Toronto Island Homes
Human intervention within a natural landscape has been a central theme of my work for over thirty years. The images in this book are inspired by my lifelong observations and connection to the immediate environment of the Toronto Islands where I have lived since childhood.
The Toronto Islands have a rich cultural history beginning with the indigenous peoples now known as the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, for whom the island had hunting and spiritual importance. European settlers used the island for leisure, fishing and hunting and by the 1870s there was a summer community with a ball diamond, a midway, and a diving horse. The cottage community eventually grew to include several thousand people, many of whom lived there year-round. However, in 1954 ownership of the Islands was transferred from the City of Toronto to the newly-created Metro Toronto, which set about demolishing homes to create the Island Park. After a long battle, provincial legislation was passed in 1983 to protect the remaining 250 houses from undergoing the same fate.
Today, the Islands consist of a car-free alternative community of 750 people surrounded by a public park which is one of the largest green spaces in the city, located less than one mile from downtown Toronto. Over the last two decades, gentrification has slowly taken place and this has led to many changes in the vernacular of the neighbourhood. Some homes have changed ownership; repairs, upgrades and demolitions have altered the streetscape. My aim in this work is to document the homes in the community as they stand today. I began this process eight years ago and this book represents only some of the over 300 images I have made to date. I will be continuing this work indefinitely and plan to photograph some of the houses over the course of the seasons and during and after renovations. I have published a limited edition book of this work. Information available on request.