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Canadian Cities meets the Bloomsbury Set

Richard Dennis’s farewell assignation?

Canadian Cities meets the Bloomsbury Set

Canadian Cities: Past Into Present was the enigmatic title of a conference organized by Professor Richard Dennis at UCL’s new Institute of the Americas at the end of March.

The conference brought together Canadian urban historians and geographers with UK-based scholars, including literary and film analysts. Among the speakers, Dr Claire Dwyer talked about her work on Vancouver’s suburban religious spaces. Inevitably, Richard himself explored the place of some historic Toronto and Montreal apartment houses in more contemporary times. These included one that played a prominent role in a 1978 feature film before more recently being encouraged (allegedly) to collapse by its owner, and another that is now owned by ‘le roi des peep-shows’!

The conference began with a session on urban environmental  history and ended with one on housing, and others focused on Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Fifty to sixty delegates attended at least part of the proceedings. They were squeezed into the Institute of the Americas conference room, which once upon a time would have been Lytton Strachey’s front parlour overlooking Gordon Square.

The conference was also a first event marking Richard’s 40th year on the UCL staff and his impending migration to the Emeritus office. It was rounded off with a version of his ‘Bloomsbury and King’s Cross’ urban walk on Sunday afternoon. Although mainly intended for the visitors from Canada, it also attracting various other hangers-on. Richard’s urbanwalks/fieldtrips are currently being converted to mobile phone apps – watch this space for further details!



Richard in field-class mode (photo: Bob Morris)

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