Heritage Toronto presented its annual awards to recipients in five categories last night in the grand Art Deco surroundings of The Carlu. The annual fundraising event and celebration was attended by over 500 people and hosted by journalist Christopher Hume.
This year there were 60 nominations across the five categories. The full nominations list for each category can be found under their linked headings below. Having been a member of one of the juries for five years now, I can tell you how difficult it is to narrow down to the nominations to just one Honourable Mention and one Winner per category: the quality of the majority of the nominations is high enough that the juries would like to be able to recognize more of the entries for their superb and important work in preserving or resurrecting significant pieces of Toronto's story.
The Community Heritage Award was presented by Allied REIT. This year's Honourable Mention went to the Toronto Ward Museum, a museum without walls which connects past migration stories to current struggles.
The jury chose the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA) to receive the award. The CLGA collects, preserves, and provides access to objects, writings, and recordings related to the LGBTQ2+ experience in Canada.
Also a winner in this category, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Toronto Branch was the recipient of the Member's Choice Award, which all Heritage Toronto members can vote on. The ACO was singled out partly for recently having assumed the TO Built database, now incorporated into their website and being rapidly expanded.
The Public History Award (I am a member of this jury) saw 15 nominees from a diverse range of forms, including tv shows and videos, museum exhibits, websites, public art murals, a conference, and books that don't fall into the more scholarly categories coming up.
Honorable Mention in Public History went to the website—or interactive web documentary—The World In Ten Blocks, which allows visitors to explore the Bloor Street buildings and their stories in the Bloorcourt Village BIA area. It's really pretty amazing: get in there and scroll and scroll and scroll…
Winner of the Public History Award was the television series 50 Objects That Define Toronto created by Matt Blacket of Spacing and Ian Daffern of Bell Media for FibeTV. If you don't have Fibe, you can view segments of this excellent series on Spacing's Vimeo page. Objects that "played a role at significant historical moments, and speak to Toronto's unknown and unique stories" are highlighted. The book upon which the series was based is available from the Spacing store.
Recognizing articles, booklets, or online publications that explore Toronto's history and heritage, Honourable Mention in the Historical Writing: Short Publications went to Canada's Greatest Cartoonist, from Volume 38 (summer 2016) of Taddle Creek. Conan Tobias' article honours Lou Skuce, known for the first half of the 20th Century as Canada's Greatest Cartoonist, a beloved figure in Toronto's newspaper scene.
Winner amongst the 12 entries in the category was Soils and Subways: Excavating Environments during the Building of Rapid Transit in Toronto, 1944-1968. Author Jay Young's chapter for the book Moving Natures: Mobility and Environment in Canadian History for the University of Calgary Press was published in 2016. It sounds like an engineer and/or transit geek's dream. Amazon has it, but it's cheaper on Kobo. Looking forward to reading it.
The book for 50 Objects That Define Toronto just happens to have received Honourable Mention in this category, from among the 12 nominees. (See above if you skipped that section).
Winner of the Historical Writing: Book Award was Picturing Toronto: Photography and the Making of a Modern City, by Sarah Bassnett and published by McGill—Queen's University Press. It is described as "a tribute to the power of the image, demonstrating how early 20th-century photographers influenced the development of modern Toronto." It is also available from Amazon, but is currently cheaper at Indigo.
This category produces two awards, split between smaller and larger projects, the division between which is left to the discretion of the jury. Presenter Mike Yorke, President of award co-sponsor Local 27 of the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario, noted the particular excellence of both design and craftsmanship of the year's nominees, and reminded the audience of the critical need for more skilled tradespeople in the Toronto construction industry, including carpenters for which the local runs apprenticeship programs.
The jury chose Glenview Presbyterian Church to receive the award. The jury noted the care that was taken to work in a modern, fully accessible entrance, elevator, and washrooms, all while preserving the beauty of the heritage structures. Architect of Record was Harrison Duong Architects Inc., while Design Architect was Davidson Langley Inc.
The jury chose St. Michael's Cathedral to receive the award for the restoration of its nave and east chancel window, part of the extensive rehabilitation which the Gothic Revival basilica has been undergoing. Heading up the work has been +VG Architects and Clifford Restoration Ltd. Several in-depth videos detailing the restoration of elements of the historic building can be found on the cathedral's website.
The evening also featured two Awards of Distinction, the first a Special Achievement Award given to author and community advocate Arlene Chan for her "lifetime commitment to documenting and sharing the Chinese Canadian experience in Toronto" The Volunteer Service Award went to Wilf Neidhardt for his "17-year contribution to Heritage Toronto's work, in particular the Historical Plaques Program."
While that was it for the evening, there are many other Heritage Toronto initiatives that you can find out more about at their website, including upcoming talks and heritage plaque presentations.