Picturing the Ward

Commissioned by Infrastructure Ontario on behalf of the Province of Ontario, this exhibit produced in collaboration with the Toronto Ward Museum and PA System showcases the rich heritage of its site through site-specific artwork and oral histories.


Location: Downtown Toronto (11 Centre Ave, Toronto)

Artist(s): PA System, Kellen Hatanaka

Year: 2016

Services: PATCH Hoarding Exhibits


sq. ft. of public artwork


families who shared oral histories and photographs


“These stories are not unlike your stories. Many of us can trace our roots to distant lands. We should think of that journey, the love, hardship and perseverance it took to get us here today, and let the memory of these struggles inspire us towards building a more just and inclusive society for us all.”
– Inspired by the words of Nelson Wong, Picturing the Ward participant


Infrastructure Ontario hired STEPS to develop a commissioned hoarding exhibit for the new Toronto Courthouse construction site inspired by the unique history of this provincially owned site, which was once part of St. John’s Ward (the Ward), a settlement for many of Toronto’s first immigrants.
Picturing the Ward invited viewers to discover this historic neighbourhood through the words and life stories of former residents of the Ward residents and their descendants. The exhibit was produced in collaboration with The Toronto Ward Museum and artistic duo PA System.

Drawing inspiration from the site’s multicultural heritage, this visually dynamic exhibit showcased a collection of images of these artifacts, as well as the personal stories and photographs from six Torontonians who trace their ancestral roots to the historic neighbourhood. Picturing the Ward explored issues of belonging, family, labour, citizenship and identity, and spoke to the shared experiences of migrants who left their countries of origin to look for new opportunities in Toronto.

The exhibit included family photos shared by Ward descendants, archival imagery, as well as site-specific artwork including artifacts recovered during archaeological excavation and family heirlooms contributed by the Ward descendants. Original artwork created by PA System included images of artifacts recovered during the site’s archaeological excavation, as well as objects and family heirlooms of the Ward’s descendants and former residents. The artists used cyanotype, a turn-of-the-century photographic printing process resembling an X-ray, to create this unique and exciting work, as well as sign painter enamel also used during the same period.

The work was launched in late 2016 and was accessible to all members of the public until March 2018. For full exhibit content, please visit the Toronto Ward Museum website.


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