It’s Live! CHIME Digital Exhibits Launches

This is the third in a series of guest posts submitted by the members of the CHIME Digital Exhibits group that document the group’s development of a digital exhibit featuring the different histories of the Lakeshore Grounds. (You can read the first post here and the second post here).

After much planning and research, we are proud to announce that CHIME Digital Exhibit is now live! We invite you to visit lakeshoregrounds.ca/chime and explore all of our five pillars! This project has really become a labour of love for our members, and we are so proud to finally be able to lift the curtain on our exhibits and show off all our hard work.

In the theme of reveals, we thought this blog post was a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to you! If you have been following along with the progress of our project you are aware that our name CHIME stands for the five themed pillars; College, Hospital, Indigenous, Movies, and Ecology. Each of our pillars has its own curator, get to know them below!

Teachers’ College – Leila

Leila
Here we can see Leila completing a portion of her extensive research. Notice the historic photos of the area she was able to uncover!

Leila’s research of the Teachers’ College which once called Humber’s A & B buildings home began with a general survey of the history of the College, but quickly evolved into a passion project studying the architecture of the former Teachers’ College. She has been travelling around the city visiting the Archives of Ontario to examine architectural drawings and has even partnered with a local architect to recreate the models of what the Teachers’ College may have looked like during its height of use. When asked about her work Leila said that she “hopes my exhibition helps visitors to become aware and admire the effect of such a modern architecture would have had the cohorts of Canadian educators who were educated here during the 1950s.”

Psychiatric Hospital – Heather

Heather.jpeg
Here we see Heather putting the final touches on her pillar

In January Heather began to delicately and respectfully investigate the history of the Psychiatric Hospital which once called the Etobicoke-Lakeshore area home. Heather closely consulted Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre staff for guidance to ensure her exhibit was both an educational and respectful experience for the viewer. What excites Heather most about her exhibit is that it can be used as walking guide of campus, through this she used the physical changes of the area to show the evolution of treatment of mental illness in Canada which occurred over the 89 years the hospital was operational.

Indigenous – Nadine

Nadine.jpeg
Here we see Nadine carefully editing each page of our exhibit in preparation for the launch

Our fearless leader Nadine has been working tirelessly researching the Indigenous heritage of the Etobicoke Lakeshore and the greater Toronto area. Through her research Nadine explores the many historic trading paths which intersect across the city. Due to the volume and use of these paths many of them have over the course of time become the main roads we still use today! It is Nadine’s hope that this exhibit will educate views about the history of the area as well as encourage a new appreciation for contemporary indigenous culture.

Movies – Maya

Maya
Just this week film crews were spotted by our resident film set sleuth on campus!

Maya’s pillar is one all film fans will want to pay close attention to! She’s been looking into the use of the Lakeshore Grounds as a filming location for popular film and television. Did you know that last summer’s blockbuster hit Suicide Squad was filmed here on campus?! Through her research Maya has developed a surefire guide to spotting filming crews on campus to share with viewers! Who knows what movie the area will pop-up in next?

Ecology – Hillary

Hillary
Here we see Hillary listening to some beautiful bird calls as part of her research. Listen to the call of the Gray Jay here.

Hillary has designed her exhibit as an invitation for viewers to get outside and explore the beautiful landscapes of the Etobicoke Lakeshore area. Through her research she had become familiar with the countless plants and animals who call Colonel Samuel Smith Park home. Did you know over 270 different species of birds live in the park? Our park is even home to Canada’s new national bird, the Gray Jay! Take a walk through the park yourself and see how many different types of flora and fauna you can spot! Hillary hopes that through this exhibit you will feel inspired to advocate for the protection of the Etobicoke Lakeshore area and all the creatures who call it home.

The CHIME Digital Exhibits team truly hopes that you enjoy our exhibit as much as we have enjoyed writing and designing it for you this term. We would also like to express our deepest thanks to Jennifer from the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre for all of her help and guidance through this process.

Until next time this is CHIME, chiming off.

 

Update on the CHIME Digital Exhibit

FB_IMG_1491754257064This is the second in a series of guest posts submitted by the members of the CHIME Digital Exhibits group that document the group’s development of a digital exhibit featuring the different histories of the Lakeshore Grounds. (The first post in the series can be read here).

Research is nearly wrapped up and the next few weeks will be a storm of proofreading and getting the final product ready for launch!

In case you missed the project’s introductory entry, CHIME is an upcoming digital exhibition highlighting the colourful history of the Etobicoke Lakeshore community, with special attention on the institutions that existed prior to the founding of Humber College. It will be hosted on the Interpretive Centre’s website and completely free for all community members to access!

The Lakeshore community in Etobicoke is quite diverse, with students from high school and college as well as the local business owners and families that have settled in the area. However, the heritage of the land is a common and uniting factor for everyone. By promoting awareness of what happened on the grounds and why it is significant, CHIME aims to strengthen bonds within the community and create more solid common ground for everyone to stand on. With rising rates of mental illness among youth, knowledge about the history of the psychiatric hospital can be empowering for modern students, and hopefully reduce stigma around what is becoming an increasingly common struggle. Another such example of how the exhibit can benefit the community it serves is the ecology of the area – with climate change and the fight to protect the environment, so too must we be mindful of the way of life Canadians enjoy. Bird-watching in Colonel Samuel Smith Park wouldn’t be possible if we damaged their habitats to the point of driving away the animals that call the space home. These are just some of the ways that the exhibition is shaping up to be an intriguing and helpful tool for Humber students and beyond.

As the history of the area is a truly unique experience, so is this exhibit. Some of the documents and visual resources that will be included in the exhibition include a look at the various architectural trends around campus, such as the old psychiatric hospital cottages and the modernist structure of what is now the A building. Thanks to help from The Archives of Ontario as well as Humber’s Facility Management Department, the CHIME exhibit will have an exclusive look at architectural drawings from the 1950s and 60s, as well as some historic photos from the Teachers’ College that helped shape the school today. Thanks to the amazing support team working behind the scenes, we’ll also be treated to 3D renderings that recreate some of the original buildings!

CHIME will be launching on April 22nd at lakeshoregrounds.ca/chime (link to come).

Direct from the Artist: Nancy Barrett

This is a special guest post from Nancy Barrett of Nature’s Dance Photography. As part of her current exhibit, Through A Lens, Brightly, we asked Nancy to share with us a reflection on her approach to birding and to photography.

Through A Lens, Brightly is on display on the third floor of Humber’s Student Welcome and Resource Centre until April 29, 2017.

I have been keenly interested in the natural world around us since childhood.  My early years were spent exploring the wild spaces just beyond my grandparents’, and later my parents’, backyards in north Etobicoke, near the Humber River, right at the edge of encroaching suburban development.  There was so much to discover:  birds, bugs, and beasts of all kinds; frogs and toads and snakes, oh my!  My parents, bless them, disguised their revulsion well when I came home to show off my latest discovery, an Eastern Gartersnake, so that I never feared wild things.

1--Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting (photo: Nancy Barrett)

The first bird that made a significant impression on me was a beautiful male Indigo Bunting that had unfortunately struck our window.  I wondered at this tiny, incredibly jewel-toned creature…a wonder that has never dimmed in the years since.

As a young woman, I joined the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now ON Nature), a non-profit dedicated to the protection of wild species and spaces through conservation and education, which opened up the boundaries of my world by leaps and bounds.  Through them, I immediately gained valuable mentors and lifelong friends and connections and travelled to wild spaces such as Rainy River/Lake of the Woods, horse-trekking through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Algonquin Provincial Park, and adult summer nature camps on the Bruce Peninsula.  A memorable trip in 1985 to Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island triggered a new-formed obsession:  bird listing, or “twitching” (an effort to see and record as many different species as possible in a region; I’ve seen 349 out of a recorded 494 species in Ontario).  Along with each new species grew the desire to document every new thing I was seeing on film, to learn more, see more.  I joined more organizations, including the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO), the Toronto Ornithological Club (TOC) and, through the wonderful people I’ve met in the park, the Friends of Sam Smith (FOSS).

2--Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanager (photo: Nancy Barrett)

Together, my friends and family and I chased rarities throughout the province (and sometimes outside it—we once drove down into upstate New York to see a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, successfully, and back home in one afternoon).  Meanwhile, with the help of knowledgeable mentors, my familiarity with field marks, songs and calls, migration patterns, feeding and behaviour grew, providing a deep insight into my photographic subjects (no longer just birds, but also butterflies, dragonflies, wildflowers and more), and helping to inform what I wished to convey through my images.  I can see that vision still developing and becoming clearer as I compare my early efforts with newer images; it morphs and changes.

3--Virginia Creeper Berries
Virginia Creeper Berries (photo: Nancy Barrett)

I began exploring Col. Sam Smith Park in 2008, visiting through all seasons and capturing the subtle changes that occur as each season progresses.  From pussy willows in spring to the last fallen leaf in autumn, I became familiar with the different mini-habitats throughout the park, which itself began largely as lakefill and which has naturalized beautifully into the biodiverse sanctuary it is today.  Spring and fall migrant birds are drawn every year to the inviting green space projecting out from the lakeshore, a place to rest and feed before continuing their journey north to breeding areas.

4--Whimbrels
Whimbrels (photo: Nancy Barrett)

A special feature of the park is the annual Whimbrel migration, peaking around May 24. Whimbrels are large, curve-billed shorebirds which appear every year, swirling around above the shoreline, filling the air with their whistling calls.

5--Red-necked Grebes
Red-neck Grebes (photo: Nancy Barrett)

Many birds also stay to breed in the park, including Red-necked Grebes, a diving bird that is at the eastern edge of its range here, and is now breeding in increasing numbers through caring people who provide anchored floating wooden nesting platforms each spring.  Tree Swallows, an insect-eating species that is losing ground due to loss of suitable habitat, are provided with clean nest boxes in the meadow.

6--Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow (photo: Nancy Barrett)

Just these two species alone have provided me many hours of serene observation and documentation of their life cycles: migration, courtship, nesting, raising young—all of these are available at close quarters.  I’ve spent many lovely, meandering hours in the park, knowing that I’ll come across more treasures–a meadow full of dew-diademed Monarch Butterflies gathering for southward migration on a foggy morn, a Yellow Warbler feeding its newly-fledged youngster overhead; a Mink catching a fish right in front of me, a Snowy Owl gazing at me as she flies by.

7--Snail and Berry
Snail and berry (Photo: Nancy Barrett)

There’s a common element to the encounters listed above—that the creatures felt comfortable enough to behave naturally, without fear or discomfort, in my presence.  There should never be harassment or behaviour by people or their pets that prevents wild animals from feeding, looking after young around nest sites or dens, or the use of birding apps to call birds repeatedly, especially in breeding season. The employment of ethics in wildlife and nature photography is something I advocate as often and as strongly as possible, and in any case ultimately results in one-of-a-kind images.

8--Tree Swallow Fight
Tree Swallow fight (photo: Nancy Barrett)

I’ve learned to use natural cover to conceal myself whenever possible—trees, shrubs, slopes—to prevent disturbing the birds and other wildlife that I photograph.  If there is no cover, I get down and flat as possible, and wait for natural behaviour to reappear.  I once crawled through a crust of cormorant poop and fish bits to photograph some Black-bellied Plovers on a treeless island.  I have never found the need to use special camouflage clothing—I just dress mostly in earth tones and try not to make fast movements.

It is here, in this wilderness in the city, that I learned a secret to observing and photographing wildlife—the ability to be still and quiet.  It took a long time for me to understand the benefits of patience.  At first, I was eager to get a little closer, just a little…and was almost always rewarded by an empty branch instead of a bird, or the back end of a turtle as it disappeared into the water.  As for learning to be quiet, well, ask my friends—it’s not a quality I’m known for.  But learn I did, and the resulting images showed it.

9--Painted Lady
Painted Lady (photo: Nancy Barrett)

Friends sometimes ask me, “How did you see and photograph all this stuff in a city park?  How do you find it?”  I tell them all you have to do is slow down, put your smartphone on flight mode, breathe in deeply, and look around.  I mean really look—at the sky, the water, the earth, the plants around you.  Listen carefully–do you hear birds calling?  Reach out–feel the furrowed bark of a tree.  When you open yourself to even the smallest things, nature will open itself up to you.

I hope I will continue to draw inspiration from and create images of the wild spaces of this park for a long time to come.

“A photograph shouldn’t be just a picture, it should be a philosophy” 

–Amit Kalantri

Nancy Barrett

Nature’s Dance Photography

Flickr: Naturegirl99

Instagram: Naturegirl99

goldengooseproductions@yahoo.ca

The Assembly Hall

Image of the Assembly Hall's historic performance hall
The auditorium on the second floor of The Assembly Hall. Photo from The Assembly Hall’s website, re-posted here with permission.

For this post, I wanted to write about the history of The Assembly Hall and its relationship with the Lakeshore Grounds. Like most students who attend the Lakeshore campus of Humber College, it is a building that I walk by frequently while on campus. I was interested in learning more about how the history of the building when the property was a psychiatric hospital.

Located at the corner of Colonel Samuel Smith Drive and Lake Shore Boulevard West, The Assembly Hall has become an entertainment and cultural hub both for the local community and for the Humber College community. Though the building has been renovated in recent years and now features a contemporary glass addition on its exterior, it was originally constructed to serve the Mimico Asylum. Much like today, The Assembly Hall was used for entertainment purposes for Hospital patients and staff. It was also used for religious worship on a weekly basis.

As part of what was known as “moral treatment” in the nineteenth century, the patients assisted in constructing The Assembly Hall – as well as the various other buildings in the surrounding area. Moral treatment emphasized the influence of the environment and what one did in that environment as a means of healing mental health symptoms. In particular, gendered labour assignments and assigned recreation events were emphasized. Female patients were tasked with domestic chores, while men were outdoors doing physical labour as part of their “moral treatment”.

When it was completed in 1898, The Assembly Hall was used for concerts, dances, and religious services. The main floor acted as office space and storerooms and the second floor, where the auditorium is located, was The Assembly Hall’s entertainment center. Today, these areas essentially serve the same purposes.

Today, The Assembly Hall is owned and run by the City of Toronto. It regularly holds art exhibits, plays, and other community and cultural programming. You can visit Assembly Hall’s website or Facebook page for more information about them and their events.

Announcing CHIME Digital Exhibits

CHIME logo1
CHIME Digital Exhibits logo

This is a special guest post submitted by the members of the CHIME Digital Exhibits group. It is the first in a series of posts that will document the group’s development of a digital exhibit that will feature the different histories of the Lakeshore Grounds.

As Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima once said, “Building the future and keeping the past alive are one and the same thing.” As a heritage group, it’s a sentiment that we can’t help but latch onto, especially during a time when Humber College is rapidly expanding its scope and undergoing construction of numerous new facilities.

One of the most notable factors in making Humber’s Lakeshore campus a popular option for students is due to the character of the area. Rather than sitting in massive lecture halls and trudging through plain, industrial buildings to get to class or study, those who work and study on the Lakeshore Grounds get the unique opportunity to walk through history.

However, not everyone who studies here appreciates what they are a part of, and a new student project is aiming to fix that.

Launching at the end of the current semester is CHIME Digital Exhibits, an undertaking intended to promote awareness of the history and heritage of the Lakeshore Grounds and Colonel Samuel Smith Park.

Collaborating with the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre, CHIME will be providing an interactive, five-part virtual exhibition on the heritage and ecology of the Etobicoke-Lakeshore area. The exhibit includes five pillars, which compose Humber’s history as well as the subjects from which the project name is formed: (teachers’) College, (psychiatric) Hospital, Indigenous community, Movie sets, and Ecological zone. Together, the exhibits will enhance community learning and facilitate involvement and contributions to the ongoing legacy of the area.

Being run by six students in Humber’s Arts Administration and Cultural Management Program, the CHIME Digital Exhibits group wants to encourage Humber students to learn about and appreciate the narrative of the neighborhood before Humber College, and engage the surrounding community with their cultural, historical, and ecological legacies.

The exhibit will be completely free to access and available for the general public to view, featuring exclusive documents, images, video, audio from all five pillars of the area’s history. Additionally, social media outlets are currently running in conjunction with the exhibit, encouraging students and community members to share their own stories about Etobicoke and Humber using the official #CHIMEin hashtag.

The webpage featuring the exhibit will launch on April 22, 2017 at lakeshoregrounds.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CHIMEdigitalexh/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CHIMEdigitalexh

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chimedigitalexh/

For more information, or to contribute, contact: chimeinterpretive@gmail.com

Designing a new Storytelling Event: Can You See What I See?

FullSizeRenderWe have an interesting challenge here at the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre because we focus on four rather unique histories:

  • The history and culture of the Ojibwe Anishinaabe and Iroquoian peoples;
  • The history of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital;
  • The history of education in the Lakeshore Grounds area including the Lakeshore Teachers’ College and Humber College; and
  • The history of ecological development in Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Each topic is rich and diverse all on its own – but the topics also knit together beautifully in the tapestry that is the history of the Lakeshore Grounds.

Most of our events and exhibits deal with one topic at a time – but this Saturday, March 25th, we’re taking on the challenge of presenting the woven tapestry as a whole. Our goal is to encourage everyone to look at the Lakeshore Grounds with fresh eyes, to see the different threads that have made it what it is today.

With the support of Myseum of Toronto, we’ve designed a new walking tour of the Lakeshore Grounds that begins at the Interpretive Centre, takes us through the Humber campus (yes, there’s a quick peak at the tunnels) and ends in Colonel Samuel Smith Park. And it’s not just a new tour route, Can You See What I See? is a storytelling event combined with a guided tour. That means that throughout the tour route you will encounter storytellers who will share short stories inspired by the indigenous, psychiatric, educational, and ecological histories of the Lakeshore Grounds.

Tours leave every hour with the first tour at 12pm and the last leaving at 4pm from the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre. The tours last roughly 1.25 hours and the route is fully mobility accessible (ASL interpretation available on the 12pm tour).

Come explore the Lakeshore Grounds with us and see its familiar sights from a new angle. Register for your preferred tour time by clicking here.

Looking for something a little EXTRA special? Myseum is coordinating a bus from Toronto that will include both the Can You See What I See? tours and the mAPPing the Territory exhibition at Humber’s North Space Gallery. The event is free but space is limited so be sure to reserve your seat by clicking here!

 

Designing a Bee Hotel Workshop

tumblr_oluboed9hh1uiehroo1_1280I’ve been thinking of a bee hotel workshop since last September, and now that Spring is just around the corner it’s finally time to start making it happen!

While there are around 4000 different kinds of bees in North America, we usually only hear about the charismatic honey bee. But as charismatic as they undoubtedly are, honey bees are newcomers on the ecological scene. Introduced by European settlers, up until about the 1850s there weren’t even any honey bees in British Columbia, for example. That’s hardly a blink of an eye in terms of ecological history!

Biodiversity is a good in its own right, but it also makes a lot of practical sense to protect our native bee species, like Mason Bees, who live in wood, and Solitary Mining Bees, who live in loose dirt, or the Wood Nesting Augochlorine which lives in rotten wood, because they all pollinate different plants with various degrees of efficiency.

Bee hotels provide homes for a range of indigenous bee species that nest in wood, and encourage bees that tend to travel only short distances to take up residence in your gardens or green spaces and help you grow things throughout the season.

Be on the lookout for our very own “how to build a bee hotel” workshop that we’ll be putting on this April at the Interpretive Centre!

For more information of local bee species and their habitats, see this handy guide developed by the David Suzuki Foundation.