Leaside 110 – Reflections on an archival exhibit

John Naulls at the Layers of Leaside.
John Naulls at the Layers of Leaside.

In last month’s Leaside Life we proclaimed “The Layers of Leaside are Redux!” 

The Leaside 110 archival exhibit at Leaside Library, with maps, photos and artifacts displaying the history of the Town, plus three pop-up exhibits contributed by the Leaside Heritage Preservation Society, Leaside High School Alumni Association, and Leaside Memorial Community Gardens, was open to the public from May 4 to 6. And the Layers six-panel tableau created for Leaside Centennial has been transformed into a booklet “The Layers of Leaside.” 

The exhibit experienced a steady stream of visitors and the guest book comments were totally positive, ranging from congratulatory – “bravo! well done,” “fabulous – thank you,” and “excellent walking tour and exhibit” – to those reflective of personal and community experiences – “great memories!”, “a wonderful place to grow up,” “I want to move back” (a separate comment!), “very rich history,” “great neighbourhood,” “such an incredible community,” and “thank you for keeping the Leaside we love,” and to those suggesting ideas for moving forward: “this exhibit should be in a museum,” “can this be mounted as a public-facing web exhibit?”

I think the comments reflect the same kind of community conversations and community building that Jane Jacobs was calling for in her work. Now the committee will turn its mind to some of the challenges suggested by visitor comments intended to preserve the exhibit, such as the development of a public-facing website and digitization of the exhibit. 

Thanks are due to the Archival Committee that worked for several months to arrange the exhibit, but especially to John Naulls for what amounts to a life’s work creating the visual and text record of a community, first for the Leaside Centennial in 2013 and recreating it for the 110th. 

Yes, for Leaside 110 the Layers were revived, and hopefully will live for ever!

About Geoff Kettel 222 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.