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What is Alternative Toronto? A digital archive and exhibition space that documents the history of alternative communities in the Greater Toronto Area from 1980 to 1999.

Our mandate: We focus on local resistance cultures in politics and the arts that were rooted in radical, grassroots and do-it-yourself movements, and we’re especially interested in materials that bridge both spheres. 

From the archive’s launch in 2017, we’ve prioritized members of communities that are underrepresented in traditional archives and historical accounts, and have built an infrastructure that invites contributors to describe and contextualize their materials in their own words. We are keenly aware that documentary heritage covering this time period has privileged cisgender, heteronormative, white, abled, middle-class and male narratives and we actively give space to lived experiences that provide different perspectives on this history. 

Who we are: Alternative Toronto is directed by Dr. Lilian Radovac, who is a media and cultural historian and member of the Archive/Counter-Archive network. It’s guided by an advisory collective whose founding members include researcher Sophie Toupin (McGill), archivist Sarah R. Demb (Harvard) and author Cory Doctorow. Historian Simon Vickers, documentary artist Sylvia Nowak and archivists Jessica Lapp and Tamara Rayan have worked with the project as research assistants. Pete Gray is our webmaster.

What it covers: Activism, art, music, theatre, dance, publishing, bookselling, cinema, education, health care, computing, housing, and more.

What we want: Posters, flyers, zines, pamphlets, manifestos, meeting minutes, photographs, artwork, cassette recordings, video footage, setlists, playbills, stories, essays, reflections, correspondence, newspaper clippings and code.

How to submit materials: Click the Contribute menu tab and read the Contributor’s Guide for instructions on how to create an account and submit materials online, or watch this short screencast. Contact us if you need help or have materials you’d like us to digitize for you.

Are there other ways to contribute? Yes! Anyone with an approved guest account can also comment on submissions, which will help us to provide more information and context. We also invite community members to join the advisory collective to help us manage the archive. Contact us for more info.

Something not working? Email support@alternativetoronto.ca

Crediting the archive: We encourage visitors to activate the material we’re collecting in your own work. We only ask that you credit the archive and honour the work of the people who created the materials (creators), the people who collected and preserved them (sources) and the archivists and community members who took the time to scan, upload and contextualize the materials (contributors). You can do this by using the citation information at the bottom of each item record.

Legal note: Alternative Toronto is a non-commercial and non-profit web-based digital archive that makes materials related to the history of Toronto’s alternative communities available to site users for the purposes of research, private study, education, criticism and review. By entering the site, you agree to use exhibited materials for these purposes and according to the licensing terms that have been selected by contributors. For general contribution guidelines or to read our takedown policy, click here. The complete Terms and Conditions are here.

Land acknowledgement: This project is hosted on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and most recently the Mississaugas of the Credit River. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land and invite visitors to learn more about past and present-day resistance to (neo)colonization across Turtle Island. 

Alternative Toronto has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License