The Toronto Islands have a rich cultural history beginning with the indigenous peoples now known as the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, for whom the Island had spiritual and hunting importance. European settlers used the Island for leisure, fishing and hunting, and by the 1870s a tent city had been created. This later became a community of small cottages and eventually grew to include several thousand people, many of whom lived there year-round. 

In 1954 ownership of the Islands was transferred from the City of Toronto to the newly-created Metropolitan Toronto, which set about demolishing homes to create the Island Park. After a long battle, provincial legislation was passed in 1983 to protect the remaining 250 houses from undergoing the same fate. Today, the Islands consist of an almost car-free community of 750 people surrounded by a public park. It is the largest green space in the city and is located less than one mile from downtown Toronto. Over the last two decades there have been many changes in the community, with the vernacular of the neighbourhoods slowly becoming gentrified. Homes are changing ownership and demolitions, repairs and upgrades change the nature of the streetscape. It is my intention with this work to create a document of the homes in the community as they stand today. This is a sample of some of the over 300 images I have made to date. I will be continuing this work indefinitely and plan to photograph some of the houses over the seasons and during and after renovations. This work is in the collection of the City of Toronto Archives. Chromogenic prints, 30" x 40" and 20" x 24", edition of seven.  

The Toronto Islands have a rich cultural history beginning with the indigenous peoples, to whom the Island continues to have spiritual and cultural importance.  I would like to acknowledge that this work was created on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, and the Haudenosaunee. I would like to thank the Huron-Wendat for sharing these Islands, known as Mnisiing, where I live and work. 

Copyright 2020, April Hickox
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