Experiencing Canada’s cultural mosaic—Heritage walking tours

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has partnered with local heritage groups to host guided heritage walking tours in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. These heritage walks give participants the opportunity to experience first-hand how history, geography and society have intertwined and helped to create Canada’s cultural mosaic, all one step at a time.

Experiencing Canada’s cultural mosaic—Heritage walking tours

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Transcript: “Experiencing Canada’s cultural mosaic—Heritage walking tours”

Video length: 7:17 minutes

A white background with a black and red abstract floral pattern is shown.

An old black and white photo of a harbour comes into view. The harbour is later replaced by a wilderness photo.

The photos are replaced by a montage of full screen silhouettes depicting the cityscapes of Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Text displays: Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.

A smaller inset frame appears showing a montage of black and white photos depicting various aspects of urban life.

The silhouetted cityscapes are replaced by a black, white and red abstract floral patterned background as the inset montage of urban life continues.

Narrator: Step into history. Step into culture. Step into the unique and dynamic nature of some of Canada’s biggest cities. Heritage walking tours shine a spotlight on how our country’s immigrant communities have influenced and changed the distinct personalities of Canada’s major urban centres, taking visitors to the neighbourhoods and sites where it all began. Heritage walking tours are a chance to see how history, geography and society have intertwined and helped to create Canada’s cultural mosaic, all one step at a time.

A large black bordered box appears containing silhouetted skylines.

Text displays: The Heritage Walk

The text “Montréal” appears against a background of a full screen montage showing the sights and landmarks of urban Montréal.

A French speaking narrator is shown in front of an escalator inside a building.

Text displays: Dinu Bumbaru - Heritage Walk Guide, Montréal.

Narrator: Walking tours of the city are a chance to meet new people and see the city together. Cross-cultural exchanges are as much a part of these tours as they are a part of what the participants are viewing: a city that is, understandably, the result of the hard work of many communities.

The arched entrance to Montréal’s Chinatown is shown. The narrator speaks to a group of tourists on a street corner in urban Montréal. A montage of Montréal’s Chinatown is shown.

Narrator: The Chinese are here now. They took over from the previous community, Jewish and Irish. Saint-Laurent Boulevard is a synthesis of all that.

A montage depicting urban Montréal during various historical periods is intermittently shown as screen shots switch back and forth between the narrator speaking alone and the narrator conducting a guided tour.

Narrator: The arrival of immigrants on Saint-Laurent Boulevard did not immediately translate into foreign architecture, did it? That is more common in residential neighbourhoods. Saint-Laurent is a commercial street, and the immigrants’ presence was visible in the types of businesses and how the buildings were used. Plus, when people arrive here, they don’t always have the financial means to construct large buildings, such as the ones that were built along Saint-Laurent in the 19th century.

One person who rented from the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste was Mrs. Steinberg, a woman of Jewish heritage from central Europe, who came here, set up a grocery store and built an empire. Her business sense was every bit as innovative as her eye for detail with food. And, from a practical point of view, open-front refrigerators were invented in Montréal’s grocery stores.

To me, Montréal is an incredible fusion of history, geography and culture. The city’s culture is very unique and very Canadian at the same time. That is Montréal: French at heart, multicultural by nature.

The text “Toronto” appears against a background of a full screen montage showing the sights and landmarks of urban Toronto.

A male narrator is shown standing outside among the downtown high rises.

Text displays: Gary Miedema - Associate Director, Heritage Toronto.

Narrator: The tours are a perfect way to introduce people to the city, to give them a sense of place, to welcome them and give them some stories to tell.

A female narrator is shown outside conducting a guided tour.

Narrator: And in 1924 those Pasquale Bros created the Unico brand. I didn’t know this brand was created by two newcomers, Italian newcomers, Italian immigrants coming to the ward in the early 1900s.

A male narrator is shown standing outside among the downtown high rises.

Narrator: The tour itself, as you move through it, you learn about these four cultural communities. You learn, and what you learn about them is they faced common challenges and they had some common tools to deal with those challenges, which is finding comfort amongst each other, building institutions to help serve them and their neighbours, and working together really to build a better place. And the story of these cultural communities is they helped to build the city. They faced challenges. They did their best to overcome them. And in doing so, they made this place a better place.

A female narrator is shown conducting a guided tour.

Narrator: So we have the story of James Deer and this guy, he’s an Irishman and he immigrated to Toronto from Ireland and he applied to the House of Industry five years after coming to Toronto.

A female narrator speaks from a street corner in downtown Toronto. A montage of urban activity is shown intermittently as she speaks.

Text displays: Marta Keller – Heritage Walk Guide – Toronto.

Narrator: Well, the reaction to these walks has been really, really positive. People from different kind of backgrounds are joining me during the tours, so I’m getting newcomers, but I’m also getting locals from Toronto, which means that that discussion about immigration is consistently during the tours. So I encourage them to share their thoughts, share their experiences and talk about the current situation and where we are now and what are the themes we should talk about, looking to the future.

The male narrator is shown standing outside among the downtown high rises.

Narrator: At key stops when stories are told, you can see the lights go on, you can see people nodding their heads and understanding. You can see them connecting with some of the historical characters that we talk about. And we’ve had the response that, you know, now I know some stories that I can go home and tell my family and friends. And I think that’s… that’s one of the best responses you can get. You want them to have a sense of the city so now that they can pass it on and tell others.

The text “Vancouver” appears against a background of a full screen montage showing the sights and landmarks of urban Vancouver.

A male narrator is shown standing in a residential urban setting.

Text displays: John Atkin – Heritage Walk Guide, Vancouver, B.C.

A montage of urban activity is shown intermittently as he speaks.

Narrator: Well, I think these tours are really interesting and I think a really good tool to promote sort of that understanding of different cultures in certainly a city like Vancouver. A population of over 40 percent Asian in Vancouver, we tend to forget sometimes that the city is actually way more diverse than that.

A neighbourhood like Strathcona historically has been the first port of call for many folks that have called Vancouver home, and so when you walk through a neighbourhood like this you may not see it, you know, out front advertising itself as, you know, here was the spot where so and so lived. But it is an immigrant neighbourhood and we can see that on a walk like this.

The narrator is shown conducting a guided tour. A montage of urban heritage buildings is shown intermittently as he speaks.

Narrator: And many of the early Ukrainian immigrants, the only way they could get involved in the fishing was to crew on a Japanese boat. And so you had the Ukrainians crewing for the Japanese and then you had the Japanese and the Ukrainians jointly owning boats and various things like that. And so you had this again, you know, cross-cultural things where you wouldn’t actually expect that kind of thing.

We have the obvious things like Benny’s Italian grocery store here. We’ve got a Portuguese grocery further down the block. Those are kind of the obvious hits. But we’ll walk past the church who’s had four or five different congregations of different nationalities. The school was once known as the little League of Nations: 33 different languages at the school.

So a tour like this just opens up that world and I think shines a light on stuff that, you know, people are kind of vaguely aware of, but not really very aware of it.

The narrator is shown conducting a guided tour. An old black and white photo of a First Nations community is shown intermittently as he speaks.

Narrator: So all of a sudden, like 51, 52, 53, the Chinese population really increases here in the neighbourhood.

When you add in First Nations’ history that’s here, the Musqueam First Nation, which we’re on traditional territory of, they’re present on their village site on the Fraser River. They actually offer a tour through the Heritage Foundation of Musqueam sites.

You have places that have First Nations’ names. You have roads that are on top of trails. And so not only do we have our current history of that short period, we have a history that goes back thousands of years.

And I think that combination of a very present First Nations’ history and First Nations people, and the City of Vancouver history, makes this place totally fascinating.

A historical black and white photo of a busy urban street is shown full screen.

Text displays: Canada.ca/multiculturalism.

Narrator: To find out more about multiculturalism in Canada, please visit Canada.ca/multiculturalism.

Screen fades to black.

Text displays: Archival photos – McCord Museum – Title: News. Arthur Ellis Funeral – Author: Conrad Poirier – Year: 1938 – Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada corporate signature and the copyright message “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2015” are displayed followed by the Canada wordmark.

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