<ALBERT JACQUES FRANCK working in his studio, 90 Hazelton Avenue, Yorkville>
Painter HAROLD TOWN in his 1974 book “Albert Franck – Keeper of The Laneways” wrote: “What makes Albert Franck’s contribution unique is the fact that he was not pursuing the barbarians of the new or defending the crusty antiquarians of the old, he was following his heart.”
And his heart lay in the ramshackle backstreet laneways of TORONTO. HAROLD TOWN: “What Franck saw and recorded years ago, when it was fashionable to leave this city denouncing our provincial ways, has become a holy cause, a solid fact of political life and a civic example through all of North America.”
ALBERT JACQUES FRANCK was born in Middelburg, Holland. He arrived in Montréal in 1926 at the age of 27; died in TORONTO in 1973. ALBERT FRANCK’s work can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Toronto Hart House, the McMichael Gallery and many other public and private collections around the world.
<PHOTO ABOVE – My Cabbagetown laneway after a blizzard, December/2014>
To really know TORONTO, take a stroll or bike ride through its laneways. There’s a vast network of them downtown and, by choosing the right one, you can learn a great deal about the city’s history.
Opposite – a simple carport on Flos Williams Lane, which runs behind Parliament Street. It has a past. The sign reads “this carport is built of recycled materials. The wood rafters were floor joists in the old Toronto Aethenium Club, 169 Church Street at Shuter, which was built in 1891 as a gentlemen’s club. It became the Labor Temple from 1904 to 1967, and has recently been redeveloped as the 28 storey ‘Jazz’ condominium building”
The sign – created by the carport’s owner – goes on to say that the siding, fence and roof decking are Douglas Fir and Hemlock, and were salvaged from the Joseph Seagram Distillery in Waterloo, Ontario.
As for FLOS WILLIAMS, she was born and raised in Cabbagetown, wrote three novels and numerous short stories, moved out west and became one of Western Canada’s strongest women writers. Her novels dramatized the experiences of immigrants building new lives in the harsh Canadian rural environment.