Over the last year, some of us have spent more time than ever before in the city we call home. We’ve been seeing Toronto in a new light, experiencing it in new ways, and examining it with a critical eye under the lens of the pandemic. For Myseum, this has inspired our unique and community-responsive programming. From Stories of Collective Care in the Time of COVID-19 to Over-Policing Black and Indigenous Lives to Archiving Asian-Canadian Stories, we’ve aimed to draw attention to today’s issues, while reflecting on all the things we love and appreciate about our great city.
Myseum was conceptualized by founder Diane Blake as a way to bring all Toronto communities together in a shared celebration of our city. During a time when we could all use a little love, we talked to Diane, and the members of our board of directors, about what they love most about Toronto. A common thread is that Toronto is a diverse and ever-changing place where different types of people can find belonging. It’s safe, collaborative, energetic and ripe with unfinished possibility.
Keep reading for our interview with Diane, and thoughts from our board, about the lovable side of this special city. We hope it will inspire you to explore Toronto, even virtually, and rediscover what you love about the city.
Myseum: What inspired you to create Myseum?
Diane: I’ve always been a history geek. When I was a child in England, I loved to explore old houses and castles; to see how people lived in the past and how history was preserved. Since moving to Toronto in 1985, my husband and I wanted to find a way to give back to the city that has given us so much. Myseum combines my love for history with my love for this city and creates a shared sense of belonging with all Torontonians.
Myseum: What do you love about Toronto?
Diane: It’s safe, it’s explorable, and it’s ever-changing. The dynamism of this city is exciting. It’s always changing, adapting, and maturing, and yet it feels comfortable; like finding new clothes that just so happen to fit perfectly. The evolving urban landscape, for example, always interests me. I notice it when I ride the streetcar along King Street; each time I see something new and different. It’s not all “beautiful” but it’s always interesting.
Myseum: Why is this aspect so important to cities?
Diane: Cities are dynamic institutions and the constant striving for growth creates energy, vitality, and endless possibilities. Societies need to change to adapt to how people are changing, and Toronto is good at that.
Myseum: What makes Toronto unique from other cities?
Diane: Toronto is wide rather than deep. As a newer formed city, we might not have the long and deep histories of European cities, but we do have a great breadth of diverse human experience here. We are kinder and gentler than our southern neighbours, and less threatened by change and cultural differences than some other continents.
Myseum: How can Toronto be improved?
Diane: We can do more to make arts and culture accessible to a wider range of Torontonians. I see both financial and physical barriers that make it difficult for members of some communities to get in the door. I also see institutional barriers that limit the types of things people see if they do show up. We all have the right to participate in arts and culture, and to see ourselves and our lived experiences reflected in the content so we can all feel belonging. At Myseum we offer free events and work directly with community organizations to create programming that motivates people from all our diverse communities to participate.
Myseum: Why is it important to celebrate our city?
Because we are all in this small area together and each of us needs to feel that we belong. We need to celebrate what we have, but we should never be complacent or self-satisfied and think that social issues can’t increase and divide us. We don’t have it all figured out. If we can better understand the experiences of everyone who shares this space, we can work together to come up with solutions. A city will always be unfinished, and my hope is that Myseum can be a part of the continuous bettering of Toronto.
What our board members love about Toronto:
Ian Bandeen – When I see Toronto, I see a possible roadmap to the world of the future. As with any journey to the unknown, it is always wise to know as much as you can about where you started from so that you can better understand where you are headed.
Taslim Somani – People. Green spaces. Neighbourhoods. Energy. Opportunity. I love Toronto’s vibrancy and desire to be more, to be better. I love the passion Torontonians have for togetherness—a neighbourhood festival, game night, brunch with friends or a picnic in the park. I love that Toronto is ever-changing with old and new co-existing side-by-side. I love that I have a sense of space and time in Toronto—cherished memories, appreciating what’s new, and excited for what’s to come. I love that Toronto is for me and for everyone. I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with fellow Torontonians just in passing—each of these encounters a moment in time, a connection, a shared appreciation of where we’ve come from, who we are, and a happy salute to our future selves in this fair city we call home.
Jesse Barke – Vibrante et charmante, Toronto est une ville cosmopolite par excellence. En plus de son grand centre-ville inspirant, la ville regorge de beaux espaces naturels (espaces verts, le lac et ses îles, ruisseaux…etc.) ainsi que de nombreux quartiers, chacun avec ses particularités attrayantes. Grâce à la migration au fil des ans, l’aise avec laquelle l’on peut savourer et découvrir les cuisines, arts, et cultures d’horizons lointains et du Canada sans pour autant quitter la ville est une aubaine! Ville d’opportunités, j’apprécie en particulier, le fait que l’on puisse trouver des activités, groupes et associations sur presque tous les sujets d’intérêt tout en ayant d’amples opportunités d’apporter sa propre contribution.
Vibrant and charming, Toronto is a preeminent cosmopolitan city. In addition to its large and inspiring downtown core, the city overflows with beautiful natural spaces (the green spaces, the lake and its islands, the creeks, etc.) as well as numerous neighbourhoods, each with its own inviting characteristics. Thanks to decades of migration, the ease with which it is possible to savour and discover the cuisine, art, and culture of faraway places, as well as Canada’s, without leaving the city, is a bonus! City of opportunities, I particularly appreciate the fact that it is possible to find activities, groups, and associations related to almost any topic of interest, all while having ample opportunity to make one’s own contribution.
Ken Greenberg – One of the things I love about Toronto is the sense of immense unfinished possibility, rough at the edges, energetic, polyglot and wildly heterogeneous but also at its best welcoming, generous and caring, trying to get better and constantly attempting to expand its definition of belonging, who is a Torontonian. There is a sense of a huge collective project of redefinition as the city adds more and more new layers. It is exciting but also sometimes nervous-making to think about what comes next.
Ruth Mora – What I like most about Toronto is the general sense of harmony and security, and the sense of collectiveness that’s reflected in our ‘soft infrastructure’ institutions such as the public libraries, community centres, healthcare system, parks, public spaces, and the many community-driven ‘caremongering’ social and cultural associations. That sense of collectiveness is what binds our communities together and fosters collaboration among families, neighbours, friends, and strangers; new and old. These unique assets facilitate a safe space for everyone to participate, adapt and build on the rich, accepting a multicultural identity that defines us as a whole.
Adam Kahan – What I most love about Toronto is its diversity and inclusion. Also, despite some bumps in the road the city seems to work, everyone can find their niche and while living in that niche fully interact with all the other niches that about in the city.
Carolyn Ray – Today, I stood in front of my great-great-grandparents house in Parkdale, imagining what it would have felt like to live on this quiet, winding lane 150 years ago. Then, I turned a corner and emerged into a vibrant, bustling street, with the streetcar whizzing past, overflowing flower shops, open-air restaurants and stunning street art. It was a moment that reminded me that the real Toronto is found in its neighbourhoods. If you’re curious, you can travel from one world to another simply by taking a detour down a side street and discover a unique palette of ethnicities, languages, tastes, nature and architecture.
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Our engaging programs and experiences showcase the history, spaces, culture(s), architecture, and the people, that represent Toronto’s unique place in the world.
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