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What is Alternative Toronto? A digital community archive of Toronto’s alternative cultures, scenes and spaces of the 1980s and 1990s.

Our mandate: To document the history of Toronto’s alternative communities from 1980 to 1998 by creating a digital repository to which anyone with materials can contribute. Alternative Toronto uses open source archival tools to help visitors learn about this history in a way that is publicly accessible and in the public interest. As historians, archivists and activists, we are committed to the practice of critical community history.

Who we are: Alternative Toronto is coordinated by Dr. Lilian Radovac, who is a media and cultural historian at the University of Toronto and the project’s lead investigator. It’s guided by an ad hoc 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 archivist Jessica Lapp are the project's research assistants. Pete Gray is our webmaster.

What it covers: Radical, countercultural, anti-racist and trans/feminist/queer 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.

We’re also looking for addresses, leases, rent receipts, social assistance cheque stubs, student loan documents, and other items that will help us to document the spaces these cultures happened in.

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 a 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

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 resistance to (neo)colonization across Turtle Island. 

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

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