Found Toronto was presented as part of the Building On History exhibit that opened at Harbourfront Centre in January 2009. The intent of the show was to communicate to the public how heritage architects practice. ERA’s installation focused on the historical research process by allowing visitors to literally connect the dots between an historical map, a primary source text, and the present-day city. The format of the installation was designed to illustrate the journey of discovery and documentation as it relates to our built environment.
For the installation the 1858 Boulton Atlas (one of the city’s earliest maps) was recreated on a massive scale. ERA spent several months investigating the buildings shown on the map and through our research we were able to identify 205 properties that remain today. Simple snapshots of these Boulton-era buildings and urban spaces were presented as documentation of their present-day condition. This research was accompanied by a detailed description of contemporary city life that was taken directly from the pages of the 1856 City Directory. All references to the buildings and spaces that remain were identified and cross-referenced using a colour-coded, numbering system.
The installation invited the visitor to stand in front of the city that was and to imagine its mid-19th century character, and then discover what remains today. Found Toronto let us see how the old Toronto connects to the Toronto of today, and shows us where our history may lie, both out of sight and in plain view.