By Stephen Weir
Photo by Stephen Weir
Last week a box with over 1,000 small bottles containing messages written by people from the Bloor and Bathurst district in Toronto along with various artifacts and addressed to the future.
The bottles were on display at the Different Booklist Cultural Centre on Bathurst Street where people poured in to hear members of many groups talk about the rich history of the area, and the need to keep those memories alive. To do that, the time capsule was put in the ground where the iconic Honest Ed’s store once stood.
The bargain basement department store is long gone. The Westbank Corporation is now busy redeveloping the Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village site with a park and six towers. Ellis Donn Construction, which is doing the deep ground excavation of the site for Westbank, worked with the community to entomb the time capsule just south of the Bloor and Bathurst St intersection.
The burial was the brain child of Itah Sadu, author, public speaker and owner of the Different Booklist. Her bookstore is attached to the Cultural Centre directly across the street from the Honest Eds’s Hole.
“Historically Bathurst and Bloor has been the hub of the Black Caribbean community in Toronto,” she told the Caribbean Camera. “Patty and roti shops, beauty shops, record stores and our bookstore have lined Bathurst Street for generations.”
When the speeches were over, musician Pan Man Pat with his steelpan led a procession across Bathurst Street to the edge of the construction site. School children, residents and members of the Caribbean community marched in the mini-parade. Hard-hatted Ellis Donn workers acted as crossing guards when the parade crossed the street.
Standing on the sidewalk Sadu told the audience that “Bathurst Street and the former Mirvish Village were once a place of memory and history. So we are all going to add to that history and I believe in doing so, we are adding to the ongoing history of African Canadians in Toronto. In one hundred years when this box is opened again we will be remembered again.”