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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.'
Sophie Stransman, b. 1920-


Siegel's Groceteria at the corner of Oak Street and Sumach streets was 'home' to the neighbourhood during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Carol Moore-Ede (portrait) & Sophie Stransman(store)

'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'
John "Corky" Miller, b. 1929-


"Corky" Miller grew up in the original Cabbagetown before the building of Regent Park. Carol Moore-Ede

'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.'
Robert McCauley, b. 1926-


Robert McCauley grew up around Winchester School in the 1930s. He visits the old neighbourhood with his daughter in 2005 Carol Moore-Ede

'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.'
Gail Ward, b. 1910-


Gail Ward has lived for 96 years in the house in which she was born. Her father built a number of the original houses on Amelia and Sumach Streets. Carol Moore-Ede

 


Thank you to our many interviewees.

Got a story to tell?
Let us record your stories for generations present and future. Our oral histories are ongoing and we welcome any suggestions of people for additional interviews. Please contact us if you are interested in participating.

 

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!'
David Georgia, b. 1932-


David Georgia is rich in stories from his Cabbagetown past. He grew up at River & Gerrard Carol Moore-Ede

'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.'
Margaret Nettleship Taggart, b. 1933


Nettleship's Hardware is still located at 578 Parliament Street and is now run by Margaret's son Donny. Carol Moore-Ede

"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 .."
Diane MacLean, b. 1966


Diane McLean has lived in Regent Park and the neighbourhood since 1986. She continues to have a leadership role in the revitalization. Carol Moore-Ede

'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.'
Dave Dobson, b. 1957-


Dave Dobson's family moved into Regent Park in 1957. His family moved to the east end of Toronto during his 8th Grade year. Carol Moore-Ede