President’s Report

The year 2012 has been an exciting one for the society as we celebrated our good fortune in receiving two Heritage Toronto awards, the Community Heritage Award and the Member’s Choice Award, selected by Heritage Toronto members.

Our lecture series kicked off in January as local journalist and film  historian Eric Veillette delved into that most fascinating Junction tales, the growth of our theatre district.  Author Anne Birch was our guest in February, speaking about her novel Settlement about scandal and intrigue in early Toronto.  Photographer Gary Blakely joined us in March.  Gary is the inventor of the Zeitgag phone app, an interactive city map of Toronto displaying historical photographs.    In April, John McKenty entertained with the CCM story — the iconic Canadian company so pivotal in the revival of Junction fortunes at the turn of the century.   In May, the dean of Canada’s historical food writers, Dorothy Duncan, fed us and regaled us with morsels from our culinary past.  We reconvened in September with a unique exploration of Canadian rail and comedy history with a double NFB bill of Buster Keaton in Canada, featuring the Rail Rodder and Buster Keaton Rides Again among the very last film exploits of the great comedian both Canadian productions.  Amy Lavender Harris, author of Imagining Toronto, was our guest in October.  Ms. Harris, a Junction resident, provided a fascinating insight into Toronto and the Junction in fiction. In November we varied the fare again with the Junction Monarchy Debate.  I was joined by Tom Freda, National Director of the Citizens for a Canadian Republic as we debated the issue of whether to maintain the monarchy in Canada.  For the record, it was a draw.  December of course saw our annual Christmas/Solstice Social and this year we reminisced about the society’s past.

Our AGM in April ushered in some new faces to supplement our intrepid reliables.  I was happy to welcome returning executive officers, Ron Clark, Recording Secretary, Ron Courtney, Treasurer, and David Wencer as Corresponding Secretary.  John Rudge came on board as an able Membership Secretary and Pat Trusty, already a pivotal member of our team as editor of the Leader and Recorder took on further duties as Vice President.

Also in April, WTJHS volunteer Hope Humphrey organized the second incarnation of the Junction History Mash-Up, this time at Mountview Alternative Public School working with students at Humberside Collegiate Institute, where the event had originated.  WTJHS and CPR veteran Raymond Kennedy kept listeners spellbound with tales of the railway.

Outside of the lecture series, I was happy to give the Writers of the Junction Reading and Walking Tour in April for Toronto Reads at the Annette Street Library.

In June we launched James Ellis: Architect of the Junction, a walking tour and web site created in partnership with Congregation Knesseth Israel, and sponsored by the Trillium Foundation and Heritage Toronto.  Both components were a major success.  We have expanded the web site and will be offering the walking tour again in 2013.

Volunteer film maker Andrew Brown began work on an ambitious documentary on the Heintzman factory, which he has since completed (2013.)

We are proud to congratulate members Madeleine McDowell and Gib Goodfellow who were both presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for service to their community.

On October 9, members of the executive attended the Heritage Toronto awards celebrations at Koerner Hall in the Royal Conservatory of Music in conjunction with the William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture, where I was overjoyed to accept the two awards mentioned above.  Host Mary Ito spoke of WTJHS’ “impressive, diligent and rigorous documenting of the built and cultural history of its neighbourhood in a sustained way over may years.  The jury commended the Society’s approach to leveraging and sharing resources as a model for others to emulate.”

We produced a special double issue of the Leader and Recorder to celebrate the society’s thirty years of excellence and I was happy to list the contributions of many of our volunteer’s in that issues President’s Report.


-Neil Ross, President