Date: April 14, 2016 – ongoing
Partner: Ontario Heritage Trust
Venue: Enoch Turner Schoolhouse
Project Members: Dylan Dammermann, Jennifer Ford, and Alyssa Lake
All in a Day’s Work: Industry and Growth in Old Town explores the industrial and working transformation that took place in Toronto’s oldest neighbourhood from about 1870-1910. The exhibition and associated hands-on activities and self-guided walking tour create a gateway for audiences to explore the neighbourhood and engage in its rich history through the buildings and people that helped define this period of Toronto history. This exhibition will also fill the interpretive void left by the closing of the First Parliament Site to tell the history of the neighbourhood.
The exhibition and related elements are primarily intended for family audiences, as well as school groups. A secondary audience is adults with a particular interest in local history. This accounts for an underserved audience at the schoolhouse (families), as well as the site’s existing audience (history buffs).
The exhibition is being held at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, an Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT) site at King and Parliament streets, periodically through 2016. Because the schoolhouse is a popular events venue, the exhibition took on a pop-up nature, so it can be easily moved for events. Because the exhibition also comprises a self-guided walking tour, this may take visitors to other parts of the neighbourhood, from St. Lawrence Market to Corktown Common.
The exhibition was developed in collaboration with the OHT and the University of Toronto Faculty of Information. Funding for printing, food, hardware, etc. was provided by these two partners. Additionally, the OHT provided in-kind support through communications and marketing expertise, design, and waiving the venue rental fee for the opening reception.
Planning this exhibition and other products began in October 2015. Solidifying an initial concept took until mid-November 2015. We then proceeded with research and writing from late-November 2015 to mid-January 2016. From January to March, the text was changed and approved and supplies ordered for the hands-on activities. At the beginning of April 2016, the panel and walking tour designs were finalized and printed. The exhibition opened and walking tour launched on April 14, 2016.
The exhibition, located at Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, consists of six text and image-based panels, as well as hands-on activities and a self-guided walking tour. These interpretive components showcase reproduced archival materials, including photographs, paintings, and quotations. Because of the 2D nature of these panels, our team also added flipbooks to each panel to help create more hands-on interactive elements. Additionally, hands-on activities use costumes and reproductions to help engage family audiences. The main pop-up text panels and hands-on activities will be located in the schoolhouse’s main hall. As we could not use objects for this exhibition, due to its portable nature, we developed a self-guided walking tour that takes visitors to related buildings in the neighbourhood.
Our marketing was primarily spearheaded by the OHT who advertised on their institutional social media and web pages. The OHT also printed bilingual buck slip advertisements that were distributed to their sites and local businesses. We ran a Facebook event page, sent out formal email invitations, and advertised on free web-based community calendars. We anticipated having a special speaker who would lend a larger media presence. Unfortunately, we were unable to book him in time for our opening. After the launch event OHT will continue to advertise this exhibition periodically when it is in place.
Fifty to seventy-five people are expected to attend the opening of this exhibition. It is expected that this exhibition will increase both visitors to the Schoolhouse and foot traffic in the neighbourhood. These outcomes will be measured through site observations made by the on-site Educational Coordinator as well as the distribution of walking tours.
We would like to thank everyone at the Ontario Heritage Trust, particularly the work of Sam Wesley. We would also like to thank the site coordinator Stephanie Sim for her continued support for this project. Thank you to the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto and our professors, Matt Brower and Carmen Victor, and teaching assistant, Rebecca Noone. Thank you to all of our families and, in particular, to our boyfriends and partners (Diarmid, Jeff, and Kevin) for their endless support of the exhibition team and this project.