Resources: Finding our place in Ontario’s history

Creating Memory, by John Warkentin

Photo: Creating Memory, by John Warkentin


Ontario Heritage Trust

Buildings and architecture, Community

Published Date: May 06, 2010

On the shelf

Creating Memory, by John Warkentin

Becker Associates, 2010. Toronto has over 6,000 public outdoor sculptures, works of art that provide a sense of the rich variety of life and work in the city, its peoples, cultures and aspirations. Interest in commissioning public sculpture began slowly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but increased rapidly after the 1950s. This is a book about the sculptures and how they disclose the city to itself.

Creating Memory’s two introductory sections examine the factors behind this expansion over time and the changes in style as one generation of sculptors succeeded another. It looks at the reasons behind the changes as sculptures were conceived, sculpted and erected.

Through Toronto’s sculptures, the character of the city and its local communities, and many facets of Canadian life, are remembered and revealed in distinctive ways. Creating Memory provides a new and very human perspective on Toronto, its history and its local geography.

John Warkentin, a native Manitoban, has been a resident of Toronto since the 1960s. He has taught geography for over three decades at York University in Toronto.

North York’s Modernist Architecture, a reprint of the 1997 City of North York publication

E.R.A. Architects, 2009. This document had initially been produced over a decade ago. We had two key reasons for reprinting it. First, it was a well executed survey of modernist building in North York. Nothing more definitive has been subsequently produced and copies were very hard to find, even though it was a valuable research tool. . . . The second reason for reprinting this document was that it creates an interesting snapshot of what was so recently valued, and allows us to see how we’ve responded to this legacy.

. . . The good news is that all of the top 20 significant modernist projects identified in the document were added officially to the City of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties. . . . But the bad news is that of the top 20, two have already been demolished and there is clear evidence that a number of others have received major but not particularly well-considered alterations that mar their architectural value.

. . . Advances are happening in heritage conservation . . . But the task initiated by North York’s Modernist Architecture remains incomplete. We still need a stronger recognition of the legacy of the recent past, a stronger appreciation of the value that this legacy contributes to our current city, and a better understanding of the sustained, layered richness of our urban environment. [Michael McClelland, Principal, E.R.A. Architects Inc.]

On the web

The following online resources are useful tools in identifying and understanding various heritage resources available throughout Ontario: