About CHP -
CHP - The Community History Project -
is a local history group at the heart of Toronto (and owner of this site and The tollkeeper's cottage
). If you arrived here via a link from another site, please be sure to also view the story of our Search for a New Home.
Founded in 1983 and incorporated in 1987 as a not-for-profit corporation, the Community History Project (“CHP”) is a member of the Toronto Historical Association
, and works co-operatively with heritage organizations across Toronto and with residents’ associations in its study area. On 1 June 1 2009, we formally were registered as a CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION ( rather than a non-profit society.). We are now able to directly issue tax receipts for donations.
The group has its corporate and mailing headquarters at the Spadina Road Library, but operates out of offices in donated space at 79 Queen Street East.
Located at the heart of the City of Toronto, the CHP has a study area
which is informally defined as being bounded by the Don River on the east, Dufferin Street on the west, Wellesley Street on the south and Heath St. on the north. The area includes Yorkville, the Annex, Deer Park, Seaton Village, Hillcrest and Wychwood Park.
Members of CHP include teachers, planners, students, a professional researcher, an engineer, authors, and residents of the study area. A few members support the work of CHP from well beyond the boundaries of the city. Other individuals, while not being members, contribute to CHP’s work by donating their time, financial support, and materials.
The Community History Project receives a small annual Heritage Organization Development Grant from the Ontario Ministry of Culture, but is mainly supported by its own members who pay for much of the work out of their own pockets.
: This library has been built by donations from members and others, with a few purchases made by CHP. It consists if several hundred volumes used constantly for research.
: The most important of CHP’s holdings are its Tyrrell Collection, which deals with Joseph Burr Tyrrell, Canada’s last great explorer and the man who discovered the dinosaur fossils in Alberta and whose observations led to understanding continental drift. This large collection consists of glass plate negatives and positives of the Arctic explorations and Tyrell’s years in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. Two CHP members are converting the images to disc for future publication. CHP has a collection of militaria, a small collection about Ambrose Small, the Canadian entertainment and theatre mogul, and assorted items related to the history of its study area.
: CHP has several classes of files. When the group began, it was agreed that a building Inventory would be set up, with the focus on the oldest buildings, whether vanished or extant. This necessitated a parallel filing system of biographical material about people associated with the building or evolution of the area. It's expected that these files will never be complete as material is being added to them on an almost daily basis.
Another filing system consists of maps and copies of maps with attention to the study area but city-wide in scope. This collection includes a growing number of registered plans of subdivisions.
The Tollkeeper’s Cottage
, the tolling system in Ontario and elsewhere, and on roads and road-building.
Placed on deposit with CHP are the files of the ABC Residents’ Association, and transferred to the CHP’s use and care are the files of the Maps Project which deal with historic sites across the entire city. Other files deal with the War of 1812, the burial ground and buildings in the St. James block on King Street. Linked to specific areas are maps and files that deal with the Toronto waterfront and with the evolution of Yonge Street.
Recipes drawn from the study area were an early undertaking by CHP, and this collection had grown to include others from the 19th century. CHP has published two collections and is preparing a second edition of its first recipe book.
In addition to research, advocacy and public education are primary activities of the Community History Project. Advocacy is carried out to support the preservation of sites which are important to the history of the city and country or are key to the character and stability of a given neighbourhood. CHP’s guiding philosophy in advocacy is the public interest.
Public education by CHP takes various forms: exhibits which are taken to public venues, research which is published in book form whenever financial resources permit, brochures which are given away free of charge at any and every opportunity, and through lectures and special programs held throughout the year.
Membership fees and the annual HOD Grant are inadequate in funding CHP’s work; so several programs are devised to raise funds each year. One of these is the annual Junque in June Sale
, while others recently held offered information on foods available to early settlers in the area (see "Events"
CHP has designed 31 neighbourhood walking tours, a city-wide walking tour of Davenport Road, four local tours of the area around the Tollkeeper's Cottage, and a walking tour of part of the Yorkville and Vaughan Plank Road. As well, CHP has for sale some self-guided walking tour brochures
($1 each at the CHP offices
and at The tollkeeper's Cottage
The CHP is open to the public free of charge whenever volunteer staff are available, and offers exhibits about Toronto’s history and character. Appointments can be arranged by contacting CHP