A&S student-made Kensington Market augmented reality app recognized with heritage award

March 2, 2018 by Sean Bettam - A&S News

An augmented reality app produced by Canadian Studies students in the Faculty of Arts & Science has received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement from the Ontario Heritage Trust.

The Kensington Market: Hidden Histories app, which guides users through a dynamic tour of 12 locations in Toronto’s historic Kensington Market and brings to life the layers of stories embedded in the area, was made possible by students in University College’s Digital Tools in a Canadian Context course. A companion online interactive map archives histories of a total of 32 locations.

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Heritage Trust chair Harvey McCue presented the award to some of the students behind the project at a ceremony last Friday at Queen’s Park.

Canadian Studies students received a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement, presented by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (second from right) and Harvey McCue, Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust (far right). (Ian Crysler, courtesy of the Ontario Heritage Trust)

“Receiving this award felt like it wasn’t just recognizing us students, but also the sites and locations in Kensington Market featured in our project,” said fourth-year student Arabhi Ratnajothy. “It is a reminder that so much of this city was built by immigrants who engrained themselves and their stories into the paths walked by today’s generations. We move towards the future by remembering the past.”

“Being selected for this award is such a terrific boost and affirmation for each of the students,” said course instructor Siobhan O’Flynn. “Having the opportunity to work on a project, be engaged in original research and contribute to the safeguarding of our city’s intangible cultural heritage as undergraduates is remarkable.”

Students worked with local tech developer No Campfire Required conducting extensive research in the City of Toronto and the Ontario Jewish archives, as well as interviews with Kensington Market residents and business owners.

“Throughout my years in the Canadian Studies program, I was always impressed by the fascinating research projects we were able to take part in with some amazing professors,” said recent graduate Nicole Paroyan. “I am so glad that a project spearheaded by Professor O’Flynn was recognized this way. None of this would have been possible without her.”

The award was one of 22 presented at the annual event recognizing contributions to cultural and natural heritage conservation, environmental sustainability and biodiversity by individuals and groups from across Ontario. Sociology students from the University of Toronto Scarborough also received an Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement for their work on a series of podcasts focusing on the theme of immigration and belonging in Scarborough.