Spotlight Canada: Faces That Shaped a Nation


On the occasion of Canada’s sesquicentennial, the Ryerson Image Centre honours Canadian culture with Spotlight Canada: Faces That Shaped a Nation, a photographic mural highlighting key personalities who have helped establish our national identity through their endeavours and resilience. These 14 portraits, arrayed across the RIC’s west façade, celebrate a new promised gift to the collection—a cache of nearly 25,000 press photographs of Canadian personalities and events from the 20th century, preserved in The New York Times Photo Archive. Acquired by real estate entrepreneur Chris Bratty and donated as an act of cultural repatriation, the collection further establishes the RIC as a key destination for the study of significant archives of press photography.

Situated in the context of the university’s vibrant downtown campus, this historical panorama (including portraits of Margaret Atwood, Viola Desmond, Wayne Gretzky, Marshall McLuhan, Oscar Peterson, Mary Pickford, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, among others) symbolizes the diverse generations who have exemplified Canadian achievement. The building that houses the Ryerson Image Centre and the School of Image Arts is a hybrid of new and old, the renovation and expansion of a former brewery warehouse by Diamond Schmitt Architects. When the RIC celebrated its grand opening in September 2012, visitors entered the galleries beneath a glass vista depicting important North American and European actors and activists, along with politicians, artists, scientists, and athletes. These photographs were selected from the RIC’s Black Star Collection of photojournalism, which, despite its rich representation of 20th-century history, includes few images of Canada. The arrival of this new collection of press photographs from the United States’ “newspaper of record”—on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation—provides an ideal opportunity to celebrate the primacy and eminence of our nation’s own history and culture.

The Ryerson Image Centre will further introduce this important collection to the public later this year, when The Faraway Nearby goes on view between September 13 and December 10, 2017.

Designed by Kelsey Blackwell

Presented in partnership with Ryerson Image Centre and Ryerson University

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