Picturing the Ward

Commissioned by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) on behalf of the Province of Ontario, Picturing the Ward is inspired by the unique history of this provincially owned site, which was once part of St. John’s Ward (the Ward), where many of Toronto’s immigrants and migrants first settled. This exhibit invites you to discover this historic neighbourhood through the words and life stories of former Ward residents and their descendants.

The Toronto Ward Museum, the city’s new museum of migration, dedicated to telling the life stories of migrants to the area, collected and curated all of the oral histories and archival research for the exhibit. Drawing inspiration from the site’s multicultural heritage, this visually dynamic exhibit showcases a collection of images of these artifacts, as well as the personal stories and photographs from six Torontonians who trace their ancestral roots to the historic neighbourhood. Picturing the Ward explores issues of belonging, family, labour, citizenship and identity, and speaks to the shared experiences of migrants who left their countries of origin to look for new opportunities in Toronto.

Picturing the Ward’s visual components were a combination of family photos shared by Ward descendants, archival imagery, as well as site specific artwork that incorporated artifacts recovered during IO’s archaeological excavation, and family heirlooms contributed by the Ward descendants. Toronto-based PA System, an acclaimed artist duo, created the artwork, which includes images of artifacts recovered during IO’s archaeological excavation, as well as objects and family heirlooms contributed by the Ward descendants and former residents. The artists have used cyanotype, a turn-of-the-century photographic printing process resembling an X-ray, to create this unique and exciting work, as well as sign painter enamel also used during the same period.

The work was launched on December 8, 2016 and will be accessible to all members of the public until March 2018. For full exhibit content, please visit the Toronto Ward Museum Website.

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