Toronto Series - 1998
So often over the years I would find myself looking for inspiration elsewhere. Off I would go to India, England, France, Bali, Germany, Taiwan, you name it. Today I am still unable to pinpoint the motivation that led me to create the Toronto Series. However, at the time I felt compelled to look in my own backyard. I began, June 1996, by shooting the inspiration of my life, my 96-year-old grandmother, Rose Cole. She was the one I connected to in my family yet somehow I always felt intimidated to ask her to sit for a portrait. One June morning, I piled my equipment into the car and called her en-route to ask if she was available right now to sit for a portrait. Her morning was free but she needed to leave at noon to pick up an award for lifetime achievement at the Seniors Hospital, a geriatric care facility where she volunteered. We had a wonderful time that morning. A confirmed "non-cook", she bestowed her holiday recipes on me and shared some wonderful stories about her life. Maybe it was the reminiscing or the renewed bond with my home and my upbringing in Toronto but the portrait sitting was all I needed to begin my meanderings around the city. As I spent the following days combing the streets around Toronto, I began to feel like I was on a mission - utterly consumed by my task. On my adventure of re-discovery I took rides on the Ferry Boat to Centre Island, I went to the abandoned parts of Union Station and found them to be enchanting. I spent time at the Canadian National Exhibition, Sunnyside, Scarborough Bluffs, College Street, Queen Street West and The Beaches. I was a guest in my own home, noting the longevity of some things and the effects of change on others. Upon revisiting my childhood home, I found that it had been bulldozed to make room for someone else's childhood. I never wanted the journey to end. Oddly enough, my grandmother, the inadvertent catalyst, was also the person who finally put on the brakes. On August 27th, 1996, Rose Cole passed away. As she always told us, "I'll just close my eyes and go to sleep." On a quiet bench in the Beaches, I wrote her eulogy with my camera on my lap.