by John Warkentin, York University
Published by Becker Associates in association with The City Institute at York University
Toronto has over 600 public outdoor sculptures, works of art that provide a sense of the rich variety of life and work in the city, its peoples, cultures and aspirations. Interest in commissioning public sculpture began slowly in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but increased rapidly after the 1950s.This is a book about the sculptures and how they disclose the city to itself.
Creating Memory’s two introductory sections examine the factors behind this expansion over time and the changes in style as one generation of sculptors succeeded another. It looks at the reasons behind the changes as sculptures were conceived, sculpted and erected. More than 10 categories of sculptures are defined and discussed, including Founding the City, Natural Environment, Immigration, Ethnic Groups, Economic Activities, Disaster and Calamity, War And Conflict, Leaders, Ordinary Citizens, Community Life, and Works of the Imagination.
To describe the sculptures in their setting, Toronto is divided into three main axes and over 25 districts, covering the major concentrations of public sculpture across the city. Thirty three maps show the location of every major sculpture. Each one is described, including its dimensions and the name of the sculptor, usually in the context of the local area, and its purpose. All inscriptions are reproduced as closely as possible. Thirty full-page photographs, taken especially for this book by Noemi Volovics, provide a glimpse of the range of sculptures in the city.
Through Toronto’s sculptures the character of the city and its local communities, and many facets of Canadian life, are remembered and revealed in distinctive ways. Creating Memory provides a new and very human perspective on Toronto, its history and its local geography.
About the author
John Warkentin taught geography for over three decades at York University in Toronto, and before that in Manitoba, and briefly in Newfoundland and Greenland. An historical, cultural and regional geographer, he has published extensively on the geography of Canada. For many years he has been a student and observer of the rural and urban landscapes of Canada, particularly on the impact of humans on the land. A native Manitoban, he has been a resident of Toronto since the 1960s, and first knew the city in the 1950s as a graduate student at the University of Toronto.