News / Toronto

TTC project aims for the art of lost items

One man lost his songbook and guitar on the TTC...15 years worth of original compositions, gone.

A student lost a cellphone with a year's worth of daily selfies, taken as part of an art project.

One man, now near the end of his life, lost Gladys, the love of his life, in 1969. He’s hoping to find her again.

The Things We Lost is an upcoming Art in Transit project that will appear on billboards and digital monitors in subway stations this fall. It’s created by Labspace studios, based on real stories of things lost submitted by the public. August 20 is the last day for submissions from the public, which can be made at

The idea behind the project is twofold, according to director/curator Laura Mendes.

“The first is functional—we do hope that in creating these lost and found portraits we can connect people with their lost things, but there’s another side of the project that is a little more ephemeral,” she said. “We want to work with people who want to let go of their lost things. By working with us, they’re paying tribute to the past that cannot be changed.”

A wayward ring

On my way home from work one night last winter, shortly after I was married, I dropped my engagement ring into the fare box at Yonge and Bloor station along with my change. At first, I laughed. Only me—who loses, drops and breaks everything—could manage that.

Then I learned that the man in the booth couldn’t get my ring out of there.

It turns out no one can access the inside of a fare box. The man in the booth called his supervisor. The three of us stood there, staring at the ring. I was panicking. It wasn’t only my engagement ring, it had belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother.

The supervisor informed me that, actually, I wasn't the only one to do this. It’s happened before and the TTC has a system in place to deal with it.

When the TTC employee drops the bottom out of the fare box, my ring and all the change will go into a bag which will be labelled, the contents sorted and my ring delivered to the Lost and Found office at Bay station. I’ll get a call when it gets there, he said.

A couple of days, he said. Tops.

I didn’t hear anything. I started called customer service constantly and took to dropping by the lost and found office, increasingly worried that something had gone wrong—and I was responsible for the loss of four generations of family history and what was supposed to be the symbol of my lifelong love.

Then, three weeks later, I got the call. It was found.

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