Posts by Jane Collison

Creating Content for the Masses: 1960’s England Through My Granddad’s Eyes

Posted on December 20, 2013

I cut this mini movie together using 16mm footage from my Granddad Harvey’s trip to England in the 60’s. What struck me most during my first few look-throughs, was how seemingly generic his choice of subject matter was and that there was nearly 30 minutes running time of it.


Assuming that the equipment Harvey was carrying was pretty bulky, that setup would have taken some time and that film as well as processing would have been expensive, I couldn’t imagine what was he doing pulling over to the side of the road to film sheep.

In fact, my first thought was, it’s the kind of images people today, with limitless digital storage and Facebook walls to fill, fire off at will. We’ve all got a keen eye for “sharable” content that has mass appeal and is intentionally none too personal, so that even those in our wider circles will find it interesting.

That was my takeaway at least, until my Dad saw a few clips and told me with a laugh,

“Harvey took all that footage to just show the people back home how backwards things were over there”.

Well that changes things. We’re actually watching something made for the consumption of a wider audience! Not the same collection of acquaintances and networkers we have in mind when we take a photo to be published on our social media feeds today of course, but an audience non-the less.

Add to this, the fact that the trip would have been Harvey’s first encounter with the old world (his family moved north with the British Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution) and the steam trains and market scenes were all as alien to him as to a time traveller. Perhaps even more so considering all the British period dramas get on TV.

All this has led me to question the extent to which our constant access to such a large audience, has changed the way we document our lives and perhaps even to some extent, changed the way we value our personal experiences.

And I wonder if having the above information will change the way you view the film if you play it second time?

Mobilised & Empowered: Justin Trudeau’s Volunteers Are A Force To Be Reckoned With

Posted on May 2, 2013

I’m young and I’ve never joined a political campaign before. I’m educated, underemployed, I’ve traveled widely and lived in other countries. I have real concerns about where this country is heading but I also know there are many reasons to be deeply optimistic about what the future could be like and I am not unique. Last week was National Volunteer Appreciation in Canada and I had the pleasure of finally meeting the man so many of us volunteers have devoted countless hours to in support. What struck me most about seeing everyone gathering in one room was, how much we all have in common. Bright, energetic, multicultural and willing to give our time, how did Justin corner the market on this resource that has gone seemingly…

Canadian Food Is The Lack Thereof

Posted on April 9, 2013

What is Canadian food anyways? Ever been asked this and wondered what to say? After living in central Europe and entertaining guests from the region in Canada, this question has come up a lot and is usually broached with a discernable air of cultural superiority from the European side. So, I often find myself on the defensive. With food being such a big part of national identity in other countries, it seems implied that Canada is in some way lacking in sophistication. In this country though, questions that relate to identity are never easily answered. To ask “what is Canadian food?” also forced one to make some kind assumption about who might be eating this food. And since anyone could be Canadian, the answer…

The Mighty Reds

Posted on March 21, 2013

Definitely not known for being one of the best clubs in the world but you could say the fans are. Most of us don’t go to see the team win, just to enjoy each other’s company, some good weather and huge pints of beer. Canada’s first Major League Soccer Team was born in 2007 and known the world over, not for its players but its extremely supportive and enthusiastic fans. In fact they are a textbook legend for any new sports club trying to muster a following. Toronto fans have helped make the club one of MLS’ most successful franchises right from the start. In fact, the Toronto Football Club had been profitable since its first year with regular sellouts and sold-out seasons tickets.…

Let’s Go To The Ex

Posted on March 19, 2013

Attracting crowds for over 130 years now the Ex is a much loved summer to-do that everyone has memories of visiting when they were a kid. Staples include soft-server ice-cream, Tiny Tom Donuts and rickety midway rides.

Every August The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) lights up Exhibition Place during the 18 days leading up to and including Labour Day Monday. Approximately 5.3 million people visit every year making it Canada’s largest fair and the seventh largest in North America.

Originally the focus of the fair was on agriculture and technology, featuring such events as the Butter Churning Competition in the Dairy Amphitheater. These days though, the focus is much more on the food.

You can get just about anything deep fired, even butter and an enjoy a hamburger in between doughnuts or two grilled cheese sandwiched (my favorite!) There are also as many options when it comes to pulled pork… basically, if you can dream it, you will find it in the food building.

While these days you’ll find the rides on the expensive side, about 5 bucks a pop, and the betting games stacked against you, the nostalgia is wonderful! I had not been in years and I think, probably in another decade, I’ll be hankering for go on the gravitron again.

I would be needing to go back sooner but now, I hear you can get a burger between two grilled cheese sammys in Kensington Market at the Burgernator, so I think I’ll be saving up calories for that.

Trinity Bellwoods Farmer’s Market

Posted on June 5, 2012

You can say that buying organic is a fad if you like but once you’ve had fresh-off-the-farm food that has been lovingly grown and harvested, you suddenly remember what “real food” tastes like. Take a look at these Ontario Strawberries!  Remember? With long stems and a delicate green fringe of leaves, they are nothing like those big watery ones you get at the grocery store you have to cut the top off of.  Since these were the first pick they were a little on the sour side but so tasty! Next week a basket should be going for $5 and you can return the basket from your previous week’s purchase. If fruits and veg are not you main priority there is plenty more at…

Sip Scotch In Style Like Daniel Craig: Wicked Gift Idea

Posted on December 16, 2011

A few months ago I got it into my head that I needed some serious scotch glasses. After that scotch glasses were all I could see, cropping up in movies, TV shows, home magazines. Seriously, the same glasses I finally got were later featured front and centre with Daniel Craig on the cover of Esquire in August. When starting the hunt for the perfect set my first impulse was look for antiques. Especially since I wanted crystal and they would be something I’d keep forever. Generally, I always prefer antiques. There’s nothing better than hunting something down that’s unique and you really like. But I never found what I was looking for in the right price range. That is until a trip to The Bay…

The Closest Experience to a European X-Mas Market Torontonians Can Get

Posted on December 14, 2011

Toronto Christmas Market Distillery District High-res version

If you not familiar with the European Christmas Market concept, it’s basically a really fun outdoor experience in which friends get together to sip hot mulled wine while they try to keep warm.

European Christmas Markets traditionally pop up in city squares around the beginning of December. They’re a great place to get local handcrafts as well as backed goods and meats from small businesses that set up shop in little huts.

The coolest handcrafts the Toronto Christmas Market were at Handcrafted Coinart by Cordo & Emily. They take antique coins and turn them into pendants for a necklaces by carving out the images in them so they’re free floating.

The highlight though, at least for me, is the mulled wine. It goes by many names in Europe. For the Austrians it’s Glühwein, the Scandinavians call is Glögg and the variations continue. The base of the drink though is all the same. Hot red wine simmered with various warm spices like cinnamon and some added sugar.

Recently markets in Europe have started experimenting with mixtures adding rum and other flavors but the mulled wine served at the Toronto Christmas Market is closer to the traditional recipe.

If you’re interested in making it yourself it’s a great touch at a Holiday party and there’s a really easy ‘cheat’ to making it. Most people in Europe buy “mulled wine teabags” full of all the right spice that you drop into a pot of simmering red wine on the stove top. Luckily, you can pick up these teabags at the Reithers Fine Food International booth. For a liter of wine you just need to use two bags and you should use a red wine you would actually drink on its own (don’t go too cheap). Once the teabags have steeped for about 15 minutes, add sugar to taste. One cup should be plenty. Too much sugar and you’ll feel it in the morning.

Make sure you checke this Christmas Market out, it’s all over on the 18th December and makes a great change of pace!


Graz: In the Heart of Styria

Posted on December 3, 2011

Its “Old Town” is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe. As a city, Graz was culturally important for centuries and was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. It’s about an hours drive southwest from Vienna and you don’t need more than a day to have a look around. I got lucky on a day with some sunny weather which is not too common.


The Best Flea Markets Are in Berlin: Flohmarkt Mauerpark

Posted on December 2, 2011

For quality vintage you would pay a fortune for in some cities, Berlin’s got it in bulk and cheap. My must go-to market when in town is the one at Mauerpark. I even arrange trips around being there on a Sunday (the only day it’s open).  Trust me, you’ll wish you hade a shipping container to load up when you visit this market. We showed up before noon on a cold and rainy early spring Sunday in a part of town that seemed industrial and barren. After a short walk from the subway station to Bernauer Strasse we finally we fell into the hordes of people, both locals and tourists, funneling into the grounds to spend the afternoon. You don’t have to worry about…