If you’ve never heard of the Junction’s colourful past, next time you’re in the neighbourhood walking along the retail strip, look up.
On lamp posts from Quebec Avenue east to Indian Grove you’ll see the newly installed Business Improvement Area (BIA) banners; five different examples each depicting one of the area’s crucial points in history. Such as the fact that the Junction was once its own city, the City of West Toronto, or that the Junction remained dry for almost a century only resuming the sale of alcohol in 2000. The banners also highlight the Junction’s close proximity to four railway lines known as the West Toronto Diamond and its one-time dependency on the Canadian Pacific Railway for business.
Thirty-seven banners were installed, according to Junction BIA executive director Kristina Skindelyte, who said there are plans to add more. The BIA’s streetscape committee put a call out to local designers about a year ago. Relatively new Junction resident and graphic designer Andrew Ratz’s submissions impressed the committee.
“I just got really excited,” said Ratz of the project. “The Junction was one of the areas I most wanted to do because it’s an up-and-coming area.”
Ratz, who only came to Toronto two years ago first settling on Parkside Drive before moving to the Junction a year ago, had to do his own research. He chose historical snippets that most intrigued him.
“I wanted to give the Junction more of a story rather than just creating colourful banners,” Ratz said. “I wanted to give the banners an old look.”
He said he was inspired in part by the antique shops that sprinkle the neighbourhood’s main street.
“I wanted to promote the fact that it is a historic area – it has roots that other areas in Toronto don’t have,” he said.
While living on Parkside Drive, the Junction was a favourite spot he’d frequent.
“I’m a hipster, I buy a lot of antiques,” Ratz admitted.
The London native studied graphic design at Fanshawe College for three years before moving to Toronto. Ratz can take credit for designing posters for the Junction BIA’s Summer Solstice event and its Movies Under the Stars.
Ratz even lives along the retail strip and can see one of his banners from his window.
For further details, visit www.andrewratz.com