Portrait Sonore presents: A walking documentary on Toronto’s modern heritage

GIF courtesy of Portrait Sonore
GIF courtesy of Portrait Sonore

Portrait Sonore, in collaboration with architect Michael Mclelland and architectural historian Marie-Josée Therrien, presents the walking documentary TORONTO /DOWNTOWN MODERN – an immersive and dynamic walk in the heart of Toronto’s downtown that explores the history of its most iconic modern buildings.


Toronto Downtown Modern is an experience in sound, a 120-minute experiential walk through the heart of the financial district, a continuous immersion in soundscapes, information and music. Personal accounts from renowned architects and experts offer a fresh look at Toronto’s under-appreciated modern past as their testimonials inspire new visions for the city, and inspire us to think about Toronto’s future.

Throughout the walk, the narration and original musical score evoke the spirit of modernity, directly inspired by the forms and materials of the Modernist era. Interviews and music combine to create a new and lively portrait of the modern city.


This audio-guided walk starts at Union Station and ends at Toronto City Hall. We hear about the growth of Toronto as a metropolis and we learn about the significant changes carried out in the 1950s.

Discover the spirit that made Toronto a city of great promise, the conflicting ambitions and visions that brought about the development of Toronto in the 20th century. Learn more about Toronto’s modern heritage buildings through the testimonies of the ones who created them and worked on their conservation.


In 2017, Canada will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Toronto Downtown Modern is part of a larger project on major Canadian cities curated and directed by architect Sophie Mankowski with the collaboration of Antoine Bédard and Serge Rhéaume (all 3 founders of Portrait Sonore). Its goal is to contribute to the emergence of a pan-modern architectural awareness among the general public and give more visibility to bold, innovative and yet largely unrecognized works. The works selected in each city include significant post-World War II buildings, witnesses to the architectural effervescence of the 1950s through the 1970s and buildings that marked the development of Canadian downtowns.

Current walks include: Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City.
Upcoming: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Halifax.

Image courtesy of Portrait Sonore
Image courtesy of Portrait Sonore

Some 60 experts and architects, urbanists, designers and historians have participated so far. Through their stories, it is the tale of a modern country that is told, one where art, architecture and design take a prominent place.

This walking documentary was launched on May 28th 2016 in the context of DX 17th annual Doors Open. It is also promoted by Spacing → www.spacing.ca

For more information, please click here.