moment Starr booked music in his home away from home in the downtown core, he cared for — and showed congeniality toward — the musicians he booked. They, too, were like family. There are stories of Starr packing picnic lunches for Loretta Lynn and her band to take as they boarded their tour bus. Another famed story you can read about in more detail later in this book is about how Starr’s offer to give Stompin’ Tom Connors a raise made the late, great Canadian country outlaw cry.
Over the years, thanks to the ’Shoe and its owners, hundreds of Canadian bands have had their starts or have been helped to take that needed step to the next level in their careers. The list is endless: from Dick Nolan and other rising Canadian country stars in the 1960s to Stompin’ Tom Connors in the 1970s, to Blue Rodeo in the 1980s, to Nickelback, Rheostatics, Skydiggers, the Lowest of the Low, and the Watchmen in the 1990s. As most Canadian musicians attest, you’d “arrived” if you played the Horseshoe Tavern. Starr began this bequest to the Canadian music industry in the 1950s; today, current majority owner and music aficionado Jeff Cohen, along with his partner Craig Laskey, continue this tradition for the next generation of rising Canadian stars.
That same passion is what led me to write this book. For me, music is the elixir of life. A jolt of live music is always the best medicine when I’m feeling low. The thousands of ticket stubs I’ve saved over the years — and the lack of funds in my bank account — attest to my love of attending concerts. I came to the Horseshoe Tavern later than most. Like all the musicians I interviewed for this project, I felt its soul, its historical significance, and its pull from the first time I walked through those doors. A spirit lives there. The musicians feel it. So do the regulars. Even first-timers catch a whiff of these ghosts.
I watched my first show, the Old 97’s, in this cavernous, low-ceilinged room more than twenty years ago. Immediately I was hooked. Later, I recall seeing a young Serena Ryder summon the ghost of Etta James — who also once graced that storied stage — with an a cappella version of “At Last” that left the room stunned. I once drank Jack Daniel’s from the bottle with the Drive-By Truckers in their dressing room, and did tequila shots on the checkerboard dance floor with singer Jesse Malin following his set on a night the place was packed, fuelled by rumours The Boss was going to join the ex–D Generation singer. People often say about the ’Shoe, “If only these walls could talk.” Yes, the stories they would tell. Crazy shit happened inside the dimly lit, blue-collar tavern over the years. I share a few of those tales in these pages, but what this story is really about is a place, a Toronto institution seven decades young that has acquired a personality and mythology all its own. It’s part of the social fabric and the history of the city. While much of the Queen Street West strip surrounding the ’Shoe has changed and undergone gentrification, transformed from a desolate street surrounded by factories to a yuppie hangout with high-end fashion stores, the Horseshoe and its raison d’être has remained relatively intact.
Even though the Horseshoe Tavern has always been isolated musically and socially from its surroundings, this venue remains a cultural icon in the Canadian music landscape.
This project combines my love of music with my love of history. Through first-person interviews with musicians who have played the venue to extensive secondary source research, I’ve dug deep to unearth what has led to the bar’s longevity and to discover what makes the ’Shoe so legendary. I hope I’ve succeeded in bottling this passion and distilling it for your enjoyment.
Come with me now, dear reader, on this journey. Find out why this dame has survived when so many others, like the Beverley Tavern, the Ultrasound, the BamBoo, and the Silver Dollar Room, have come and gone.
Here’s to another seventy years of the Horseshoe Tavern. I hope one day my grandkids will walk through those fabled doors at 370 Queen Street West as I once did to hear the latest band on the rise, share a moment in time with fellow music lovers, and discover the ghosts and the soul of the place that are forever etched into the tavern’s walls.

close this panel
Lightfoot

Lightfoot

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

Shortlisted for the 2017 Legislative Assembly of Ontario Speaker's Book Award
Nominated for the 2018 Heritage Toronto Award - Historical Writing: Book
The definitive, full-access story of the life and songs of Canada's legendary troubadour

Gordon Lightfoot’s name is synonymous with timeless songs about trains and shipwrecks, rivers and highways, lovers and loneliness. His music defined the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and ‘70s, topped charts and sold millions. He is unquestionably Canada’s g …

More Info
Making a Global City

Making a Global City

How One Toronto School Embraced Diversity
edition:Hardcover
tagged : canadian, history

Half of Toronto’s population is born outside of Canada and over 140 languages are spoken on the city's streets and in its homes. How to build community amidst such diversity is one of the global challenges that Canada – and many other western nations – has to face head on.

 

Making a Global City critically examines the themes of diversity and community in a single primary school, the Clinton Street Public School in Toronto, between 1920 and 1990. From the swift and seismic shift from a Jewis …

More Info
The Many Rooms of this House

The Many Rooms of this House

Diversity in Toronto's Places of Worship Since 1840
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : history, urban

Places of worship are the true building blocks of communities where people of various genders, age, and class interact with each other on a regular basis. These places are also rallying points for immigrants, helping them make the transition to a new, and often hostile environment.

 

The Many Rooms of this House is a story about the rise and decline of religion in Toronto over the past 160 years. Unlike other studies that concentrate on specific denominations, or ecclesiastical politics, Roberto P …

More Info
comments powered by Disqus

There are two ways to make a reading list

This way:

  1. Click the "Create a New List" button just above this panel.
  2. Add as many books as you wish using the built-in search on the list edit page.

Or that way:

  1. Go to any book page.
  2. In the right-hand column, click on "Add to List." A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. From the drop-down menu, either add your book to a list you have already created or create a new list.
  4. View and edit your lists anytime on your profile page.
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...