Monday, 21 October 2013




Alongside recorded oral histories, photographs provide the background under which Mapping Harbord Village is set. These glossy coated images capture and record moments of Harbord Village past and present. Yet pictures capture so much more than a visual record of a time and place, they hold memory for a person, a family, or in this case a neighbourhood. Every photograph tells a story.
In the last week I have traveled through Harbord Village collecting high quality scans of residents’ photographs for the exhibition. Meeting residents face to face, being invited into their homes and being witness to their memories is an experience that I can only describe as surreal and humbling. For the past two months I have stored, categorized and committed to memory some 200 photographs collected by HRVA member and interviewer Eleanor Lavine. 

Hockey, Carlos Fernandes, Paulo Fernandes, Tommy (neighbour) in front of 
100-102 Major Street, Late 1970s
After meeting with residents Celia Denov, Paulo Fernandes and Marsha Ginsberg, their photographs now offer a new level of interpretation. Paulo’s hockey picture no longer offers the singular representation that laneways were used for play. The photograph now speaks to the sibling relationship (brother Carlos left, Paulo center) and camaraderie (neighbour Tommy right) experienced at 104 Major Street in the late 1970s.

For Marsha Ginsberg looking at the photograph of her family’s Passover dinner in 1938 brings back a flood of memories.  Each face, unknown to me, comes alive as she describes each family member. Sitting at the head of the table holding Marsha’s older sister (age one) is Marsha’s bubbee Sylvia Levine, who Marsha describes with a smile as “the sweetest person.” To the right of Sylvia are Marsha’s parents (Rose and Same Bronstein) and two older brothers (Harvey, the oldest, is now 85 years old).

The memories that I have been witness to have helped me understand the history of neighbourhood, and allowed me to imagine what life might have been growing up there. While these stories merely scratch at the surface of Harbord Village’s history, I can only express excitement at the opportunity to hear more stories from community members during the opening reception on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 from 6-8pm. Indeed a picture hold a thousand words, and thousands more have yet to be spoken. 

Passover Dinner, Sophie and Philip Levine (pictured at the head of the table)
Grandparents to Marsha Ginsberg, 1938, 75 years ago, Street unknown.

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