Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Researching the Don

Recently I've noticed quite a few hits on this blog from educational institutions. Presumably students are searching for information on the Don or related topics. While it's nice that people are learning about the Don from the Don Watcher blog, I don't pretend to be the best source for information.

If you are doing research on the Don there are a number of sources that I like to use. The best source of course is to actually visit the Don regularly and see what's happening. Since the Don is a big place this isn't alway practicable.

If you looking for planning documents the best place is the Urban Affairs library of the Toronto Public Library. It is located on the first floor at Metro Hall, 55 John St. in downtown Toronto. They have a large collection of material related to the Don. A couple of years ago, I did an inventory of the material and produced an annotated bibliography. It needs updating so don't assume it is comprehensive. However it is extensive. The library has also developed a fact sheet on the Don. It too is out of date.

Another good source for information is the Toronto Archives. I found it useful when doing research on items of historic nature such as my Wikipedia article on the Belt Line Railway. Another source for historic information is the Toronto Harbour Commission archives now maintained by the Toronto Port Authority. I have never been there personally but I have been told it is quite useful especially for information on the lower portion of the river, eg. the Don Improvement Project.

Lastly, a good but sporadic source of information is the agenda and minutes of City Committees. In particular, Economic Development and Parks, Works, Planning and Transportation, and Toronto and East York Community Council. The city posts the agenda about a month before the meeting and the minutes about 3-6 months after the meeting. Over the past year I have posted lists of agenda items that I think are important (search the blog for 'city documents' or 'agenda'). You can do your own searches but I have had limited success with the search facility on the city's website.

I hope this helps anyone writing a paper or for some other research purpose. Like I said, you could reference Don Watcher (how do you cite a weblog?), but it's probably best to go to the source. Happy studies!

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