On a weekly basis Archives and Special Collections gets asked the question “What do you have stored in all those boxes”. In answer to this query, we introduce our “Thinking Inside the Box” exhibit and blog series. The series aims to showcase what we have stored away on shelves and in boxes out of the public eye. “Thinking Inside the Box – Photography” is the first in this series.
Ryerson Library’s Special Collections was founded in 2005 with the donation of the Kodak Canada Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection. Since this time, donations of photography and film-related materials have grown Special Collections exponentially, making up a major part of its holdings. Books, periodicals, photography and developing equipment are just some of the items we house. The camera collection boasts almost 800 cameras ranging in dates from the late 1860s to the early 2000s and include examples of miniature, instamatic, panoramic, and enlarging models.
The exhibit in the Archives and Special Collections reading room features some of this large collection of materials. The exhibits showcase a variety of cameras including: miniature; novelty; movie; flash; Polaroid; twin lens; and varied format. The exhibit also features other camera and developing equipment. The following images showcase a few of the artifacts on display
This year marks a special Anniversary at Ryerson University – a double anniversary. It has been 70 years since the founding of the school and 25 years since it achieved University status.
In conjunction with University wide celebrations, The Ryerson University and Archives has created an exhibit, running June 1 – October 31, looking back at the history of the school. For each month the exhibit is open we will feature in our blog one of the 5 themes of the exhibit: 5 pivotal moments in Ryerson’s history, Student Groups and Clubs, Student Government, Student Housing, and Athletics and Intramurals.
This month marks the start of a new school year and for thousands of Ryerson students the first time living away from home. So it is fitting that for September’s blog we will look at student housing at Ryerson.
When Ryerson first opened in 1948, there was no campus housing for students. Students rented their own apartments, lived in rooming houses or in various YMCA or YWCA facilities. For the 1957-1958 school year Ryerson’s Students’ Adminstrative Council started a housing registry – to help students find accommodations in the city.
Church Street Annexes
In the late 1950s – early 1960s Ryerson purchased 323 and 333 Church Street for the purpose of providing housing to male students. Between 10 and 12 students lived in each building. After Kerr Hall residence opened in 1960, the students rooming in the Church Street residences were allowed to use Kerr Hall’s amenities.
Kerr Hall – Eric Palin Hall
Kerr Hall, renamed Eric Palin Hall in 1969, was Ryerson’s first residence. An all male dormitory that housed 42 students. Located in the refurbished Working Boys Home at 63 Gould Street (Now Oakham House). It opened in the Fall of 1960. In its first year running it cost students $10 per week to live there. It closed in 1972.
Bond House – O’Keefe House
Bond House opened its doors as a men’s residence in 1964. Home to 33 students on 3 floors, it changed its name to O’Keefe House in 1978. It would eventually become a co-ed residence. O’Keefe House closed its doors at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
The Student Housing group of the Ryerson Students’ Administrative Council joined the Co-op College and applied for incorporation in 1967 under the name “Neill-Wycik” – Neill for A. S. Neill the founder of Summerhill School in the U. K. and Wycik in honour of Mama and Papa Wycik.
The co-operative ran 3 (all male and co-ed) houses in Toronto for Ryerson students. They were located at 707 Spadina Avenue, 310 Jarvis Street, and 325 Church Street. They also rented 2 floors in the Rochdale College co-operative building at 341 Bloor Street West starting in 1968.
The purpose built Neill-Wycik College student residence building opened in November of 1970. It housed 800 students on 22 floors.
International Living/Learning Centre
Hotel Ibis, located at 240 Jarvis Street, was purchased by Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in August of 1993. The 11 storey building would be home to 270 co-ed students as well as the new home for the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Ryerson.
Pitman Hall is located at 160 Mutual Street. It has 14 floors and 565 rooms – with each floor having communal kitchen, lounge, and laundry facilities. The cafeteria is located on the main floor. This residence is co-ed.
Opened in the Fall of 2018, Ryerson’s newest residence HOEM is Ryerson’s largest residence with 30 floors and 593 rooms. All suites are fully furnished and include a kitchen, living room, and single, private bedrooms. A co-ed residence that is open to both first and upper year students. HOEM was built and owned by Canadian Student Communities Inc. and is operated in partnership with Ryerson University. To learn more about HOEM, visit their web page here.
To learn more about Ryerson’s history – please visit the Ryerson University Archives and Special Collections located on the 4th floor of the library in Room LIB404.
Stay tuned for month for the final blog in the series – Student Athletics and Intramurals.
The Ryerson University and Archives has created an exhibit, running June 1 – October 31, looking back at the history of the school. For each month the exhibit is open we will feature in our blog one of the 5 themes of the exhibit: 5 pivotal moments in Ryerson’s history, Student Groups and Clubs, Student Government, Student Housing, and Athletics and Intramurals.
For August’s post – we will delve into the history of student government on campus.
The Ryerson student union has held many names since the inception of the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. In 1948, the first iteration of the student assocaition was called the Students’ Administrative Council (SAC). In 1970, it changed its name to the Students’ Union of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (SURPI), and between 1989 and 1996 it was know as Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). In the mid-1990s, the union was renamed the Ryerson Students’ Administrative Council (RYESAC), and in 2006 it became the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) as we know it today.
Initially, the student council’s budget was set by the Institute’s administration and the treasurer position was filled by an instructor. At the time, the student union’s main goal was to organize social and extracurricular activities for the student body. They organized Homecoming Weekend, Open House, the annual student comedy show called RIOT and The Ryerson Opera Workshop (ROW).
By the 1960s, the student association evolved into an elected self-governing body that administered its own funds and became a platform for student activism. In 1966, Janet Weir, a secretarial science student became the first woman elected as SAC president. Weir organized a student-led protest called “Booxodus” to advocate for a larger book collection in the new library building. On November 20, 1967, students were asked to borrow six books from the library to demonstrate the limited resources available at Ryerson. The protesters borrowed 3,000 books from the library, representing almost a third of the overall holdings. The campaign was successful, and funds were allocated to increase book purchases when the new library would be completed in the 1970s.
The Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) was founded in 1979 to represent the large proportion of students enrolled in part-time and evening courses. Through the years, CESAR has collaborated with RSU on campaigns such as pedestrianizing Gould Street, eliminating the use of bottled water on campus and stopping tuition hikes. The organization also focuses on issues specific to Continuing Education students, such as daycare service and full financial credit for part-time studies.
In the early 1990s, the student council lobbied Ryerson to first install recycling bins on campus, and eventually to make them available campus-wide. By the mid-1990s, they organized several student demonstrations in protest of tuition hikes. The president at the time, Victoria Bowman, brought 30 bags of ice to the President’s office as part of a tuition freeze protest.
Ryerson’s student government has certainly changed through the years, but it has and will continue to undertake three major roles for the Ryerson community: provide free or affordable services to students, organize social and community-oriented events, and the role of an advocacy group dedicated to improving the condition of students on campus.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog when we explore the history of student housing at Ryerson!
The Ryerson University Archives has created an exhibit, running June 1 – October 31 2018, looking back at the history of the school. For each month the exhibit is open, we will feature in our blog one of the 5 themes of the exhibit: 5 pivotal moments in Ryerson’s history, Student Groups and Clubs, Student Government, Student Housing, and Athletics and Intramurals.
For July’s blog – let’s explore the history of Student Groups and Clubs at Ryerson.
In the late 1940s, there were only a handful of student groups and clubs. The “Hi Ho” Riding Club gathered approximately 40 students every Saturday at the Three Gaits Riding Club in the east end of Toronto. More than just horsing around, the afternoon of riding lessons also included a time to socialize with refreshments and dancing.
The Circle K Club at Ryerson was founded in 1952 as part of the Kiwanis community service organization. The club organized creative fundraisers such as dance marathons, car rallies, movie nights and blood drives to provide funding for first-year students with financial difficulties. The RyeHam Amateur Radio Club was established in 1953 to provide a space for Ham Radio enthusiasts to improve their skills. The club’s station VE3RIT was located in the basement of Kerr Hall. RyeHam gathered amateur radio contacts from over 150 countries, and offered a radio messaging service to both international and out-of-town students. The club’s activities included sponsored auctions, antenna-fixing parties and a portable operations set up during student orientation on the Toronto Island. By 1956, the club had 42 members, 12 of whom were licensed amateur radio practitioners.
By the 1960s, there were over 30 student clubs and societies organized by undergraduate students. The Ryerson Ski Club had one of the largest memberships on campus. The purpose of the club was to promote skiing as either pleasure or competitive sport, through the use of guest speakers, films and workshops. A typical club meeting included a slide show from the previous year’s fun weekend on the hills and a demonstration by a certified ski instructor on a synthetic slope.
In the 1970s, Ryerson International Student Club (RISC) was one of the most progressive and largest social groups on campus. It was established to support the interests of international students, which was approximately 1 out of 10 students attending Ryerson at that time. One of the club’s major accomplishments was removing the mandatory attendance of student police at dances. RISC organized debates, tours, dances and had a reception committee to welcome international students to Ryerson and support their arrival to Canada.
Student groups also include religious, political and cultural-based associations. Two of Ryerson’s largest cultural student association are the Chinese Student’s Association and the Caribbean and African Student’s Association.
In the 1980s, the Ryerson Women’s Centre was finally recognized as an official student organization, with the goal to improve the status and condition of women at Ryerson through education and action. The Women’s Centre is the student union’s oldest community service. In 2012, the organization changed its name for The Centre for Women and Trans People. This pioneer student centre led the way for other student equity service groups such as RyePride and the Racialized Student Collective.
Today, the Ryerson Student Union funds and supports over 200 Student Groups, Course Unions, and Graduate Student Associations. Stay tuned for next month’s post where we will look at the evolution of Ryerson’s student unions.
Have you ever wondered what people watched at home and in theaters before Netflix and the invention of cinema? This exhibition hopes to demystify one aspect of pre-cinematic technology: magic lantern projectors. These early optical devices used oil or gas light sources to project glass slide images onto a screen. Some say magic lanterns are the precursors to Powerpoint presentations!
The first report of the construction of a magic lantern is generally considered to be referring to the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1659. It was inspired by precedent optical inventions such as the camera obscura (which was a room containing a pinhole that a scene was projected through onto the opposite wall), and magic shadow shows which used puppets and hands to recount stories.
By the eighteenth-century, the magic lantern was “openly displayed” for public events by traveling lanternists in public venues. Several showmen used the lanterns to produce horror shows, popularly known as “Phantasmagoria” shows. These presentations projected ghostly images onto smoke screens to create the effect of conjuring evil spirits.
Initially lanterns were illuminated by candlelight or oil lamps, but this did not produce enough light to project a clear image from afar. Lanternists began to use limestone in the early 1800s, as they could successfully be used for projection in large theaters. Limelight is produced through the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen directed at a piece of lime (calcium oxide). This method was quite complex and potentially hazardous, since at the time putting gas under pressure was achieved by sandwiching rubber bags filled with gas between two pieces of wood.
By the mid 1800s, a huge variety of magic lanterns became available to the professional and home market. On display in the exhibit, we have lanterns with varying functions, from a decorative circular lantern meant to be placed above an oil lamp at home, to a large biunial (or double lens) lantern that could be used in large halls for theatrical presentation or educational lectures.
Slides also varied in their typology, becoming more detailed and elaborate with each new iteration. Initially they were rectangular strips of glass with hand painted imagery and a mahogany wood border. When separate wooden slide carriers were developed, the wooden border attached to the wood slides themselves was removed from the design. Then, the illustrations featured on the glass portion went from being hand-painted to mechanically produced, and by the mid 1800s photographic slides came into production as well.
Magic lantern projection also demonstrates the aspiration to present not only static, but moving images to an audience. Lanternists would use panoramic slides, which when passed in front of the projector’s lens would create the illusion of movement. This quickly progressed into animated images which came about with creation of ingenious mechanical slides. This included rack-and-pinion slides where glass discs were rotated using a handle (and which were often astrologically themed), lever slides, or single pulley slides which used a rope pulley system.
Items on display are part of a recent donation of magic lantern projectors and slides from John Tysall. Stop by the Archives and Special Collections Department on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library to see the new exhibit located in the display case by the 4th floor reading room doors. The exhibition is designed and curated by Jocelyn Oprzedek and Olivia Wong.
The plains of the prairies, the forests of the interior, and the seascapes of the Atlantic and the Pacific have served as muses for Canadian artists and writers for centuries.
In Canada 150: Picturing the Canadian Landscape, photographs and ephemera of the Lorne Shields Historical Photograph Collection at Ryerson University showcase the ways in which the natural landscape has been an essential part of the identity and history of Canada.
Drop by the Archives and Special Collections Department, on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library, to see the exhibition, curated by Image Arts students Bowie Fan, Gabriele Tai, Georgia Love, Justine Marasigan, and Lodoe Laura.
Over the course of its 106-year presence in Toronto, Kodak affected more than just the history of photography in Canada. In satisfying its need for cutting edge photographic manufacturing facilities, the company contributed several ambitious architectural projects to the cityscape. Through these contributions, Kodak left an indelible mark upon the city, the traces of which are still visible today.
The following history documents Kodak’s presence in Toronto from 1899 to 2005, focusing on its three central facilities on Colborne Street, King Street, and at Kodak Heights. This history was constructed from documents and artefacts contained within the Kodak Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection at Ryerson University (Accession #2005.001). These items and more are currently on display on the 4th floor of Ryerson Library. For more information, visit Ryerson Archives and Special Collections.
Kodak’s early days in Canada
In 1888, George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY. In 1899, after successfully operating on the American market for over a decade, Eastman set his sights north, dispatching Kodak employee John G. Palmer to Toronto to determine the viability of establishing a subsidiary in Canada. Palmer discovered a robust market for photographic products and, on November 8, 1899, Canadian Kodak Co., Limited was incorporated under the Ontario Company’s act. The nascent company established headquarters in downtown Toronto, embarking on a relationship with the city that would last more than a century and would constitute the heart of the company’s manufacturing operations in Canada.
Colborne Street (1899 – 1901)
Following Canadian Kodak’s incorporation in 1899, the company established premises in an existing building at 41 Colborne Street, Toronto. The property was intended to serve as an assembly and distribution centre, rather than a site of manufacturing: the fledgling company imported bulk film and photographic paper, as well as completed cameras, from Rochester for packaging and distribution in Canada. The property was leased to Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. for 3 years at $840 per year. Consisting of four floors and a cellar, 24 ¼ x 71 feet each, the site housed the entire Kodak plant and its staff of ten. A further 7-year option on the property was offered by the owner but never taken. Largely unchanged from its original structure, the Colborne Street building still stands today.
King Street (1901 – 1917)
The Colborne Street premises soon proved insufficient to house the rapidly growing Canadian subsidiary. With its lease set to expire in 1901, the company set out to find a new site for its operations in what was then Toronto’s manufacturing district. In September of that year, Canadian Kodak purchased an empty lot at 588 King Street for $70 per foot and hired Toronto architects Chadwick & Beckett to build a new plant. Over its 17-year tenure at this facility, Canadian Kodak began its transition to a manufacturing operation, producing its own photographic film, paper, and mounts. The company also began to import camera parts—rather than completed cameras—from Rochester for assembly and distribution in Canada. Like the Colborne Street site, the King Street premises quickly proved too small to house the growing business and two additional buildings were constructed in an adjoining lot. By 1908, the King Street factory had expanded to its full capacity and the company had grown to 108 employees. Like Kodak’s Colborne Street plant, the King Street facility still stands today, now part of a busy retail strip in downtown Toronto.
Kodak Heights (1913 – 2005)
By 1912, Canadian Kodak had outgrown its King Street facilities. That year, George Eastman visited Toronto to establish a sustainable plan for expansion. The result of his visit was the purchase in 1913 of 25 acres of farmland at Eglinton Avenue and Weston Road, Toronto, for $5,000 per acre. Soon after the deed was signed, construction began on the original seven buildings at Kodak Heights. The property was nicknamed Kodak Heights by company executive S.B. Cornell.
Meeting the Plant’s Power and Transport Needs To meet its massive energy needs, Canadian Kodak built and maintained its own Power House (Building 1) at Kodak Heights. Upwards of 50 tonnes of coal were burned every day, the smoke from which was released through a 200-ft chimney constructed by the Custodis Canadian Chimney Co. The structure soon became a local landmark.
Canadian Kodak also contracted with the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. to extend tracks into the Kodak Heights property, allowing easy delivery of supplies and coal. The tracks ended inside the Power House, reaching the building via a custom-built trestle.
Architectural Design Challenges The manufacture of film was a complicated multi-step process that required equally complex facilities. The sensitivity of film and paper to their environment required extreme cleanliness and climate control. Many steps of this process were performed in dark rooms lit by safe lights. In addition, the production and storage of cellulose nitrate film required safety precautions that impacted the plant’s design.
A New Home for Kodak By 1916, the original seven buildings of Kodak Heights were complete and the company began its move from the King Street premises—a move that would finish in 1917. Kodak Heights was a source of pride for Canadian Kodak. The facility was often opened for tours and played a significant role in the company’s marketing. The property would become Canadian Kodak’s headquarters until its closure in 2005.
Kodak Heights Expansion Kodak Heights grew steadily over its lifetime. In 1939, construction began on the Kodak employees’ building (Building 9). This 4-storey building was designed to accommodate the activities of the Recreation Club, the Department Managers’ Club, and the Kodak Heights Camera Club. It housed an auditorium, cafeteria, gymnasium, club room, locker room, and camera studio and had an adjacent lawn bowling green. The building opened in 1940. Expansion at Kodak Heights continued until the late 20th-century. By 1987, the property housed 18 buildings.
Kodak Heights Demolition and Remains On December 9, 2004, Kodak Canada announced the closure of its manufacturing operations. June 30, 2005 would be the last day of operations at Kodak Heights. In the subsequent months, most of the plant was demolished. Today, only the Employees’ Building remains.
An Equity Service Group of the Ryerson Student’s Union, RyePride has been raising awareness LGBTQ rights and promoting inclusivity on campus for nearly 40 years! The group offers advocacy, education and an annual memorial bursary named for Christopher Skinner.
In anticipation of World Pride 2014, coming to Toronto this June, Ryerson Library and Archives has put together a display using items from RULA and the The ArQuives – Canada’s LBGTQ2+ Archives – to highlight just some of the campaigns and events they’ve spearheaded since their beginnings in 1977. Drop by Special Collections on the 4th floor of the library and learn more about the history of RyePride at Ryerson University.
Visit the RyePride website or contact them for more information on the programs and services they offer: firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a look at the RyePride Timeline for more information on the groups history.
“Computing will most undoubtedly prove to be the most significant development to technology in the second half of the twentieth century. The extent to which Ryerson students graduate with a firm understanding of this new and exciting field, will greatly affect their ability to contribute to society.”
– L.B. Moore, Director of the Ryerson Computing Centre, 1973.
Ryerson University began as a polytechnic institute devoted to the training of students in applied technology. This technical history has informed Ryerson’s identity and culture, playing a significant role in the way the University defines its relationship to the digital age. As we enter an era of ever changing technology and a digitally-connected society, a look back at the early days of computing at Ryerson highlights the development of a digital campus and its impact on the Ryerson way of life.
Always at the forefront of innovation, Ryerson’s early use of computing technology began in the 1960s when Ryerson was one of the first institutions to acquire a general purpose computer, an IBM Model 360-30, affectionately nicknamed “DAISY” (Direct Access Information System).
It’s difficult to imagine a world without smart phones or even personal computers, but the early days of computing at Ryerson involved the use of one centralized system that students would line up to use. Eventually this changed to include the addition of terminals throughout campus that would connect via Bell phone lines to the main computer. The main functions were academic and administration assistance, including student registration, payroll, scheduling, grades, library circulation, and the occasional selection of Miss Ryerson.
DAISY was not without its quirks. Nearing the end of its life-cycle the first model would confuse library punch cards and harass students with overdue notices on books that had been returned. In 1975 DAISY took the initiative of creating a brand new Journalism class consisting of three surprised students. DAISY would be upgraded three times (1967, 1969, and up to IBM Model 360.55 in 1973 which contained 256 kilobytes of core memory and cost the annual amount of $404,00
The process of running a “job” or task included manually typing programming instructions into a “punch” card, feeding the card into the computer terminal, which would then process the program and data, and print out the results. This process was called “batching”, and would continue until the 1980s, when the University realized the technology was quickly becoming obsolete. The ever-increasing rate of change and the resulting obsolete formats is a factor which would continue to define digital technology into the twenty-first century.
In 1974 the Joint York-Ryerson Computing Centre established the first cooperative computing centre in Canada with the objective of sharing expertise and reducing costs. This resulted in the end of DAISY, which was dismantled and returned to the American company from which it was leased. The first of its kind in Canada, the YRCC operated with the main computer at York and connected terminals at Ryerson.
A MODERN COMPUTER CENTRE
In the late 70s, the demand for more computers and processing capabilities gave rise to student protests over the lack of computer resources. The computer centre was so overwhelmed that they implemented restrictions and quotas on accessing the computer mainframe. Each department would receive an allotment for its students to use throughout the semester; if a student ran out of credit, then they would have to petition for increased time. In 1979 the situation escalated to the point of violence, in which a student was stabbed in the arm with a pen when he attempted to use someone’s punch-card terminal.
In 1983, IBM donated $3.7 million worth of computer hardware and software to Ryerson, at the time the largest single donation to the institute. The equipment, an IBM 3033 processor, 300 terminals, five personal computers and advanced software, created an on-line interactive system and established the Ryerson Computing Centre.
TECHNOLOGY IN THE LIBRARY
Ryerson Library was an early adopter of computer technology on campus. The early days of libraries consisted of card catalogues and handwritten entries signing out books. In the second half of the 20th century, this rapidly changed to an electronic format that would alter the way knowledge was organized and retrieved.
For Ryerson Library the shift to digital began in 1968 when the library converted the author, title and catalogue data for all books to machine-readable form, implementing an electronic circulation control system to keep track of books. Students would no longer sign out books, but punch out computer cards.
In 1978, Ryerson library became the first library in North America to operate its circulation system on-line using DOBIS/LIBIS, a computerized library system developed by IBM in Europe. DOBIS (Dortmund Bibliotek System) replaced the dated Mohawk punch-card circulation system.
The circulation function involved the first-time use of barcode labels affixed to books and ID badges read by an IBM optical scanner. Throughout the 80s and 90s technological advancement in the library would continue, including the establishment of its first computer lab in 1982, as well as developments in subject indexing and electronic resources.
In the last quarter century Ryerson University has paved the way for technology-driven learning. This can most clearly be seen with the new Student Learning Centre, which promises to provide an interactive environment employing the latest in digital technology. Projects such as the Digital Media Zone act as an incubator for Ryerson students to collaborate in the design and implementation of digital tools and apps. Accessible technology has placed students at the centre of e-learning, furthering the role students have in shaping their education and campus environment. These developments would not be possible without the small but significant steps taken in the 1960s towards a progressive, digital future.
Bringing together diverse artifacts and historical materials from the Ryerson Archives, #WIRED is an exhibition that highlights pivotal moments in the digital evolution of Ryerson University.
As part of the on campus events commemorating Jack Layton’s legacy at Ryerson university and his lasting impact on Canada, the Ryerson archives have installed a display featuring items from his recently donated archival collection.