50 years in Canada

It’s been 50 years since I came to Canada, newly married to John Phillips.He attempted for months to get  conscientious objector status so that he could serve for two years doing non-military service. This process involved defining his personal definition of a supreme being and proving his beliefs with public evidence. He wasn’t successful, so we dropped out of the Quaker college that we were attending and moved to Canada.

(See the video Vietnam: Canada’s Shadow War for background about the Vietnam War and Canada’s support to both the war and the war resisters. In 2016, the  film, directed by Andy Blicq,  won the Best History Documentary in the Canadian Screen Awards I am one of the featured interviews with photos by John and me.)    http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episodes/vietnam-canadas-shadow-war

We settled on Baldwin Street in Toronto and got our first jobs creating the Baldwin Street Club with the Company of Young Canadians teaching photography and writing to children with learning disabilities and teaching teenagers at Point Blank School, an alternative school.

Toronto, 1968

It was Centennial year, 1967, a very optimistic time. It felt that almost any idea that we would try would work. We started the Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography. The first exhibition was children’s photography with their poetry and stories displayed.  We also co-founded Snowflake  Day Care  Centre for Baldwin neighbourhood children.

The gallery moved to several locations and left  Baldwin St in 1980.

Six Of The Best – Photographic History

On June 21st, I’ll be one of six speakers at the Photographic Historical Society meeting My topic is the history of the Baldwin Street Gallery.My involvement with the Photographic Historical Society began in the 1970’s as a charter member. In the past few years, I have again gotten involved having a table at the photo fairs and attending meetings. It’s well worth becoming a member.  The magazine is   informative and friendly. http://phsc.ca

 June 21,  7:00pm FREE,

North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St , Toronto (conveniently indoor walk from North York Centre subway)

Jane’s Walk “Power, People & Possibilities”

Social and Environmental Justice in South Riverdale, Leslieville and Riverside

Saturday May 2 11:00 am Meet at the Dark Horse (630 Queen Street E. @ Carroll Street.) The walk stops at five spots in the community and lasts about 1.5  hours 

Jane’s Walks 2015 are  walking tours that build community by getting  neighbours together and by discussing local urban issues.  There are about 200 Jane’s Walks in the Greater Toronto Area during a three day Jane’s Walk Festival May 1-3. Other cities in other parts of the world are doing walks too. See Jane’s Walks

I’ll be one of the “special guests”  of  Councillor Paula Fletcher. First you will visit two parks and the Ralph Thornton Centre and then head  to the church-yard of the Queen St. E. Presbyterian Church (Queen St E. at Carlaw Ave.) beside the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. It’s not a long walk from the coffee shop to the finish. I will look forward to chatting with you about the  “get the lead out” struggle and success.

To me Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) has been a legend who I have looked up to for 50 years. She authored many books including The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In 1968, she left the United States and settled in Toronto.

At that time, John Phillips and I had a gallery on Baldwin Street just two blocks south of the University of Toronto. Jane Jacob sent students to interview us about our attitude towards wide sidewalks. Really, I had never thought about sidewalks one way or another. But after living on the street and being asked by different students, I became aware of the importance of sidewalks to the building of  our very tight community on Baldwin Street.  I  awed Jane Jacobs as she voice her opinions and took on many of  our city’s planning and transportation issues.  She kept questioning and challenging throughout her life.

It is a delight to be asked by Paula Fletcher to be a “special guest” on a Jane’s Walk within our neighbourhood . Paula asked me because I became obsessed with pollution and health from a lead smelter (Canada Metals). It took almost the entire community of South Riverdale to get involved, to get the children’s blood tested, pollution control devices installed, contaminated soil replaced, and houses and schools cleaned. But then when this was all done, the company wanted to expand.  So don’t get me started. I’ll start ranting about the company not paying for the clean up. They finally closed and the film industry is on the site.

Enough said. Join a Jane’s Walk.  Not everybody is as lead obsessed as me. So check out the others. You may prefer skateboarding in the financial district.

May 27, 2012 Photo Fair

Bennett and I will be at the Photographic Historical Society Photography Fair.  Our friend Peter Sinclair, a 3D photography enthusiast, is giving us a lift there which is a treat. The fair is low key with good deals. and a super  chance to talk photography, sell some things, buy some things and enjoy the day. Here is an example of a few fine pieces that we will bring. They’re photogravures from Camera Work by Frederick H Evans.

For info about location CLICK HERE



See us at the Toronto Old Paper Show

Sunday, April 1, my son Bennett and I will be heading to the Old Paper Show at Artscape Wychwood Barns. We’re selling stunning Camera Works gravures. These photogravures were printed on tissue thin paper  with the fine tonal range of a fine print. So far, we have chosen some by Eduard Steichen  and Karl Struss, but we aren’t limiting ourselves to photography. There will be a selection of gravure prints of drawings by Abraham Walkowitz.

If you let us know what you want, we’ll see if we have it.

Click here for link to Old Paper Show info

Photographic Historical Society of Canada

Photographic Society of Canada

Annual photo fair

Being a sales person is not my skill. It is nice to make a sale but it is the discussions that surround the sale that I enjoy – such as occurred today at the Photographic Historical Society of Canada’s photo fair.  Pin-hole photography, 3D, the American civil war, Asian photography,   identification of photographs, types of cameras, printers, scanners – all in one day!

With help from three generations of our family, we stuffed an assortment of photographica from daguerreotypes, and ambrotypes; baby brownies and video cameras; to Ansel Adams note cards into boxes and headed to the Woodbridge Soccer Stadium to participate. Bennett, my son, and I spent many evenings spread over the last month talking about photography, deciding what to sell, what to keep, what to toss.

Yesterday, Zenon, my grandson, came over, helped organize and photographed the items that we decided to sell. This way we have photos of items that we once used. We tried to get the digital camera to photograph us when we winked. I took pictures of myself reflected in my no-longer-used safelights and staged others to capture the filter tones and at least one shadow picture – a growing digital self portrait collection. Multi-tasking?  (or just plain fun!)

Long ago memories returned of selling similar items at photo fair at Disney World when my sons were little. We sold plenty but I bought a glass-slide projector the size of a two-year old. We used it once about twenty-five years ago at a glass slides with tea party at the Baldwin St. Gallery. Anyone want to have a glass-slide party this summer?

But first back to this years fair, this morning bright and early, Morgan (who was actually born at the Baldwin St. Gallery of Photography) cheerfully arrived, even though he had a busy day planned. In between, he willingly packed the car and drove us to and from the fair.

An enthusiastic line had gathered and rushed in searching for bargains. Sales were quick for the first hour. (Remember this if you, come next year – come early! About a third of the vendors don’t stay until the end.)

We also bought. My favorite being a 3D book about the civil war. Bennett got some frames to put photos in and some earphones (not that I saw the connection of selling earphones at a photo fair)

The most interesting piece I saw at the fair was a dignified daguerreotype of blacks – It was not from the collections known as “slave daguerreotypes,” which were images that were taken to “prove” differences between blacks and whites.

Usually we sell and sometimes trade images but we brought more equipment this time. Displayed among our things were a manual-single-lens-reflex camera purchased years ago as part of  auction lot, which was so big, I could barely hold it.  No takers to buy it, but now, through conversation, I understand the camera and appreciate it. At a show like PHSoC, a collector searching for obscure items will know what you have.


So not only did the event provide an enjoyable preparation time, a little extra money from sales, a few choice “new” possessions, I learned new things.

Today’s fair was a success for me – one that isn’t a measurable success – like a business goal but one that succeeds by meeting the need to pursue an intense interest – photography. To be able to share this interest with my family – wow!

Bennett and I have already decided to set up a table at the photo fair in October. If you want to know more, email me and I’ll send you an announcement. We are already setting aside some things for our fellow photo friends.

After the fair, Bennett went straight to sleep on my couch because he works nights and had to leave for work for a night shift.  My inner home looked like it has been deep searched – barely a path is visible. A 7:00 Skype call would keep my video lens aimed closely on me, pretending a clean background.

First though, I wrote the blog but it turned out that  I couldn’t get the photos from my new camera. Who had the little devise last?  This sharing in the family of tiny items among three households makes hunting a challenge. It was found at Morgan’s home in a cloth bag with my Mini- Master Mind and mini Scrabble.   I went to his house to retrieve it. The family – Morgan, Lidia, Zenon, Lukie, and Zoriana were still gathered around the table from dinner and close to seeing who wanted to read and who wanted to play cards. I joined.

Then I learned -from a grandchild’s knowledge –  that I can simply put the smart card into the slot in the computer. I didn’t even need the devise. (Family, yes! – I still need them)   My son says, “if we want to know something about the computer, you have to ask his kids.”

Who teaches who? We teach each other!

Instead of going to sleep last night as I should, curiosity and enthusiasm captured me. I attempted research on the black daguerreotype  image that I had seen at the photofair and found some close possibilities. While having morning coffee, I thought of the possible  museum for this piece and will follow up.

FINAL WORDS  Just as I was leaving the fair another aspect of my life was touched by a sign on the wall about goals. Recently I took an amazing social media course with the Professional Writers Association of Canada. It’s top-notch group that I am active in and goal setting was part of our discussions. To get this photo,  an understanding  photo dealer needed to remove photos covering some of the wording.  I realized the photos were taken by the Canadian master portrait photographer, Karsh, but I wanted my little digital photo of  the sign. The dealer’s help was appreciated and a few seconds later, I had the photo. Ah digital!