The Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum is a busy place. Every weekend our volunteers welcome people from the neighbourhood, the city, and tourists from Europe, Asia and Australia. As many as 350 visitors have come through the museum in a 4 ½ hour period. The volunteer staff is made up of local residents, culture-lovers from around the city, and students - from Pathways to Education, students from the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, and from local schools. Some volunteers live out of the area, coming in from as far afield as Kitchener, Waterloo, London, Peterborough and Hamilton.
Second Empire Victorian dollhouse:The two most popular items on exhibit are the Riverdale Zoo panel and the lovely, hand-crafted dollhouse. (PHOTOS OF DOLLHOUSE).This Second Empire Victorian Dollhouse was built in 1983 by Master Craftsman John Edward Morris Clark of Tottenham, Ontario for his younger daughter, Natalie's, tenth birthday. John is also a custom Gun Maker specializing in 18th century flintlock rifles pistols and fowling pieces; and manufactures wooden propellers for vintage aircraft. [www.clarkindustries.on.ca]. The dollhouse plans were obtained from a woodcrafter in Massachusetts, USA, and it took John roughly 400-hours to complete. The siding and shingles are made from pine strip wood and tongue depressors. The windows and doors were purchased from The Little Dollhouse Company, Toronto, which is the largest and oldest dollhouse and miniature store in Canada. The dollhouse represents the type of home that would have been built in a small town or rural area of Ontario in the 1870s and 1880s. It’s a single-family home, made of wood, featuring a striking tower, iron work, porches, and, most distinctively, a steeply sloped “mansard roof.” These are all characteristic features of the Second Empire style that influenced Victorian architecture all across Ontario, Canada, Britain, and, of course, France where the “Second Empire” referred to the reign of Napoleon III. The Second Empire style was also very influential in Toronto. Above all, the mansard roof identifies these buildings. Second Empire architecture in Toronto, and Cabbagetown - Regent Park, was quite a “grand” style, although we see smaller, but still impressive, examples on our own streets. Originally, most buildings shown here were residences, but they have been transformed into other uses.
A Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum Lecture
Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost is passionate about her subject. The Governor General Award-winning author of I’ve Got A Home in Glory Land delivered the first Cabbagetown Regent Park fundraising lecture on March 28th, 2009. Speaking in the restored glory of The Lamb House at 156 Winchester, Karolyn kept her audience entranced, inspired, and wanting to know more about the heroic tale of fugitive slaves Thornton and Lucie Blackburn. The Blackburns arrived in Toronto 175 years ago and had a distinct impact on the new city and the lives of other fugitive slaves. And, yes, there are Cabbagetown connections … but you’ll have to read her book to find out what they are. For more about Karolyn, check out her website at http://www.homeingloryland.com/.
Serve Canada Youth Service Organization
SERVE places young people aged 17-24 into meaningful leadership roles in their communities. The Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum was very fortunate to collaborate with Serve Canada and work with a team of youth who took on a project, RITES OF SPRING. This initiative was linked with Regent Park’s Diversity and Settlement Committee, and the Toronto Christian Resource Centre; and culminated in a two-panel exhibit. These gave the history and traditions of four spring customs: Wicca, the largest of the Neopagan religions; the history and practice of Easter; Passover; and Nowrvz, a Persian celebration performed in countries such as Turkmenistan, Kazakhshn, Kashmir and Afghanistan. These informative, colourful and well-thought out displays were produced by Kevin E. Langille, Rickey Charles, Serelle Meloney, Kaif Khan, Gordon Ng, Christine Williams with program coordinator, Aramita De Melo; and currently can be seen at the Residence, Riverdale Farm. The students enjoyed learning about different cultural practices during their research. All concerned agreed that the working experience was excellent and we are planning more partnership projects together.
The Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum has partnered with a number of academic institutions. Lorenzo Somma was a 4th year undergraduate at the University of Toronto, completing an Honours Degree in Science with Biology and History double majors, when he was assigned to the Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum under the mentorship of author/historian, Sally Gibson. Lorenzo is considering continuing his studies in either history or medicine, and the current project was an experience in aiding his decision for his future career goals. The project for the Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum required Lorenzo to research a variety of medical institutions in the area including the Toronto General Hospital (Gerrard Street Location), Trinity Medical College and the Women's Medical College. The research delved into the financial, political and societal support each institution enjoyed in the period under study. In addition, the connection that the institutions had with each other and with the community was also a goal of the research. The Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum will be mounting an exhibition on the medical history of this area under the mentorship of Sally Gibson, which will partially be based on Lorenzo’s research and final paper; along with a number of medical artifacts donated by local Dr. D’Cuhna. Monica Dikkes and Amanda Pettitt were third year Honours Planning students at the University of Waterloo. Their project entitled “Using a Museum Exhibit as a Tool for Child Participation: Children in Planning and Social Concepts” was developed in partnership with the Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum with enthusiastic support from Senga McLean, Recreationist at the Riverdale Farm. The exhibit was mounted at the Residence, Riverdale Farm in the Spring of 2009. Monica and Amanda write: “Interactive museum exhibits provide unique settings for play. Play can both unlock a child’s imagination and imitate real life. It promotes cooperation, team building, logical thinking, creativity and skills. Our exhibit was an effective educational tool that provided information about the history of the community, planning and awareness and promotes healthier lifestyles. The exhibit serves as a gateway for conversations about a child’s community.” Overall, the exhibit was a great start for promoting awareness about the urban and rural environment and the planning process. Further projects like this will be used to promote children’s participation and involvement in planning and be exhibited at the Residence.