Spacing’s gift to Toronto

Today, on Toronto’s 175th anniversary, Spacing is happy to give our city a present. Actually, it’s 175 presents.

Spacing has teamed up with our cast of photographers to donate 175 photographs to the City of Toronto’s Archives.

The intended donation (Spacing and the Archives are still working out the finer details) consists of photos from our magazine and images that have appeared on each photographer’s photoblog. The reason for the gift is simple: many local photographers have contributed an unbelievable collection of images to the Archives for all of us to gain a greater understanding of Toronto’s history. Spacing‘s editors thought it would be selfish and inconsiderate of us if we didn’t do the same thing for future generations. While our collection of 175 photos is modest, our hope is to continue to add a handful of photos after each issue is published.

These are the photographers who have generously donated between 5 to 15 photos each:

• Sam Javanrouh:
• Miles Storey:
• Rannie Turingan:
• Bouke Salverda:
• Adam Krawesky:
• Gayla Trail:
• Davin Risk:
• Payam Rajabi:
• Matt O’Sullivan:
• Hamish Grant:
• Tanja Tiziana Burdi:
• Jerrold Litwinenko:
• Sean Galbraith:
• Roger Cullman:
• David Michael Lamb:
• Yvonne Bambrick:
• Matthew Blackett:

Toronto’s photo archives have been populated by a small but prolific group of photographers. Among them: William James, often referred to as Canada’s first photojournalist, and his family, who have over 12,000 images in their collection (always labelled with “fonds 1244”); Nearly 26,000 images from the former City of Toronto Works Department, taken by City Photographer Arthur Goss and his staff between 1911 and 1940; Over 2,000 images documenting the construction of the Yonge subway line; and the Alexandra Studios collection of over 9,000 photos of Toronto landmarks, dignitaries, and events.

photo by Sam Javanrouh


  1. This is excellent. I’m so happy that people had the foresight to take and preserve all of these photos from the past, and that people continue to contribute.

    What’s the process for contributing to the archives, anyway? With the huge amount of photographs taken these days, I imagine the archives wouldn’t want everyone just burying them with photos. I would imagine they prefer images that are high-res, dated, and details of the location/people/events known.

    Selecting according to subject matter might even be tricky. For example, a picture of a few cars, people, and storefronts on Bloor St. 50 years ago may have seemed boring to other people at the time, but it’s totally fascinating to see it now and examine what has changed or stayed the same.

  2. And it also means immortality for the photographers.

    Which reminds me of how many of the Alexandra Studios photos in the archives seem to have the photographers in them!

    I get the sense that in a lot of cases the archive photos were placed in there to document a specific event… the arrival of a dignitary… the opening of a piece of infrastructure (or construction, in the case of the Yonge and B/D subways)… there is a large series documenting the properties that would have been impacted by the Spadina Expressway… the Miss Toronto pageant seems to be heavily represented (and the Alexandra Studios photographers always seem to make their way into a photo with the winner)… etc.

    Others document a problem… photos of the old-school QEW at Dixie Road to document the location where a collision occurred… photos of congestion on Yonge Street downtown to make a case for a subway.

    I don’t get the sense that many of them were taken just to document the way the everyday city “was”, although that is a great side benefit of them now, 50 years or more later.

  3. What a great idea, there are also some very interesting “Then and Now” photos – the ‘then usually coming from the City Archives – on the Urban Toronto site, in particular in the thread which is one of several threads in their City Photos ‘forum’.

  4. Hey, I feel so incredibly disappointed that I missed out on the opportunity to participate in the contribution. I only heard about this yesterday while listening to CBC radio. Is it still too late to be a part of this?

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