My flip-book explores Varsity Stadium’s iconic place in the city and my own family’s history.
Situated at the north boundary of University of Toronto campus, Varsity Stadium has been home to more than a century’s worth of U of T athletics, the home of the Toronto Argonauts until 1959 and host to many international tournaments. The current stadium is the third incarnation as an athletic centre on the site since 1898. Originally just athletic grounds, a stadium was built in 1911, which was demolished in 2002 for the construction of the current stadium. In the 1950s with the use of temporary bleachers, the stadium held up to 27,000 people and was the host of more Grey Cups than any other facility in the country. Football was extremely popular in Toronto in the 1950s, far exceeding today’s interest in it. The Argo’s performance was a source of pride for the city, with Varsity Stadium at its heart physically and emotionally.
Collected from the CBC archives my flip-book uses as its source the 1950 Grey Cup game played between The Toronto Argonauts (the winners) and The Winnipeg Blue Bombers. There are several reasons for selecting this particular source: The game was the first live televised football game in Canada; it was also the first sold-out Grey Cup game ever; my grandfather, Ted Toogood, was Captain of the Argos from 1950 to 1952; and the wet weather conditions created the infamous “Mud Bowl” game.
The Mud Bowl of 1950 On November 24, 1950, the night before the game, a big snowfall hit Toronto. However, the next morning the temperature then rose to 10 C leaving a soggy mess of a playing field. Players slipped, slid and fell all over the field, barely being able to grasp the ball. Covered in mud, the players are nearly indistinguishable from each other, so in the footage just about anyone could be my grandfather.
My flip-book is a small tribute to my grandfather and his role in shaping Toronto. In 1950 the city was just about to crest to a population of 1 million people and to undergo an incredible transformation into a multicultural, sprawling metropolis. It’s hard now to think of what a ‘small town’ Toronto was in the 1950s where Ted was considered a local “star”. Unfortunately, Ted passed away in 2011 of Alzheimer’s disease. With this little ode, I can memorialize his particular place and time.
Using a one-minute clip of the televised source footage of the famous mud-bowl game, I made a series of sepia-toned ink drawings showing my grandfather as he breaks-away from a pack of players until he is tackled.
About The Artist
Raised in New Brunswick, Aubrey Reeves is an artist, curator and arts manager based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She holds a M.A. in Curatorial Studies from Bard College in New York and a B.A. in Visual Arts and Arts Management from the University of Toronto.
Aubrey has shown her work internationally at the Kasseler Documentary Film und Video Fest in Kassel, Germany and across Canada at the 2012 Images Festival (Toronto), Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (Toronto), Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography (Toronto), Khyber ICA (Halifax), Ed Video (Guelph), Modern Fuel (Kingston), Artcite Inc. (Windsor), among others. She has an up-coming show of Glide at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Aubrey’s work has been recognized with grants and awards from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, The Toronto Arts Council and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto.