Date: Content created between January to April, 2019. Public reveal of content is to be announced by the OHT.
Partner: Ontario Heritage Trust
Location: Online project to be uploaded to a redesigned OHT website at a future date.
Project Members: Christopher J. Dillon
This exhibition was created by the Ontario Heritage Trust in partnership and collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information’s Museum Studies cohort.
This exhibit originated from the Ontario Heritage Trust’s (OHT) initiative of moving forward into newer digital opportunities for heritage. The OHT identified a need to revitalize the traditional blue-and-bronze plaques that have existed in Ontario since the 1950s. As a government-supported institution, the OHT serves as a means to understand and interpret Ontario’s history, especially in terms of the multiplicity of voices, peoples and groups which contributed to the province in which we live. Specifically, the OHT’s yearly theme for the inception of this project is ‘Communication’ in its many forms and the way in which it has affected Ontario.
This initial stage serves as one step in a long-running project of reviving the OHT’s website, updating the plaque database with new features and content, and researching new information that is of interest to Ontarians. The entirety of the project will reside on the OHT’s website at https://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/pages/programs/provincial-plaque-program.
Ideally, as this platform will be designed as an online experience, this exhibit will be accessible and beneficial to all Canadians, not just Ontarians. It could be of interest to residents, visitors and new arrivals in Ontario who are seeking to understand more of Ontario’s history. Those with interests in history, social history and public history will also find this relevant, as the stories told throughout the Plaque Revival are anticipated to be those which may have gone unnoticed.
The initial phase, from September to December, involved researching other plaque projects in heritage institutions, both domestic and international. They were analyzed for improvements that could be added to the eventual redesign of the website. The findings were presented in a paper to both the Director of the OHT and subsequently to the Marketing and Communications Branch.
The second phase of the project, from January 2019 to April of 2019, involved application of research results to improve and expand on selected existing plaques in which selection and research began for the first sample interpretive texts. During February and March, there were samples of research and media findings sent to the OHT for approval with permission of the institutions and archives in which research was conducted.
At this point, the interpretive texts are still within the editing phase and pending OHT approval. The texts and media mentioned above will not be available immediately to users, as the website redesign and content uploading are largely in the early phases of development.
As this project is not a traditional museum exhibition and as the website will be launched sometime in the future, it will take time before the OHT can gauge the project’s success. However, OHT supervisors have been consistently pleased with the development to this stage. As an experimental digital reworking of the OHT’s information, it should succeed in spreading awareness about the OHT’s plaques, the historical topics to which they pertain and the relationship the OHT has in researching and interpreting the province’s history.
I would like to extend my warmest thanks to placement partners Beth-Anne Mendes and Dawson Bridger of the OHT, who allowed me the important opportunity to work with them on this project and for their assistance and support. Furthermore, I thank Dena Doroszenko and the staff of the Ashbridge Estate, Annie Fan of the Chinese Canadian Archive at Toronto Reference Library and Jacqueline Edwards of the CNE Exhibition Place Archives for their assistance with my research and providing me with a wealth of relevant materials. Finally, I would also like to acknowledge Prof. Brower, Rebecca Noone and Camille-Mary Sharp for the encouragement, guidance and support which was afforded over the course of the project.