The Margins of History is written by me, Christopher Ryan. Like so many others, in August 2000, I came from Northern Ontario (South Porcupine) to Ottawa in order to attend university.
I decided to begin developing Margins for a few reasons. Primarily, I am exceedingly interested in things that most people consider either (a) a complete bore, or (b) thoroughly irrelevant. Instead of using what I’m interested in to lose friends and put loved ones to sleep, those stories will be here. Another reason is that I’ve got virtual mountains of research – partially and fully realized – collected about numerous topics and feel that I should actually do something with it. I mean, aside from filling
Dropbox SkyDrive OneDrive Google Drive iCloud Drive with thousands of PDFs.
Nevertheless, while it’s somewhat cliché, Ottawa is always changing. Sometimes we don’t notice at all. Other times, we do notice and sometimes we even oppose it. For my own part, I’m not much of a preservationist. I don’t believe that my arrival in a given neighbourhood is the cherry on the sundae and I’ve no bridge to draw. Some of the changes are for the better and some are for the worse. What I do think is important is that people are operating as sort of a track changes function for the city. Whether they’re tracking the changes today or whether they’re looking to the past in order to recreate the steps, it’s all important. For my own part, I have a heck of a lot more fun in the past, so that’s where I tend to roam.
Finally, much of why I’m so interested in the changes and histories that I focus on is tied up in my preferred mode of transportation: walking. I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in driving, never learned, and haven’t ever felt limited by not doing so. Even if in something of a hurry, I appreciate that I’m able to take a look around me and really get the details of the day-to-day. With those details come a rather large number of questions and there are few things sadder than an unanswered question. So I dig.
When I began the site in 2013, it was my intention to keep a narrower focus on the part of Ottawa formerly known as Junction Gore (two rivers, Walkley, St. Laurent). It was where I lived (Vanier) afterall and I felt that it didn’t necessarily receive the same thorough treatment that other parts of town have. As it would turn out, I am much more flighty and less focused when it comes to blogging and the stories that captivate me tend to be from all over the city. As Toronto is one of my favourite places, I have begun to add stories from that city as well.
With two exceptions, header images are from the Toronto Public Library’s digital collections.