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The Workers’ City

It was a lovely summer evening on Wednesday August 6th but more than a hundred people chose to spend it indoors – at the City of Toronto Archives – and they weren’t disappointed! Author, historian and university professor Craig Heron drew a full house for the fourth annual Toronto History Lecture, co-sponsored by the Archives and Toronto Branch, and titled “The Workers’ City: Lives of Toronto’s Working People”.

Toronto History Lecture 2014

Photo courtesy of Jane E. MacNamara

Professor Heron invited his audience to walk in the shoes – or boots, in some cases – of eight different workers from Toronto’s past and present. He introduced us to a 19th-century distillery worker, a print worker, a pieceworker in the garment trade, an immigrant construction worker, a public servant, a health-care worker, a young retail sales clerk and an elderly woman with a long history of unpaid work at home. We learned about the financial, physical and social challenges they faced, and the impact labour movements of the day had on their lives.

The Toronto History Lecture was inaugurated in 2011 in memory of well-known local and family historian Paul McGrath, and this year’s event was dedicated to the memory of J. Brian Gilchrist, one of the country’s leading genealogists, who passed away earlier in 2014. Previous Toronto History Lecturers have included Chris Raible, Janice Nickerson and Guylaine Pétrin.

To find out more about this annual event, visit our Toronto History Lecture page. And if you’d like us to keep you informed of Branch news, click here or on the By Email link at the top right of your screen to subscribe to our updates.

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