Imagine walking through your neighbourhood and being able to pull back the curtains of time as you go. What do seniors remember from decades ago? What family anecdotes do they have to tell? What used to be where that condo now stands? What did newcomers experience when they settled in Toronto?
These are some of the questions Back Lane Studios hope to answer with their newest project, Mapping our Memories. Here’s their plan: Build a team to collect memories and historic information about our neighbourhoods in the west part of Toronto, including ours. Then, make the material easily accessible through links to digital maps. They will be focusing for now on Roncesvalles and High Park, Parkdale, Swansea, the Junction and Weston, with
some forays into Etobicoke.
Back Lane Studios decided to embark on this project when one of their videos, Growing up in the Junction, gained more than 2,000 YouTube views in fairly short order. In the documentary, Lois Broad, 94, who has a remarkable memory, reminisces about places and childhood experiences in west-end Toronto. The video showed the strong interest people have in what life in their neighbourhoods used to be like, and they decided to create a way to
continue collecting and organizing seniors’ memories geographically.
Mapping our Memories is supported by funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. They are using the grant to pay instructors and cover the cost of developing the website mapping platform. Most of the work is being done by volunteers. Current funding runs until February, 2022 however, they are hoping to build a team of volunteers, involve interested partners and seek further funding to continue this as a long-term Back Lane Studios’ project with expanded geographic reach.
If you want to help or support, here is their contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org.