The Difference Between a Local Historian and an Academic Historian

Local history is a very democratic kind of practice, drawing on community histories (e.g., in the local history collections of our branch libraries), family history, genealogy and oral history. The best local history relies on meticulous and careful use of original and secondary sources as well as ongoing discussion with professional historians. But local historians have limited resources. Not everyone has the money to get those letters behind the name. We do not have access to the records, the peer-review process, conferences and journals of the academic historian. We rely on sources and our works are published informally – on blogs, Facebook groups, etc. My peers are those who read my posts and blogs and respond. And I am very grateful to you. But I rely on sources and sources are not always right.

Leslieville Roots: The Roothams

I wonder how many in our neighbourhood have Red Seal builders in their family trees? There is a small clue in this rather mundane article from the Toronto Star of October 25, 1917. Lewis Rootham was a contractor who built many of the houses on the lower of Woodfield, Connaught and neighbouring streets. But heContinue reading “Leslieville Roots: The Roothams”

Balmy Beach Postcards

By Joanne Doucette I love collecting these old postcards. Most are from my collection though some are no longer in my file of old fragile paper things. Due to the rarity many go from that drawer in my desk to libraries and archives. Some I also give away as Christmas stocking stuffers for friends. IContinue reading “Balmy Beach Postcards”

George Leslie: Let’s go to the Ex

By Joanne Doucette George Leslie was also one of the founders of the “Ex” – the Provincial Exhibition, forerunner of the Canadian National Exhibition (C.N.E.).  He showed his seeds there in 1858 and continued to exhibit over the years, winning many prizes. When the Provincial Exhibition incorporated in 1879 George Leslie Jr. was one ofContinue reading “George Leslie: Let’s go to the Ex”

October: The Month from Hell

By October 12, the hospitals were triaging, turning away patients they thought might have a chance of survival or just accepting patients on a first-come-first-served basis. Doctors and nurses were not seeing those we would think would be least likely to survive: elderly, frail people and young children and infants. Those who were dying were, overwhelmingly, young and healthy men and women, in all neighbourhoods including older areas in the East End such as Riverside, Leslieville and Todmorden and new neighbourhoods spreading across the farm fields of the Ashbridges, Charles Coxwell Small, the Sammons, Cosburns and others. Even the new cottage communities along the Beach were not spared.

October 6: I hear the train a-coming…about 20 feet above me!

This series of photographs will take you on a trip from downtown Toronto to Main Street on the new Toronto Viaduct, a raised railbed that lifted the train high above the city streets, eliminating several of the most dangerous level crossings such as the one at Queen near DeGrassi Street.

October 4th in history

It was a fine autumnal morning (October 4th) when I put my equipage in motion from Queenston towards York, accompanied by a friend and a favourite pointer. The diary of traveller Lieutenant Francis Hall as he travelled from Queenston (near Niagara-on-the-Lake) to York, published in 1818. This British army officer had served in some ofContinue reading “October 4th in history”