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).

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

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

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.