When Avard Woolaver (Image Arts ’84) started taking photos of Toronto’s cityscape back in the ’80s during his degree at Ryerson, it was a big shift in focus from the rural farmland outside of Halifax where he’d grown up. “I’d have a course assignment to do, so I’d go out looking for things to capture and it would take me all over the city,” says Woolaver. “I’d just turned 22, and my photos were a way of reacting to this new environment. I liked that Ryerson was right downtown; you didn’t have to go far to see something interesting in the city.”
Woolaver lived in Toronto from 1980-86, and looking at the thousands of photos he took during his Toronto years has been a labour of love as he assembles the photos by year and theme into books. “Part of what this project really illustrates is all of the changes that have happened over the last 40 years. I have thousands of photos of Toronto, and going through and scanning them in batches is interesting. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and my former self. Some of the photos I can’t remember taking, some I can remember very clearly. It’s a journey of rediscovery for me,” he says.
His Ryerson years were momentous, says Woolaver, because of the connections he made, the professors he had and the skills he learned. “My experience at Ryerson helped me realize that even after your interest is no longer your profession, it can still be a big part of your creative life.”