Could there be any more fitting organization to resurrect, revive and revitalize than a historical society? A group originally formed to put forward a nomination of Queen Street East as a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) has brought about the rejuvenation of the Beach and East Toronto Historical Society, founded in 1974 to raise awareness of the history of the old City of Toronto east of Coxwell (running to Victoria Park in the east, and from roughly Danforth down to Lake Ontario).
Wayne Clutterbuck, who has been organizing the possible HCD nomination, said he’s pleased at the support from some knowledgeable people in the Beach.
“We’ve got what we could probably term as ‘resident historians’ present,” he said, including long-time Society member Barbara Myrvold, founding member Mary Campbell and well-known Beach history booster Gene Domagala.
Though the society wouldn’t have an HCD as part of its mandate, Clutterbuck would take advantage of its knowledge base to build a case for the application.
“We’re hoping the society will be the parent organization for HCD committee work, so we’re going to be affiliated with them,” he said.
Myrvold said a meeting is being planned for February, to try to get a better sense of the public’s interest in revitalizing the society.
“The plan is to see what the interest would be, and have some discussion about the direction that the Beach and East Toronto Historical Society should take, and then we’ll go from there,” she said.
While Myrvold is happy to be a member, she hopes that some fresh perspective could be gained with the renewed interest in the society.
“I’d love to see some new blood come into it. I think it’s good to have the continuity, of someone like Mary [Campbell], who’s been involved since the beginning in 1974, and also to get some new people involved, to reinvigorate it. So that’s what I’m hoping will happen, is that it will be a nice combination of the two,” she said.
As far as an HCD committee is concerned, Myrvold noted that it would need to be the focus of a separate group, since a historical society has a focus that is much broader than a single issue. Despite that, the society would still have an integral role in proving the need for an HCD.
“If you’re trying to preserve the heritage, you have to know what the history is. Whether that comes from a historical society or local individuals working on it, you have to have some sense of the history,” she said.
Details on when and where the next meeting will take place will be released by early next month.