Immigrants in ‘The Ward’ – an archival look at TORONTO’s most notorious slum

‘The Ward’, formerly St. John’s Ward, occupied several blocks bounded by Bay, University, Queen and College Streets.  It was vast and ugly – largely populated by successive waves of new immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Refugees from the Irish Potato Famine, the Underground Railroad, various European wars and uprisings, Chinese railroad builders all settled here.  For a while, it was home to  TORONTO’s Jewish community.

Picturing Immigrants in the Ward – has opened at the City of Toronto Archives, 255 Spadina Road.  Curator – Susan Dobson

Photos of The Ward from City of Toronto Archives.  In two of the pictures, you’ll see Old City Hall.  Parts of the slum occupied what is now Nathan Phillips Square – the forecourt of New City Hall.

WARD2WARD3WARD4WARD7WARD5WARD8WARD9WARD10WARD6<That’s Old City Hall in the background>

Chevalier d’Éon (1728-1810) – first known painting of a transvestite

What better time – Gay Pride Weekend – to hang up a painting of Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont.  We can’t say whether or not he was gay, but the Chevalier d’Eon certainly enjoyed dressing up in women’s clothing.

The chevalier had quite a career – French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason.  His first 49 years were spent as a man, the last 33 years as a woman. Upon death, a council of physicians discovered that d’Éon’s body was anatomically male.

This 18th century painting was sold in New York to a British gallery as a “woman in a feathered hat”.  Not so.  It turned out to be our chevalier, the earliest known painting of a transvestite.

The portrait now hangs in the British National Portraits Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square.

TORONTO’s ‘brutal’ inverted pyramid, 222 Jarvis Street is now environmentally friendly

222 Jarvis Street is a tough building to love.  But it’s been chosen by the Ontario Government for a $100 million retrofit – one of the largest such projects in North America.  At 58,336 square metres of gross floor area, #222 is the first under the province’s Toronto Accommodation Plan, a 10-year initiative to modernize and reduce the carbon footprint of most Ontario government office buildings in the city, the majority of which are 40 to 60 years old.

The finished building will achieve LEED Gold status and stop 4,930 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere each year.