To celebrate Zion Schoolhouse’s 150th anniversary, the Zion Schoolhouse Project presents three maps imagining the schoolhouse and surrounding area in the present (2018), the year it was built (1869), and 150 years in the future (2169). Zion Schoolhouse was founded along with hundreds of other rural Ontario schoolhouses built from stock plans after Egerton Ryerson promoted an education system that would be “free, universal, and accessible” — a legacy that was tarnished by his influence in establishing what would become the residential school system. The project is an effort to celebrate history while confronting its wounds, healing the past while envisioning a more integrated future.
Created through a series of youth art mentorship workshops lead by the Urban Geographer, Daniel Rotsztain, 10 local youth artists collaboratively created the multi-media maps while developing professional arts skills. The workshops were co-lead by Maggie Newell, a museum educator with Toronto Historic Sites, and Lindsey Lickers, a multi-media artist, arts administrator, educator, and program coordinator, originally from Six Nations of the Grand River and connected to the Mississauga’s of the New Credit through traditional matriarchal lineage.
The PAST map represents the schoolhouse and surrounding area in the year 1869, when the Zion Schoolhouse was first opened as S.S.12. The map imagines the livelihoods of the rural village of L’Amoreaux, where families would grow vegetables, grain and livestock on small farm plots for subsistence or sale at nearby markets. The map grapples with the tension of the time - visualizing the forests, river valleys, and small agricultural fields of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe nations as they were surveyed, subdivided, and dissolved into patches of farmland, given for free to newly arrived settlers. While the Dish with One Spoon and Two Row Wampum belts — covenants that outline our responsibility to the land, to each other, and between nations — surround the Seneca Village, the Union Jack flies at Zion Schoolhouse, representing the British law and ways of life being spread throughout the land.
The PRESENT map is an expression of Toronto as it is experienced by the youth artists who created it in 2018. The rural landscape of 1869 has given way to a modern city of highways, high rises, and vast tracts of single family homes. The map celebrates the little things that represent the Toronto of 2018 — TTC busses make their way down major thoroughfares, while constant construction plugs up the streets. The map is also a tribute to Villaways, a nearby Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood that was being demolished and redeveloped at the time the maps were made. Many of the contributors grew up in Villaways, but redevelopment had displaced them to other corners of the city. The map became an opportunity to express memories of their lost community - where their friends lived, local landmarks, and their explorations of the East Don River.
The FUTURE map envisions the same neighbourhood but in 2169, 300 years after the Zion Schoolhouse was built. The map gave participants an opportunity to express their hopes and dreams of the future. In many ways, 150 years in the future looks more like 1869 than 2018. While the single family homes of North York have been replaced by towering high rises, this has freed up wide expanses of land between, where forests and farmland has been reintroduced into the city. Food is delivered directly from field to residences via tubes, and buildings integrate home, school, work, and shopping. The TTC is offering similar service, but with hover craft vehicles, while the wealthiest have access to self driving flying cars. Nearby Cresthaven Public School has become a museum showcasing education of the early 21st century, while Zion Schoolhouse has become the base of a condo ( — we hope this doesn’t come true!). The map also envisions a future where the “Nation to Nation” agreements between First Nations and the Canadian government have fully manifested. The Canadian flag has been replaced by the Two Row wampum belt with four maple leaves representing the First Nations, the French, the British, and New Immigrants, while flags representing the Ojibway/Cree Seven Grandfather teachings and a medallion representing the Haudenosaunee ways of life express our obligations to the land and to each other.
Cards by Romero Martin
|The Zion Schoolhouse Project | Highlights
|The Zion Schoolhouse Project | Interviews
MEET THE TEAM
Daniel RotsztainLead Artist
Lindsey Lickers (Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe)First Nations Facilitator
Maggie NewellMuseum Educator
This project is supported through Toronto Arts Council Strategic Funding