The land north, east and west of Toronto had been occupied by the Anishinabek, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat, for some 12 to 15,000 years. It was purchased by treaty in 1805. The woods were cleared by the settlers for farming. As the city grew, the farms made way for housing tracts. This continues at an unprecedented pace and all that remains are glimpses, small outcrops, of what once was.
I live close to a creek known as the East Don river. About 25km north of Toronto in an area known as ‘the 905’ (derived from the area code), located at 43°N, 79°W. The river was formerly known as Wonscotanach, an Anishnaabe phrase meaning the river coming from the burnt grounds which could refer to an earlier forest fire in the poplar plains to the north.
Venturing out for short walks, and on occasion short rides or drives, I make these images as a record, a document, of what is here now. A visual diary. Open lands are devoured and developed into what seems like an infinite number of houses, malls and plazas forming a local vernacular based more on quick turnaround than on aesthetic, community or lasting considerations.
I started the project during the time of covid-19 when all was quiet and the lockdown meant that most places were devoid of people - quiet and abandoned. At once both a relief from the busyness and disconcerting in its strangeness. As restrictions have lifted and businesses reopened there is a return to consumption and getting the economy back on track. The roads are once again arteries of human activity and the once bare parking lots full.