In January 2014, the Working Women Community Centre invited Councillor Bailão and Layton, MP Andrew Cash, and representatives from the Bloor Gladstone Library, Bloorcourt BIA, City of Toronto and community to explore the idea of installing plaques in honour of long-serving shop keepers and organizations. Over the course of 2014 & 2015, these stakeholders met, talked, worked together, canvassed shop keepers, and, as a result, 41 plaques were manufactured by the City. With the active support of Bloorcourt BIA and the City, the plaques were installed in Spring 2015. Each plaque bears the names of individuals, their stores and the year they established their business. In addition to making the plaques a reality, we planned a celebration of our diverse, unique Bloorcourt history with two Jane's Walks and an evening of music and art.
Jane's Walks – May 2nd & May 3rd 2015
• Jane's Walks, international in scope, are free, walking tours, inspired by urban planner Jane Jacobs. Our first Walk, Building Bloor on May 2nd , was led by Alec Keefer of the Toronto Architectural Conservatory featuring original archival research on the unique architectural and social history. Alec Keefer states that this stretch of Bloor, between Dufferin and Christie, features the best unbroken collection of two and three story brick buildings in Toronto.
• The second walk, "Keeping Bloor" on May 3rd, featured many of the 41 shop keepers being honoured with plaques. Shop keepers and their families to came out of their shops and answered the questions of "Why here on Bloor?"; "What do you remember about your first day?"; and "What's your favourite story about Bloor Street West?"
• Shop keepers provided original photographs featured in their shop windows.
• Besides these plaques, Dionne Brand's original poem, written for this project, will be read. Dionne's poem will installed with bronze lettering on the benches at Bloor and Dufferin Streets in September 2015.
• Finally, our community celebration was held on May 2nd at St. Archangel Michael Church's social hall. This evening featured the shop keepers's stories – both long time and new time, documentary filmmakers of the World in Ten Blocks, Storefront Theatre's Claire Burns, and many of Andrew Cash's local artist friends like Feist, David Bindi, Skydiggers and more.
Marcie Ponte, Executive Director, Working Women Community Centre