Public History Award Nominees

This category recognizes outstanding work in English language films, exhibits, websites, mobile applications, and other public history projects.

The 2017 nominees are:

Matthew Blackett, Spacing

Ian Daffern, Bell Media

50 Objects that Define Toronto
(TV Series)

The five-part TV series 50 Objects That Define Toronto highlights everyday objects that defined Toronto’s character and played a role at significant historical moments. These objects demonstrate that Toronto’s history is full of unknown and unique stories. The 50 objects were selected from a larger list of over 350 objects submitted by some of the city’s well-known historians. An exceptional program, the TV show serves as a model for community TV.

Director & Editor:
Martin Edralin

Martin Edralin,
Dara Solomon (OJA)

Executive Producer: 
Lauren Corber

Visual Researcher:
Donna Bernardo-Ceriz

Building History: The Story of Benjamin Brown
(Short Film)

A major feature of the 2016 exhibition Benjamin Brown: Architect, was a short documentary film produced by the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) and directed by filmmaker Martin Edralin, titled Building History: The Story of Benjamin Brown. The 8-minute documentary positions Benjamin Brown within the architectural history of Toronto and demonstrates the significance of Brown’s career to the city’s built heritage.  It features contemporary and archival footage, as well as interviews with prominent local architects and architectural historians.  It was screened in the gallery during the exhibition, at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, and will soon appear on CBC’s documentary channel and at the Winnipeg Architecture+Design Film Festival.

Canadian National Exhibition
Karen Lynch

CNE Heritage

In 2014, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) started building a responsive website devoted to celebrating the heritage and stories of the fair. With a soft launch in August 2015, the majority of the content was added in 2016.  “A work in progress”, more archival images and materials are regularly digitized and posted to the site. chronicles the history of Toronto, Ontario, and Canada, beginning with the fair’s inception in 1879. It’s a snapshot showcasing the issues, interests, fashion, entertainment, advertisements, and technology through time.


Photographer & Author:
Michael Glassman

Radius Press Editions

Grossman’s Tavern – A Portrait
(Portraiture Essay)

Grossman’s Tavern is an iconic institution on Toronto’s music scene.  While similar projects would focus on musicians and music history, Grossman’s Tavern – A Portrait attempts to answer questions that are rarely asked— who are the people in the audience; what brings them here; and what binds them to this place? It took approximately four years to accumulate the photographic material and conduct the interviews; the result is a tribute to a place and a spirit—independent, warm, welcoming and sometimes wild—that still survives, and to the generations of fans that have made Grossman’s Tavern a Toronto music icon.


David Dworkind, Filmmaker and Timelapse
Devin Lund, Timelapse

Rafi Younger, Lanterra Developments Ltd.
Scott Weir, ERA Architects

Howard Street House

Howard Street House documents the relocation of 76 Howard Street, a characteristic example of a late-19th century house in Toronto, and a significant component of the conservation strategy for the north St. Jamestown neighbourhood. Using archival photographs, Goad’s Fire Insurance maps, and other heritage details, the film pieces together the neighbourhood history while also exposing viewers to the development context of the project, the complex technical feat of building relocation, and the pivotal importance of developing an overall conservation strategy for at-risk districts in Toronto.

Adrian Hayles

Commissioned by:
Downtown Yonge BIA

Historic Music Mural
(Public Art)

In the fall of 2016, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (DYBIA) commissioned Toronto mural artist Adrian Hayles to paint a 22-storey tribute to Toronto’s vaunted music history. The soaring mural covers the entire north face of the Toronto Community Housing building at 423 Yonge Street, and features the faces of 1950s and ‘60s music luminaries and marquees from legendary Yonge Street venues. The mural is part of DYBIA’s Music Strategy, and highlights the importance of preserving Toronto’s music heritage while bringing the community together to reflect on the Yonge Street neighbourhood.

Downtown Yonge BIA is a proud partner of Heritage Toronto’s Walking Tours

Morgan Cameron Ross
Old Toronto Series
(Video Series)

The Old Toronto Series started as a small Instagram account, but has since developed into a YouTube video series featuring brief Toronto historical vignettes. Launched in 2016, the videos are designed to be simple, accurate, and easily consumable media aimed at both conventional and unconventional Toronto topics—including the histories of Sneaky Dee’s and Dufferin Mall. Underwriting all of the videos is the belief that the more people know of their community, the stronger the community is.

Creator & Author:
Katherine Taylor

One Galʼs Toronto

Through her blog, One Gal’s Toronto, Katherine Taylor invites you to walk the streets of Toronto with her, back when its sidewalks were boardwalks, its roadways were woodblock, and both were treacherous.  The 19 blog posts published in 2016 – bookended by “Of Barbers, Hairdressers and the Dorenwalds” in January and “Christmas Catalogues” in December—unearth the stories of the city’s forgotten people and places. One Gal’s Toronto is driven by the thrill of finding the places in Toronto that have changed so much they would be unrecognizable to some, and rooting out the names of the men, women, and industries once housed within.

Ahmed Allahwala
Chris Berkowitz
Connie Guberman
Adon Irani
The Stories of UTSC: 1964-2014
(Online Exhibit)

The Stories of UTSC: 1964-2014 is an online exhibit documenting the rich and multi-faceted social history and community heritage of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) campus from its inception in the mid 60s to the present, through oral history and storytelling. An inter-generational and diverse collective of faculty, students, and community members collected 52 oral histories highlighting the themes of change and difference. People interviewed included students, graduates, faculty and staff from every decade since UTSC was incorporated, as well as campus neighbours, the wider Scarborough community, and even the halal hot dog vendor.

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Toronto Branch

Barry Veerkamp, Meta Strategies

(Digital Database)

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario – Toronto Branch (ACOTO) has made it easier to share information about Toronto buildings since re-launching TOBuilt, an open source online database in 2016. The first 7000 listings were photographed and researched by archivist Robert Krwaczyk, who was awarded honorary membership in the Ontario Association of Architects for his exceptional work. The site now has over 10,000 listings, and is growing every day as architects, community researchers, and heritage professionals make TOBuilt their own—using it to find and share information, posting portfolios, and answering more than just “who designed that building?”.

Jane French
Larry Ostola
Wayne Reeves

Juan Baquero, The Story Studio

Production Manager:
Sandra Shaul

Producer & Distributor:
Museum and Heritage Services, City of Toronto

Toronto’s Great War Attic: 10 Short Films
(Short Films)

At a series of public gatherings hosted in the fall of 2014, 100 people shared 1,000 family keepsakes related to the First World War.  Curators and historians representing City of Toronto Museums and Heritage Services (MHS) and York University facilitated the discussions and documented objects through photography and video. MHS produced Toronto’s Great War Attic – Ten Short Films to highlight the diversity and poignancy of 10 individual stories, and to get to the emotional core of each artifact.  The films premiered at TIFF and launched on the City of Toronto website in 2016.

Paolo Granata, Visiting Professor University of Toronto

University of Toronto – The Toronto School Initiative
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology

The Toronto School
(Cross-media Initiative)

The Toronto School is an international cross-media initiative – a conference, an exhibition, a series of cultural events, a mobile app, and a website – presented by the University of Toronto in conjunction with a network of high profile academic and cultural institutions. The initiative’s main goal is not merely to pay homage to the Toronto School and its heritage, but to understand, and try to advance, the conditions of provocative intellectual innovation that it stood for.


Paul Bishop
Daniel Panneton
Marisa Strom

The Ward: Representations and Realities, 1890-1950

Using a combination of photography, material cultural, and recorded oral history, The Ward: Representations and Realities, 1890-1950 contrasted the slum voyeurism and reform-inspired projects of Anglo-Torontonians with the internal cultures and support systems of St. John’s Ward’s immigrant communities to emphasize the influence that perspective and power have on shaping historical memory. The exhibit was mounted at Campbell House Museum from March to April, 2016 as part of Myseum of Toronto’s first annual Intersections Festival.

Learn more about the history of The Ward on Heritage Toronto’s Walking Tour

Marc Serpa Francoeur, Lost Time Media
Robinder Uppal, Lost Time Media
The World in Ten Blocks
(Interactive Web Documentary)

Released in four weekly instalments, The World in Ten Blocks allows users to virtually explore multicultural Bloorcourt, and provides a glimpse of some of the stories of sacrifice and hardship, triumph and joy that make up the world’s most diverse city. Through intimate interviews and personal archives users can examine how immigration intersected with different facets of the neighbourhood, including topics as diverse as the First and Second World Wars, the evolution of language diversity, historic theatres, the Toronto Public Library, and public transportation.


Neil Brochu, Collections and Outreach, City of Toronto
Richard Gerrard, City of Toronto

Assistance from:
Peter Popkin, Senior Archaeologist – Stantec (Formerly Golder & Associates)
Eva MacDonald, Archaeological Services Inc. (ASI)

Market Gallery, City of Toronto Museum

Unearthing Toronto’s Oldest Marketplace: The Archaeology of the North St. Lawrence Market

Few archaeological digs in Toronto have caught the public imagination like the excavation of the North St. Lawrence Market, and this excitement was captured in The Market Gallery exhibit “Unearthing Toronto’s Oldest Marketplace: The Archaeology of the North St. Lawrence Market,” on display from November 2016-March 2017. The exhibit allowed people to track the dig in real time. As the archaeology progressed, artifacts representing each of the six time periods unearthed were added to the exhibit fresh from the site.  Archaeological finds were presented in conjunction with videos of experts, historical maps, art works, and archival photographs.