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

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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.

Black History Month

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Photo linked from JeanAugustine.ca

The month of February is Black History Month in Canada. This is a  month that recognizes the important contributions and history of the Black community in our country. I approached our Curator earlier this month and said I wanted to draw attention to several Black Canadians who I think everyone should know. One blog post cannot cover the long list of names I have read about recently, but I wanted to acknowledge a few that stood out to me who have made significant historical and social contributions to Canada.

The first person I want to highlight is Jean Augustine. I came across Augustine’s name when I first started looking into the history of Black History Month in Canada.

Jean Augustine is a former Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. It is because of her efforts that we now celebrate Black History Month in Canada. In 1993, she became the first Black female Member of Parliament where she advocated for cultural diversity, women’s issues, and immigration rights. In 1995, it was Augustine who brought forward a motion to officially recognize Black History Month in Canada to talk about the important contributions made by Black Canadians throughout our history. In December 1995, her motion passed with a unanimous vote.

A second Canadian that I want to highlight is Viola Desmond, a prominent citizen of Nova Scotia. She was a beautician and entrepreneur in Halifax who brought national attention to human rights with her famous court case:

One night in November 1946 Desmond decided to go to the Roseland Theatre to see a film while her car was being repaired. She sat in the “Whites Only Area” of the theatre. After refusing to go to the “Coloured Only” section, Desmond was arrested and jailed overnight. She was eventually charged with tax fraud, and ordered to pay a $26 fine. Despite hiring a lawyer to help overturn the decision, the charges remained until 2010 when the Nova Scotia government made a formal apology to Desmond’s family.

Viola Desmond will be the first woman to appear on Canadian currency. Her image will be on the $10 bill beginning in 2018. I think it is important to speak about Viola Desmond because she is a prime example of someone who saw an injustice and acted against it.

A third story that caught my attention is the story of the No. 2 Construction Battalion:

When the War broke out, it was extremely difficult for Black men to join the Canadian military. However, in July 1916, the very first Canadian Black Battalion was formed in Nova Scotia with a total of 600 men accepted for service. The No. 2 Construction Battalion was not given a combat role in the War – in March 1918 they were deployed to Liverpool, England, and then France, to work with the Canadian Forestry Corps. Eventually, some of the men joined regular units to fight on the front lines of the War. Many of these men were awarded medals for their war efforts.

It is important to acknowledge the war efforts of Black soldiers. When war broke out, there was much discrimination against people of colour by Canada’s government and military. These men were able to break through racial barriers, which shows that when you fight for something you believe in, changes can come.

This is only a small list of important Black Canadians in our history. I encourage our readers to do your own research and share what you learn with your family and peers. Some great places to start include:

Black History Canada from Historica Canada

Ontario Black History Society

Behind the Scenes: Testing the Tunnel Install

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Testing different wires to hang the collection with in the tunnels

Next Saturday, February 25th we’re hosting a pop-up art show in the tunnels that run underneath Humber College’s Lakeshore campus (details below). But a non-traditional gallery location poses its own challenge: beyond the dirt, dust, and spiderwebs the tunnels are an historic site that date back to the late 19th century. Service tunnel or no – we really don’t want to be drilling into the walls. As luck would have it, those pipes that obstruct the view during our historic tours are coming in handy! There’s one set that runs the length of the walls at just the “right” height for what we needed.

So this morning before the Interpretive Centre opened for the day, I was in the tunnels with one of our Field Placement students, Nadine Finlay. We came armed with a collection of different wires to see which would fit behind the pipes, be strong enough to hold the frames, and – most importantly – which would look best.

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Less than an hour later we had weighed the options and made our choices. Next step: sorting out how to construct a standing frame to hold a 4′ x 5′ print….

Curious about what will be hanging off those wires? Secrets of an ever changing landscape, the tunnel exhibition will feature the mixed media collection that Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward originally created for our Instagram Takeover last fall. The collection includes animated GIFs, pastel drawings, acrylic paintings on wood, collage work, and photographs all inspired by the former campus of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and the grounds surrounding it, including Colonel Samuel Smith Park.

Join us on Saturday, February 25th between 11am – 5pm to see the show. Access will be through the newly renovated G Building at 17 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive. The location, including access to the tunnels, is mobility accessible.  

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Strictly Steam

Assistant Curator Ben Mitchell talks about his research on a radiator from the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital that was pulled out of G Building during the recent renovations.

The radiator can be seen on the third floor of the Student Welcome and Resource Centre at Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus, just across from the Office of the Principal.

With special thanks to the folks at HeatingHelp.com, and Peter Owens from Barnes & Jones Inc.