Land Acknowledgement

Toronto is in the “Dish With One Spoon Territory.” The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

Toronto’s Cultural Diversity

Toronto is a distinctly cosmopolitan city, and often cited as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Over half the population of the city was born outside of Canada, reflecting approximately 230 different national and cultural origins. Prominent languages spoken, beyond English and French, include Chinese (2/3 Cantonese and 1/3 Mandarin), Italian, Punjabi, Tamil, Tagalog/Filipino, Spanish, and Portuguese. The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto also offers a wide range of programs and services based on Indigenous cultural traditions and teachings. Toronto’s cultural diversity is notably apparent in its distinct and vibrant neighbourhoods, and the richness and diversity of its restaurants, cultural institutions, and residents. 

Toronto’s Modernist Routes

Toronto is the city where Ernest Hemingway lived and worked for the Toronto Star, and it was also the home of Canadian modernist Morley Callaghan, author of Strange Fugitive (1928), a modernist novel of Toronto, and That Summer in Paris (1963), a memoir of the author’s time in Paris, which includes lively episodes such as a boxing match with Hemingway. Canada’s modernist painters in the Group of Seven gathered in the Arts and Letters Club just steps away from the Chelsea Hotel on Elm Street, and major collections of their work are housed at the nearby Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and at the McMichael Collection of Canadian Art in Kleinburg. The AGO also houses unparalleled archival resources relating to Canadian visual modernism.

Toronto came into its own during the modernist era, a fact that is reflected in much of its architecture. The early twentieth century saw the construction of major civic and cultural institutions, including the Beaux-Arts Union Station, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Royal Ontario Museum. Downtown residential neighbourhoods are composed of Victorian-era and Edwardian townhouses. Toronto’s late embrace of architectural modernism in the 1950s and 60s is epitomized in Viljo Revell’s dramatic design for City Hall, which is a 10 minute walk from the conference location.

Modernist Studies Resources in Toronto

The conjoined sponsoring institutions, led by Ryerson University, offer many resources for the study of modernism. Most recently, Ryerson University has become home to the Black Star Photo Collection, a treasured collection of over 300,000 black and white photos spanning the twentieth century and including the work of Berenice Abbott, which is housed in the Ryerson Image Centre at the School of Image Arts. 

The University of Toronto is home to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the largest publicly accessible collection of rare books and manuscripts in Canada, which contains the papers of such figures of interest as Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen. The University’s Victoria College also boasts a strong collection of rare books, documents, and ephemera relating to Virginia Woolf, the Bloomsbury Group, and the Hogarth Press. Other notable archival collections in the city include the Toronto Reference Library,   the Osborne Collection of Children’s Books, the Archives of Ontario, and the City of Toronto Archives. 

The Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre (MLC), affiliated with Ryerson University and directed by Dr. Irene Gammel, is a centre for research that focuses on late nineteeth- and early twentieth-century literature and culture within a broad range of topics, such as avant-garde literature and art; salon culture; visual culture; modernism, including Canadian modernism; modernist biography; and life writing. The MLC ensures that the research conducted is available to both the scholarly community and the general public through exhibitions, publications and outreach events. These events will be accessible to all conference attendees and all are encouraged to visit.

Contact us with any queries

Conference host

The Modern Literature and Culture (MLC) Research Centre was the host of MSA Toronto 2019. Stay up-to-date with the Centre’s research initiatives, projects, and events.

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