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Watch in Cinema

Mondays, May 29 - July 3, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

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Take a blast to the past in this lively journey through Toronto’s golden age, when the fashion was groovy, the cultural scene was booming and a sense of possibility lingered in the air. Led by Curious Minds favourite Laura Carlson (World-Changing Women, A Philosopher’s Guide to Meaning and Happiness), a historian and Public Programs Manager for Heritage Toronto, we’ll explore Toronto’s civic renaissance in the 1960s and 70s, with a focus on art and culture, architecture and planning. Revisit your favourite haunts, from Yorkville coffeehouses to beloved restaurants to the innovative theatres where big names were getting their start, and reconnect with the icons, like the fearless Jane Jacobs and rocker Ronnie Hawkins, who made the changing city such an exciting place to be. Learn how a sleepy colonial town opened itself to the world and became the cultural mecca we know and love today.

This series is led by Dr. Laura Carlson, who holds a doctorate in History from Oxford University and has taught history and classics at Queen’s University and Centennial College. Dr. Carlson has taught the popular Curious Minds courses World-Changing Women, Six Great Meals That Changed the World, An Edible History of Toronto and Living the Good Life: A Philosopher’s Guide to Meaning and Happiness.

Promotional Partners: Jane's Walk Toronto and Old Toronto

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May 29: A City on the Cusp of Greatness: Toronto in the 1950s

We all know the stereotypes of Toronto before the Sixties: Toronto the Good; Toronto the Boring; a city, as one prominent critic quipped, where every day felt like Sunday. But beneath this placid exterior, seeds were being planted for the renaissance to come. In our opening lecture, we’ll survey 50s Toronto, where a population boom, the rise of rock n’roll and the loosening of the city’s famously restrictive liquor laws were making it a more vibrant and welcoming place.

June 5: Toronto the Hip: Arts, Music, and Culture in the 1960s-70s

In the 1960s, Toronto shook off its moralistic past once and for all and got hip. From Buffy Sainte-Marie playing for crowds at Yorkville coffee houses, to Ronnie Hawkins rocking on the Yonge Street strip, Toronto became a hub of artistic and cultural activity on stage and screen. We’ll look back to the rise of Toronto’s alternative theatre movement, the start of TIFF, and the CanLit luminaries at work in the city during the time.

June 12: Boomtown: Toronto Reimagines Itself

This week, we turn our attention to architecture and how, with the arrival of the new City Hall, the 56-storey TD Centre, the CN Tower and the Eaton Centre, Toronto was transformed into a thoroughly modern city. But even as it was building up, the city was tearing down and we’ll pay nostalgic tribute to some of the glorious buildings razed in the 60s and 70s, from the original Toronto Star building (the inspiration behind Superman’s Daily Planet) to the Victorian Temple Building, once our tallest building.

June 19: Jane Jacobs and the Fight for a Liveable City

With the growth of the suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s, Torontonians were ever more reliant on cars—and new highways like the Gardiner and DVP. But not everyone was in favour of more asphalt. We’ll look at the effect that community activism had on urban planning during this period, and the heroic efforts of Jane Jacobs to keep the city liveable for generations to come.

June 26: A Thrilling Collision of Cultures: Toronto Welcomes New Communities

Toronto has long been a destination for newcomers and the site of one of the world’s most thrilling collision of cultures. In this lecture, we’ll explore the new cultural communities that emerged in Toronto during the 1960s and 1970s, taking a scenic tour from Little Jamaica to Chinatown West to Koreatown. We’ll examine how the city’s neighborhoods, cuisine and cultural activities were enriched by these new arrivals.

July 3: The Legacy of Toronto’s Golden Age

For the final lecture in our series, we’ll look at the lasting impact of the social and cultural changes that emerged in the Sixties and Seventies. From the popularity of SCTV and MuchMusic to the opening of the SkyDome and Roy Thomson Hall, from the start of the Pride Parade to the city’s booming art scene, the 1960s and 70s set the stage for our 21st Century city and the civic institutions that we know and cherish today.

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