Meet the Guides
Miriam Borden is a PhD student in Yiddish Studies at the University of Toronto, where she also teaches Yiddish language classes. She tries to bring a historical perspective to everything she does: in what surprising new ways does the past encourage us to think, and what answers might we be able to find when we look through historical eyes? That’s how Miriam approached the Stories of Spadina tours over the last four years. Where possible, she integrates sources from Toronto’s Yiddish newspaper, Der Yidisher Zhurnal, and the work of Toronto’s Yiddish poets—to bring in voices that help us approximate the experience and perspectives of Jewish Torontonians fifty, sixty, or a hundred years ago, in their own words. Exploring Kensington Market or Spadina in search of the past is always a process that interweaves history and memory and finding the places where those diverge—that’s her favourite thing about the tours. Miriam’s hope is that visitors come away with an appreciation for the way fact, memory, and legend all work together to create what we call “history,” and the way the past is never simple or straightforward.
Brad Bass is a researcher, educator and policy analyst as well as Hebrew teacher. He is well-known in several areas including green infrastructure, computer simulation, water quality and climate change. Brad first encountered the Stories of Spadina when he began teaching Hebrew, over 20 years ago. After walking on many tours with his class, he became enthusiastic about leading the tours, and started to do so in 2009. Brad enjoys and relishes any opportunity to visit Kensington Market, but he has really enjoyed the diversity of people he has met on the tours, the occasional encounter with an old friend and connecting with participants who lived in the area or who have relatives who grew up in the area. When you finish this tour, you will have an appreciation of the Jewish community’s influence on the Market, even to this day. When the tour is over, you will often find Brad lingering in the Market, sometimes discussing lunch options with participants and then enjoying the diversity of foods and people that one can only find in Kensington Market.
Sharoni Sibony is an experienced and enthusiastic educator across multiple disciplines including literature, local history, writing, pottery, and Jewish studies. She worked and volunteered for nearly a decade in Jewish educational programming and event management at the Jewish Community Centres of Toronto, Ashkenaz Festival, and Limmud Toronto, and has been a tour guide with the Ontario Jewish Archives for eight years. She loves meeting new people and helping them connect their own experiences of Toronto to Jewish history in Kensington Market. While we often think of our origin stories in the city as stemming from a homogeneous Ashkenazi community, she loves evoking the noisy diversity and disputes of the market’s different Jewish immigrants. The Market has long been a great in-between space for immigrant groups finding their feet in a new country, a safe haven to explore a new life in the city. And the Jews of Toronto, like so many other immigrant groups here, have made an indelible impact on the city’s growth and vibrant multicultural landscape.
Cyrel Troster has been leading tours of Spadina and Kensington Market for over 40 years. She is a retired art teacher who has written educational curriculum documents for the province of Ontario. Cyrel has given presentations on Toronto Jewish History and Visual Art for many organizations. She is a past chair of the Ontario Jewish Archives. One of the joys of leading tours of Kensington Market has been hearing the recollections of the participants. These stories have enriched the history of the Toronto Jewish community. This new tour will help new generations learn about the history of their grandparents and great grandparents in the city of Toronto.
Ralph Wintrob is a former journalist, teacher, teacher-librarian, and longtime moderator at The Life Institute, Ryerson University’s senior studies program. He has been leading Stories of Spadina tours for more than a decade, starting with a tour of the institutional development of the Toronto Jewish Community, east of Spadina. It’s a special pleasure to try to bring to life the personal and organized history of our vibrant community.