On Saturday, June 2nd the Community Engagement Committee (CEC) did a successful practice run of their new and improved 2018 LGBTQ2+ Pride walking tour of Toronto’s Gay Village. Croft Campbell-Higgins, CEC’s long standing volunteer and researcher, did a major overhaul of the presentation to bring it up to date for 2018. “The tour has been updated to better represent more facets of our diverse community to provide a more nuanced and balanced historical discussion and journey through our history,” notes Campbell-Higgins. “We removed some stops that were not relevant any more, added additional stops along Yonge Street and elsewhere. The amazing thing about Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ community is that there are so many potential stories to tell, so many places to discover, we could have multiple tours, and this is evident from depth of resources in the CLGA’s vast holdings.”
With a more comprehensive tour, the Community Engagement team’s final step was to invite friends and volunteers to join them on the circuit and provide feedback. Nine people attended the tour led by CEC members Douglas Haines and Rachel E. Beattie. At alternate points of interest in the walk, Douglas and Rachel presented engaging relevant facts and associated with that location. The tour consists of 17 item/points of interest, during a 90 minute stroll through the Village with the last stop at the CLGA on Isabella Street. The tour is structured such that each of the ten stops may have two or three stories associated with that location, demonstrating the layered textures of our communities. Campbell-Higgins also notes that; “In addition to co-leading the rehearsal, Rachel E. Beattie and Douglas Hanes were of great help in providing research into parts of our community that had been underrepresented in the original script, which are incorporated into the updated tour.”
One highlight is the stop at the Alexander Wood statue to discuss his remarkable life in 19th century Toronto, moving through LGBTQ2+ Toronto history through the tabloid persecution of gays and lesbians (primarily) in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and development of the LGBTQ2+ community in the 50s and 60s, supported in part by the building of multiple dwelling apartment blocks such as City Park Apartments in 1954. These and many, many more stories are revealed in this tour.
This summer CLGA’s Community Engagement Committee will lead two, FREE public walking tours in association with Heritage Toronto. The date and time of the tours are Thursday, August 2n, 6:30 pm, and Thursday September 13th 6:30 pm – Rain or Shine. We meet at the AIDs Memorial in Barbara Hall Park at behind the 519 Church Street Community Centre, and wend our way through the village and arrive at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 34 Isabella Street.
Space is limited for this free heritage tour, please sign up here:
By: Rachel E. Beatie, Janet R Hethrington