Thousands of photographs of Canadian rock stars, politicians, actors, community leaders and artists taken during the 1980s are now part of U of T’s Media Commons, thanks to a gift from NOW, Toronto’s alternative weekly magazine.
Among the photos are portraits of writers Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood (BA 1963), former Ontario premier Bob Rae (BA 1969, LLB 1977), artist Norval Morriseau and actor Mike Myers. Many are “outtakes” that never made it into print. Although most of the shots are black and white, some are hand-coloured by the photographers. “This gift is really important because NOW documents portions of society that are not always covered by the mainstream newspapers,” says Brock Silversides, head of Media Commons and the university’s film archivist.
A portion of the gift was displayed at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library last fall. “Through decades of publishing the essential chronicle of the life of our city, NOW has amassed an archive that is a treasure chest for future historians and students of Toronto’s culture and evolution,” says Alice Klein (BA 1975 Woodsworth), who co-founded NOW in 1981 with Michael Hollett. “By donating to U of T, we were able to assure that the material is safely cared for and will be accessible to those who need it.”
The photos are among the first to be stored in U of T’s new film vault at Woodsworth College, one of the few facilities in Ontario designed specifically to preserve photographs and film.