Civic Scenery, Civic Statuary

Neighbours by Joe Rosenthal

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shaun Merritt begins a new column on public art in Toronto, looking at what we have, where it is, and some of the stories behind it.

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One day while looking into the history of Toronto I came across a fascinating piece on the CBC’s website created by radio host Mike Smee and his friend Alan Skeoch, my history teacher from Parkdale Collegiate and a regular columnist on “Radio Noon.” The site featured walking tours of the Toronto islands, the Beach,¬† Sunnyside, and the numerous installations of public art on University Avenue. “The Art of the Avenue,” as they called it, describes the stories behind the artwork and is the inspiration behind this current endeavour to catalogue Toronto’s Public Art, some that may be overlooked as we pass through the city.

The first exhibit of public art is entitled¬† “Neighbours” by artist Joe Rosenthal. The work is located at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. It is made of bronze and was installed in 2001.

Artist Joe Rosenthal was born in Romania in 1921. He came to Canada in 1927 and served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 1942-1945. He studied at the Ontario College of Art and continued his learning on extensive sketching trips through the Northwest Territories, Mexico, Cuba, England, Holland, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.His work has been recognized with awards from the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council, and the Toronto Outdoor Exhibition.  He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and the Ontario Society of Arts.

photos by Shaun Merritt.


  1. That’s some beautiful scenery in Toronto. I really find the monuments on University Avenue and Queen’s Park Circle inspiring. That monumental quality to public space is quite beautiful. It would be great if it lived on in new spaces today.

  2. An excellent site. Photographs are excellent and the informaion is well written. Thank you for this.

  3. Great idea for a column. I think the artwork itself deserves at least as much discussion as the artist.

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