News / Toronto

Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives planning accessiblity upgrade

The non-profit, housed on Isabella Street, is the largest independent LGBTQ archives in the world.

The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives have been preserving the LGBTQ community's history since 1973.

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The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives have been preserving the LGBTQ community's history since 1973.

It’s already home to pageant tiaras, leather vests, and countless newspaper articles and photos.

Now the word’s largest independent gay and lesbian archives is planning a facelift, so that everyone can enjoy it.

Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives executive director Raegan Swanson said the non-profit hopes to start a renovation as soon as possible to make the historic three-storey building on Isabella Street in Toronto more accessible for those with mobility issues.

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“It’s a huge amount of work that needs to be done,” Swanson said. “You can’t get to our second floor without the elevator and that’s a huge issue.”

At city council’s last meeting of 2016, councillors voted to release $45,750 from a nearby development deal for the upgrades. This money goes into a pot that will hopefully include funds from an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant the non-profit has applied for, Swanson said.

The money will go towards building an elevator and accessible ramps, as well as making the bathrooms larger.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said it’s important the public archives “lives up to its aspirations” to become more accessible.

“Full and equal participation is absolutely key in order for us to build an inclusive world for them, and this is just one small gesture in order for them to do so,” she said.

For Swanson, the archives are key to ensuring the stories of LGBTQ people, not often found in history books, are told.

“Making sure that those stories pass through to the new generation and making sure that people are aware of the history that happens, and how the history has influenced what’s happening now,” she said.

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