The site plan for The Esplanade neighbourhood (original St Lawrence boundaries) was approved in May 1976, when the vision for an inclusive, all-ages housing project welcoming a culturally diverse population of mixed income was supported by the City of Toronto. In celebration of the community’s 40th anniversary, Patchwork Village encompasses a written and visual collection of stories told by residents. On view in Crombie Park—the heart of The Esplanade—this installation celebrates the area’s most valuable asset: its people and their stories.
Ezat, for example, lives in The Esplanade and journeyed from Iran to Canada 31 years ago after fleeing his beloved home country because he was being tortured for being a journalist. Marie-France lives next door to Ezat. She settled in the neighbourhood 40 years ago following a journey that brought her from Cognac, to Orleans, to Mannheim. Around the corner lives Solomon, originally from Rwanda, who grew up in the area and is dedicated to encouraging youth to be actively engaged in their community.
This project is a snapshot of The Esplanade’s composition today, seen through the lenses of residents and photographer Charlie Lindsay. In a collaborative creative process, people of all ages interviewed and gathered stories recounted by 40 selected protagonists. Each story was then translated into a written text and visually interpreted by Lindsay with input from residents. For Patchwork Village, both the stories and the resulting images are displayed throughout the grounds of Crombie Park.
Each neighbour plays an important role in making what The Esplanade is today, and each resident’s story is a component of an ensemble: the social fabric of a community that connects people and forms their collective memory. Patchwork Village explores how a 40-year-old urban-planning vision has resulted in a socially rich neighbourhood; an idea that Esplanadians continue to develop beyond this project.
Presented in partnership with Jamii & CORPUS