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  • My Toronto – My Story Part Two
  • David Crighton

My Toronto – My Story Part Two

My Toronto – My Story Part Two
 
David Crighton My City My Toronto 70s  

Central Tech and 84 Yorkville 

This story is about my path as an artist, but also the running thread in the blog is about my life as an illustrator. An underlying theme here is the idea that anyone has the ability to carve out a wonderful career by staying the course and becoming really good at one thing.
 
It didn’t start with a business plan. It didn’t even really start with a plan at all. If anything, it was equal parts circumstance, happenstance, being ready for an opportunity, a competitive spirit and plain old fashioned hard work.
In every person there’s a voice, a vision that is unique. As a teenager you can’t see that, but when you’re able to look back, or look sideways at those with success, it becomes obvious.
 
This story starts 1972 when I decided to blow off a school assignment to shoot pool on Yorkville Avenue. I was 19. A reprieve from a day at school sounded pretty good. 
 
David Crighton 1972

Artist and Illustrator David Crighton circa 1972

You have to first understand the culture that was the “Central Tech” art department. It was very much a come-as-you-go atmosphere. I would think nothing of wandering the halls between classes. That was totally cool. Everyone did. The art department did not seem to have much in the way of structure. From my point of view, this was everything I always hoped school could be.
Central Tech Toronto 
Central Tech was a massive school that had turned out legions of technical students since the turn of the century. I don’t know that there is anything quite like it in Toronto. Staring up at the grand entrance you’d swear you were about to enter the halls of an Ivy league University.
No one can deny the schools regal structure, but the art department was anything but structured. Unlike the technical students turned out to instantly fill a job position, most of the art students were expanding their thinking about art and growing up all at the same time. It was more like a college in that it was largely left to us to supply our own drive and find a direction to pursue.
 
Don’t get me wrong, Central Tech is not without its pedigree,
A.J. Casson, Joyce Wieland, Robert Steward Hyndman, Aba Bayefsky all studied in these halls. Highly respected artists Charles Goldhammer, Doris McCarthy, Bobs Cogill Haworth, Elizabeth Wyn Wood, Virginia Luz, Donald Neddeau, and others all taught at Central Technical School.
Central Technical School, Toronto - David Crighton's Alma Mater
 
 A bit of history. In 1929, Peter Haworth a Royal College trained artist and designer from England, was appointed head of the art department. The conditions of his hiring included and encouraged the development of his own personal creative work. To this day, the majority of the art staff devotes a sizeable amount of time towards the development and promotion of their own work. This feature is significant to the school’s tradition. The legion of graduates often became ranking artists in Toronto, and made national names for themselves in all artistic disciplines, including graphic design, illustration, stage design, painting, sculpture, and ceramics. 
Central Tech Art Department unknown artist
 
 
Around the start of the 20th century, the northwest limit of the city was essentially Bloor and Spadina. It was here that the horse-drawn trolleys of the Toronto Street Railway turned off Bloor Street and made their way south towards the lakefront. Early suburbia!
Where Central Tech now stands was a large apple orchard owned by members of the Saywell family. As early as 1888, the Association of Stationary Engineers had requested the City Council to consider the establishment of a school for technical training to meet the need for skilled workers for Toronto’s booming industries.
Historic Toronto Central Technical School Art
Originally the school mainly catered to older students with the classes being held in the evenings so that employees could attend after work.
Judging from the era of the cars in these images, these images depicts the school in the 1920s. The building looks more like Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey than a Toronto School.
 
 
In 1955, Charles Goldhammer, painter, illustrator and draughtsman became Head of Art. Under his leadership, the new art building known as the Art Centre was built in 1961. In this new facility, fully equipped studios were designed to accommodate a new generation of students. This wing is where I spent much of my time.
Central Tech Toronto
However the assignment of the day was to get the heck out of the school and go draw something! It wasn’t as if we’d been chained to our desks, but this opportunity practically begged for some extra curricular activities. I must say that Carlos and I started out with nothing in mind. Nothing in mind but to get as quickly away from school before someone changed their mind about this idea...
The El Mocambo, Toronto,  Series 3 by David Crighton
Want to know the story of My "El Mocambo" print?  Look forward to upcoming blog posts for that interesting tale.
Subscribe below to receive My Toronto - My Story Part 3 where I will tell you the story of the very day that I created my first "Architectural" Drawing - the one that started it all 
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  • David Crighton

Comments on this post (11)

  • Mar 05, 2016

    Seems like yesterday that we were at Central Tech!! Congrats on your work. It’s wonderful.

    — Google/Lori tipper

  • Feb 25, 2016

    New to the site, my name is Rico from Cincinnati, Ohio United States of America. I Just found 3 signed, numbered earlier prints (El Motambo Tavern, Maple Leaf Hall & Massey Hall). I called the number on David’s site and spoke to a very nice lady I believe her name was Pam who told me that they were from his earlier work. I noticed that each piece was slightly different from his current prints of the same venues. I could not be more excited, I love the detailed work, and they look awesome on display in my home.
    Rico Booker
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    — Rico Booker

  • Feb 24, 2016

    Hi David – this post is incredible. I am currently a teacher at the Art Centre (ceramics and painting, among other things). It’s so wonderful to hear stories like this from alumni who have worked before us in this amazing space. Thank you!

    — Jen Leis

  • Feb 24, 2016

    Hi David – this post is incredible. I am currently a teacher at the Art Centre (ceramics and painting, among other things). It’s so wonderful to hear stories like this from alumni who have worked before us in this amazing space. Thank you!

    — Jen Leis

  • Feb 22, 2016

    Hello David – I think I might have met you earlier in life. Did you have a brother, Ian and was your father, Pender Crichton who had a studio in St.Catherines and was related to Margaret & Robert “Bob” Crichton?

    — Evan Butchers

  • Feb 20, 2016

    Hi David
    It’s me -my dadwad a stationary engineer and his dad was and you are the only I know that recognizes that position! Means a lot to me

    — Gail Taylor

  • Feb 16, 2016

    Say David,

    Where was this pool table on Yorkville Avenue??

    Cliff

    — Cliff

  • Feb 14, 2016

    You must of went to Dinkles or PWD in Yorkville great party plac

    — Bill Lloyd

  • Feb 14, 2016

    My Husband went their in the 50 Ty’s , he took Dry Cleaning , went back to school, went to teachers collage, teaching Dry Cleaning.

    — Yvonne Gostick

  • Feb 13, 2016

    I remember those early days David…I bought one of your earliest calendars and have framed some of the prints. Love your artwork now :)

    — Nancy McGuire

  • Feb 13, 2016
    LOL —I remember those days and look back on the adventure it was. It still is wink emoticon never stopped learning and discovering. The traditional graphic techniques can still be used today without the need of computers. A few times others see my graphics and ask -‘What computer program is that?’ It is just basic illustration with the good old paper and pencil!

    Sure Dave —it seems like last week we went to CTS lol

    — Brian Denyer

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