Writing our city's history

Library's historian has published 25 community collections

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live in The Beach 100 years ago, look no further than your public library — and to the work of Barbara Myrvold.

As senior service specialist in local history, Myrvold has been building historical collections for the Toronto Public Library[/url] since 1982. Focusing on Toronto’s many distinct neighbourhoods, she has created easily accessible books and documents that allow Torontonians to learn about the history of their communities.

“I’m constantly discovering new and amazing things about the city,” Myrvold says. “I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years but there’s always something new to learn.”

As someone who has dedicated her life to telling the history of our city, it’s interesting to discover that Myrvold herself has chosen one neighbourhood that suits her more than any other — The Beach.

“What can I say?” Myrvold says with a laugh. “How can you argue with Lake Ontario? The beachside community is what it’s all about.
It’s the little town in the big city.”

That community-minded spirit is a quality Myrvold believes to be a common thread across the city, and one that unites neighbourhoods.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the research it’s that Torontonians are very loyal to their neighbourhoods,” Myrvold says. “Ask anyone and they’ll tell you why their particular community is so great. It’s that pride that sets communities apart and gives them such rich histories.”

Using government documents, archives and census information, Myrvold has written 25 historical collections to date. As technology has advanced, historical records have become more readily available and research methods have evolved. But Myrvold credits our city’s librarians for the bulk of the valuable information she unearths.

“I’m impassioned about the Toronto Public Library system,” she says. “Our librarians are a wealth of knowledge, and have been keeping meticulous records for years. Libraries are so tightly knit within the community that it only makes sense to look there first for historical information.”

To find your local historical collection, visit www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/localhistory[/url].

About this article:

By: Sarah Ryeland
Posted: Oct 21 2009 11:22 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto