Western tells Richmond Row Stories as part of Doors Open London

This weekend, Londoners will travel back in time for a stroll in one of the Forest City’s foundational neighbourhoods – guided (virtually) by its residents as they share stories of their community in their own words.

The interactive event, designed by Western University’s Mark Tovey, features large interpretive panels with rarely seen historic photographs, video documentaries, ‘Hear, Here’ signs, and live storytelling. A part of Doors Open London, Richmond Row Stories will be presented in the auditorium of the London Life Building (255 Dufferin Avenue) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 16.

For more information, please visit https://www.doorsopenontario.on.ca/en/london/london-life-insurance-company

Tovey, an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Western’s Department of History, has been interviewing people living near Richmond Row and capturing their stories for the past few years.

“Richmond Row is a storied shopping street,” says Tovey. “In the 1840s, long before the watering holes of today, soldiers from the London Garrison quenched their thirst in Richmond Street’s ‘grog shops.’ And before Eleanor Jane Blake popularized the name Richmond Row in the 1970s, Richmond Street’s small shops were already proving attractive to local mom-and-pops.

“These local businesses provided the seeds for the Richmond Row name to coalesce around. Gradually, the businesses along Richmond Street moved upscale. Gas stations, drug stores, and diners gave way to boutiques, cafés, and hair salons. In the 1980s, Richmond Row grew to include The Village, the stretch of Richmond Street between the CPR Tracks and Oxford Street.”

Richmond Row Stories will also introduce the London public to Hear, Here. Dial a phone number on a Hear, Here sign, and you can hear a story that happened on that spot, in the words of the person it happened to.

The first Hear, Here signs in London, being erected this fall, will use stories collected by Tovey. The London Life exhibit offers a sneak preview of two of these stories.

The opportunity to bring Hear, Here to London and to Canada represents an international partnership between Western’s Public History programme, the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, and the Culture Office at the City of London.

Hear, Here was founded by Ariel Boujot, a public historian from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Boujot is a Visiting Professor in Western’s Department of History at Western in 2018-2019. This academic year, she will be working in collaboration with Michelle Hamilton of Western’s History Department, and graduate students in Public History, to prepare Hear, Here signs for London’s SOHO district (“South of Horton”).

Along with London Life, and Don Spanner of the London Life Archives, the exhibit is staged in partnership with Western’s Public History Program, Nancy Tausky and Associates, Mitacs, Hear Here, and the Culture Office at the City of London.


Western has five more sites in Doors Open London.

John P. Metras Sports Museum
Discover the history of sports at Western and view this special collection of artifacts and memorabilia, some of which will be displayed especially for Doors Open. Artifacts include leather football helmets, vintage uniforms and rare photographs. You can also take a guided tour with the curator.

Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory
During the day, look safely at the sun with a solar telescope, viewing sunspots and prominences on the surface. Take a basement-to-dome tour of the observatory, including a re-creation of observatory director H.R. Kingston’s office, as well as a 1960s-era control room and exhibit on the life of astronomical model-maker extraordinaire W.G. Colgrove. Public stargazing available, starting 7 p.m.

Western Archives and Research Collections Centre
Come behind the scenes of Western’s Archives and Research Collections Centre to see selected highlights from the university’s archives, rare books and special collections. Items on display will include rare first editions, architectural plans of major London landmarks, early photographs from the London Free Press, and authors’ literary papers. During Doors Open, take part in an archival scavenger hunt.

Don Wright Faculty of Music
Enjoy a guided tour of Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music – including performance, rehearsal and research spaces – and watch the New Horizons Adult Band rehearse. As London prepares to welcome the 2019 JUNO Awards, come and learn more about Western’s long musical history in education, research, performance and composition.

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Take a guided tour and learn about the historical and architectural significance of Western’s University College. Enjoy mini-performances on stage by Theatre Studies students then dive into the costume collection and take to the stage as your favourite literary character. Medieval and Renaissance costumes and props will be on hand for plenty of lively play to inspire future young thespians.

For more information, dates and times, please visit https://www.londonheritage.ca/doorsopenlondon

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