Monday, November 30, 2009

More pix, more heroes

Friday I happened to be looking around on the TPL's site and I came across a list of indexes for some very interesting photos. None of them were scanned and online, unfortunately, but they were well-described and really made me sit up and take notice. They were shot by a man named Ted Chirnside in the 50s and 60s, and it looked as though the North York Central Library kept the index.

Saturday I got up and headed over there. They had six binders of photocopied images to be used as a reference, and just like with James Salmon relative to the cards in the TRL, Ted Chirnside's collection seemed to take up half the space. The index they'd put together was terrific... it was arranged by subject and by number. I found the number index far more useful because Chirnside's images were largely in two sections, and so it was a simple matter to flip through them, wonder what the subject was, and look it up.

It was like finding James Salmon's collection all over again (indeed, it was suggested to me that they knew one another and may have even have shot subjects together; one of Chirnside's photos includes Salmon's wife and daughters taken nearly two years after he died). The unbelievable images just washed over me. Things that I never expected to see. It was weird. It was like he knew I'd be along someday, and what I'd like to see, and he shot it. A couple of shots of Old Bayview bridge over the West Don, one looking southward up the hill and showing the road still clearly visible, the other capturing both the old bridge and the current one high above it through bare trees. The intersection of Finch and Woodbine, which no longer exists. Shots of Sheppard and Woodbine (which, again, no longer exists). The drive-in theatre on Sheppard, closed in 1976 and long gone. Steeles and Victoria Park as a dead-end rural T-junction intersection; a one-lane bridge carrying Finch over the Don just west of Leslie; a weird curve in Finch Avenue near Page Avenue... even a photo of what is now Old Cummer Avenue bridge over the Don, back when it was still open to traffic and the road running up the hill beyond was clearly visible! A first; other than my own shots, I've never seen a picture of that bridge till now.

Unfortunately, as I said, his brilliant collection is not digitized and not online. Getting reproductions for comparison work is going to be expensive. Digitized copies are about $20 a pop. Getting colour photocopies (of black and white photos) at a little over $5 each might be my best solution for now. I can use the indexes to careful select photos that have "wow" power and then show what those locations look like now. It would make an interesting ongoing project.

Anyway, I'm also doing my bit for the future; paying it forward. Yesterday (Sunday) P-Doug came out with me and we fixed the G9 to my car and videoed the roads, bridges, and level crossings in what is (unofficially) Rouge Park in the northeast of Scarborough. I handed off the W1 to him and every so often we would stop and he would leap out and photograph level crossings and one-lane bridges that may not be long for this world. We have them in 3D now, and I can only hope that will really be of value to researchers someday.

Afterwards we went to a pub in the area called The Fossil and Haggis. The wings P-Doug had were REAL wings; not those tiny things you get in most restaurants. It was two-for-one day and he got two pounds of wings for about eleven bucks. Wow! I had a roast beef dip and it was nicely done. The beef was thoroughly cooked but it wasn't dry. We need to back there. It was a good spot.

1 comment:

Old Camera said...

I knew Ted Chirnshide when I worked as a reporter/photographer with the old Willowdale Enterprise Newspaper in the early 1970s. Ted realized after the war that the boom in North York would bring great change to the landscape. He photographed areas he felt would later change radically....he was right.

Ted's dream was to publish a book of his work similiar to the Mike Filey format. It never came to pass. I lost track of Ted over the years. I remember his wife was very nice. She worked at the Gibson House museum on Yonge St. Thier house in the Yonge and Bishop area is gone...fallen to development he knew would come. He was a nice man.