A Cityscape Remembered
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A Cityscape Remembered

We look at some of the nominees up for the five Heritage Toronto Awards to be announced next week.

Photo by Vanessa Garrison of Garrison McArthur Photos, courtesy of  the Artscape Youngplace Facebook page

Photo by Vanessa Garrison of Garrison McArthur Photos, courtesy of the Artscape Youngplace Facebook page.

Every year, Heritage Toronto recognizes outstanding contributions to the celebration and preservation of the city’s heritage in five categories that span media, architectural conservation, and community heritage. We at Torontoist are fond of the awards—and not only because our own Jamie Bradburn and David Wencer are up for recognitions in the Short Publication category. The awards recognize the importance of recognizing and honouring what helped shape our city, which sounds hopelessly earnest but helps serve the essential function of keeping Toronto awesome.

While we won’t play favourites (we swear!) where it comes to potential winners at next Tuesday’s awards ceremony, here are some of the nominations that have attracted our attention:

  • Lost Breweries of Toronto, Jordan St. John
    We may not think of Toronto as a place rich in beer history, or really any kind of history that contradicts our past reputation as Toronto “the Good” (read: “boring”), but Toronto craft beer scholar Jordan St. John points out that this presumption is far from being true. His book on Toronto’s historical breweries from the 18th century on through the mid-20th century dives into the stories behind local beermasters, brewhouses, and their respective fates.
  • Riverdale: East of the Don, Elizabeth Gillan Muir
    East side riders rejoice: Elizabeth Gillan Muir’s extensive history of Riverdale sweeps from the neighbourhood’s late-18th century era of British settlement to its annexation by the City of Toronto, and into the present day.
  • Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street)
    Commissioned by Toronto Artscape, architecture firms Teeple Architects and Goldsmith Borgal & Company teamed up with Clifford Restoration and CPE Structural Consultants to transform the century-old Givins-Shaw Street Public School into a one-of-a-kind community arts hub. Along the way, they restored the building’s sandstone exterior, reinforced its structural steel columns, and preserved its grand central staircase. The result? *Mwah.*

  • Both Sides of the Fence: Surviving the Trap, Michael A. Amos

    In his memoir about growing up in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, Amos paints a picture of the area as he knew it, one notorious for its high crime rates and gang activity throughout the city. The result is a moving story of his attempts to rise above his difficult circumstances, and a portrayal of one of Toronto’s neighbourhoods during one of its most troubled periods.

  • Davy the Punk, Bob Bossin

    Davy Bossin, or Davy the Punk, was a notorious figure in Toronto’s 1930s underground gambling scene. Bob Bossin, Davy’s son, tells the story of his father’s life and the city during this turbulent time. In Bob’s own words, “Davy was not a man who kept a diary; ‘Bobby, what you don’t say can’t be held against you,’ he warned me.” Bob has spoken with his father’s “old pals”: bookies, cops and judges, to better understand his father, who died when he was 17. Along the way he claims to have discovered “the dark side of Toronto the Good and a missing chapter in Canadian Jewish history.”

  • The Chinese Head Tax and the Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies of the Twentieth Century, Arlene Chan

    Arlene Chan’s book aims to educate the reader about the racism and cultural barriers faced by Canada’s first Chinese immigrants, when thousands among them worked to create the Canadian Pacific Railway. After its completion, in an effort to halt further immigration, the government imposed a Head Tax on all Chinese immigrants in 1885. It was only in 2006 that the community received an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Chan uses photographs, documents and first-person narratives to document this heinous period of Canadian history, one that is all too easily overlooked in today’s classrooms.

  • The History of Sunnybrook Hospital: Battle to Greatness, Francesca Grosso

    Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital has a storied history. From its beginnings as a veterans hospital to its current status as an internationally recognized health sciences centre, Francesca Grosso tracks the hospital’s history in The History of Sunnybrook Hospital: Battle to Greatness. By focusing on the people: administrators, staff, and practitioners, who worked to keep the hospital operating through its many incarnations, Grosso places a human face on the well-known institution. Billed as telling the stories of “pioneers, rebels and leaders,” the book examines this city landmark.

The Heritage Toronto Awards will be announced next Tuesday, October 13. The complete list of nominees can be found here.

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