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Collections: Oral Histories
The Cabbagetown/Regent Park Museum has been videotaping numerous oral histories from people who live or have lived in the Cabbagetown/Regent Park area. Each person has added some unique perspective to the history of this area and has described the day-to-day life of their families and themselves.
We hear about the impact of the two Great Wars; the Depression; working and living conditions; celebrations; local industry; home life; religious and educational institutions; medical conditions; and the hopes, joys and disappointments of the development of Regent Park.
The demolition and re-building of Regent Park has been documented on video as well as various events such as the Annual Regent Park Christmas Party.
Here is a sampling of some of the subjects discussed and stories revealed in the material. Video clips of interviews will be available online shortly.
[Mama's] 'kitchen was an open door. Anybody that wanted a cup of coffee
and a piece of toast, rye bread whatever ..was welcome just go to go up
the 5 stairs between the store and the kitchen and help themselves.'
'Community spirit? Every Saturday night we'd have parties on the
street. We'd get a watermelon for a quarter and homemade wine. And then
somebody come out with a mouthorgan or the fiddle. Everybody played something
and some of them could sing ..with all those Irish jigs'
'Kids used to improvise their own bobsleds by getting two smaller
sleds with runners and attaching them with a board. On the side of the
Don River they had a bobsled run called the 'icies' and - oh boy - it
was just solid ice and people .. raced out here.'
'I would have been about 7 or 8. Everybody was getting electricity.
But the thing was they always left one gas light in the house in case
the lights went out.'
Got a story to tell?
They [the Riverdale Zoo] had them all - lions, tigers, gorillas, monkeys,
snakes, porcupines - you name them, they had them. As a matter of fact,
when I lived over on River Street I used to hear them lions at night a
howlin' away …I thought I was in Africa!'
'When my grandfather started out it was J. H. Nettleship & Son Plumbing
…and they just drifted into hardware. We carried everything in those
days..but things have changed so much over the years. But we still have
things that people feel that you shouldn't have or wouldn't have.'
"Under the Regent Park Community Initiative working with Toronto Community
Housing there's been very clear standards and guidelines to taking the
whole issue of environment sustainability into the concept of a community
[Revitalization of Regent Park] ..the recycling, how the building are
being made, the materials used, the heating and cooling systems .."
'In all the years I grew up there I never realized that I was living
in public housing. .. we weren't raised that way. At least one of the
parents worked. I was always proud I cam from Regent Park.'