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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Bendale: About Place

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benorama In the Globe and Mail’s Real Estate section yesterday, Dave LeBlanc, the Architourist, wrote a piece about the Virtual Museum of Canada exhibit called “Bendale: About Place.” The exhibit was produced by the City of Toronto’s Scarborough Historical Museum located in Thomson Park (both are hidden gems in our city). It’s an oral history project with lots of photographic archives — it’s very much history from the perspective of Bendale residents themselves. You can poke around the exhibit here.

I worked on this project last year and got to sit in so many Bendale living rooms and record people telling wonderful stories about their lives. We often think the suburbs are nowhere and boring, but the opposite is often true. Bendale, strangely, has all these old jazz guys living there. They would play the clubs downtown then commute home to their families in the 1960s. These long time residents live next door to new Canadians who have only been here a few years. To them, Bendale is Canada — and Bendale is a lot closer, at least visually, to the suburban Windsor split-level shag carpet version of Canada I grew up in. I grew quite fond of this pocket of Scarborough, and I liked the long ride out to Kennedy Station then the ride up the Brimley Bus to the Museum. I wrote this piece in Eye Weekly about the place in December 2004. Take a look at the exhibit, then go wander around Bendale yourself (try getting lost in the “Ben Jungle,” where all the streets are named Ben-something). I have a feeling that’s where the real Toronto quietly goes about its business.