The Providence Healthcare Archives are currently being established in room C237G, off the Memory Lane hallway at Providence. The Archives contains a collection of textual, photographic, audiovisual and visual records. In a quest to preserve by digitization footage of an event that took place in the 1960s known as the Caravan of Kindness, the following film from the new archive was digitized:
The Caravan of Kindness was an event that marked the beginning of Providence Healthcare as we know it. On January 28, 1962 a group of Toronto Cabbies donated their time to drive residents of the original House of Providence, then located on Power Street and slated for demolition, to their new home at Providence Villa and Hospital, currently known as Providence Healthcare.
This film, however, is not what we expected it to be.
Instead of a snowy January day in 1962, this 9.5 minute film appeared to have been shot on a summer day in the 1940s. In it, impeccably dressed people gather outside of what may be the original House of Providence while a roving four piece band marches by playing a slow song – a trumpet, an alto saxophone, a bass drum, a cymbal and an accordion – as people on a balcony dance to the music. Trees and plants in full bloom, people are escorted into cars as they pull away from the building. 4 minutes and 21 seconds into the footage, the cars and people no longer there, a large group of Sisters walk together up and down the sidewalk alongside of the building, some looking into the camera, smiling slightly. It is a delightful film, but determining its context proved challenging.
Thanks to the work and expertise of Linda Wicks, Archivist at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Archives (CSJTA), we now have a clearer picture of what event this film might depict. Although not certain, the film is most likely that of an outing organized by the Toronto Council of the Knights of Columbus. The printed Annals of the House of Providence 1857-1962, housed in the CSJT Archives, records one occasion from “September 19, 1940: The Knights of Columbus arranged for an outing for the old people at the House of Providence. On their return, each man received a pipe and tobacco. A chicken dinner was served at 5:00 p.m. The Archbishop was present to say Grace. Then he and twenty-five Knights had dinner in the reception room.”
If anyone has any further insight or information about this film, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Unity Health Toronto Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Archivist Linda Wicks who generously donated her time, Marc Knez and the hardworking team at Digital Treasures!
-Leah Hunter, Project Archivist