The Etobicoke Historical Society, one of the largest and longest serving historical not-for-profit organizations in Canada, is looking forward to the unveiling of a major project they initiated more than four years ago, a public art piece dedicated to Joshua Glover. The unveiling of the art piece by the City of Toronto will take place on July 30th at 8:30 am, at the new Joshua Glover Park at 4208 Dundas Street. West in Etobicoke.
In 2017, Joel Winter, then President of the Etobicoke Historical Society, presented to the board of this not-for-profit group an idea for a series of public art installations. The goal would be to use public art to celebrate noteworthy people and events shaping the history of Etobicoke. The History and Art in the Parks project was born, and after a review of several different historical figures and events, the board agreed unanimously to proceed with plans to see an art piece installed to celebrate Joshua Glover, a slave who ran away from his owner in St. Louis, Missouri in the spring of 1852 and ended up in Etobicoke.
While initiated by the Etobicoke Historical Society, the project could not have become a reality without the involvement of the City of Toronto. While it was a very long and complex process involving lobbying from the Etobicoke Historical Society and community leaders, the city did decide to make it a priority and worked on establishing the committees and processes for selecting the artist and placement of the piece.
“The Etobicoke Historical Society is thrilled to have this new piece of public art finally being revealed for all to not only enjoy visually, but as an important tool for learning about the history of our area.”, commented Joel Winter, former President of the Etobicoke Historical Society. “Back in 2017, we knew it would be a long haul to see this realized, but the board was committed to see it through. We could not be happier that the City of Toronto listened and acted, to help it become a reality. It really shows how local interest groups and the City can work together to create lasting legacies like this”.
Not only does the artwork celebrate an historic figure from Etobicoke’s past, it is also being realized by local Etobicoke artistic talent. Rexdale-born and raised artist Quentin VerCetty, who won the City of Toronto artist competition for the piece, said he felt a kinship with Joshua Glover as he designed his sculpture of the runaway slave wearing a suit and hat, clutching his freedom papers and books and looking toward the future, a mangled cyborg arm dangling chains behind him. In 2020, Mayor John Tory announced that Quentin VerCetty’s vision, unanimously chosen by the panel of art and history experts, would become a statue and a central part of a new Joshua Glover Park in Etobicoke.
In celebration, the Etobicoke Historical Society is encouraging all of its members, partners, and those in the local community to attend the opening of the park and the unveiling of the artwork. For more information on the society and its work, please visit www.etobicokehistorical.com
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