Things We Keep

The Things We Keep: A Material History of Toronto’s Public Health

Commemorative Cigarette Box (1940) Rorschach Test Slides (c. 1958) Wax Moulage of a Syphilitic Lesion (c. 1924-1935) Executive Officer's Badge, Ezras Noshem Society (1917)  Bust of Frederick Banting (1949) Povitsky Bottle (1950s) MAICO Model 53C Audiometer (1930) Soloid Water and Sewage Analysis Case (c. 1900) Model Tikanaagan (mid 20th c.) Chambers' Micromanipulator (c. 1929)


The artefacts that come down to us from the past are more than keepsakes; they are material documents of past people and communities. They can, if we consider them carefully, give us new ways of understanding the past and new approaches to familiar stories. The history of public health, a vast topic touching many aspects of society and culture, can be appreciated through the variety of objects that survive.

Begun in March of 2015 for The Public’s Health Symposium, this exhibit explores the many facets of Toronto’s public health history through a diverse collection of objects. It also celebrates the community of historians, curators, health workers, and others, who safeguard these objects and explore their historical meaning.