The Ward Cabaret
reimagines the vibrant sound of Toronto's first multi-cultural neighbourhood. JUNO Award-winning musician and composer David Buchbinder is joined by a collaborative team of musicians, singers, and actors for a musical event based on the songs and sounds of Toronto's first cross-cultural community.
History is a verb. The passage of time is a constant. But what we seek to preserve from our past and what we choose to cast away has always been a selective process often informed by unexamined motives and biases.
The Ward was a Lower East Side-like enclave shared for over a century by Irish, African-Canadians, Italians, Eastern European Jews and Chinese. A dense corner of the city that officials saw as a crime-ridden slum in need of reform, The Ward was home to waves of immigrants who settled there, started businesses and religious institutions, learned English, hawked newspapers, ran speakeasies, restaurants and laundries, started theatres, and generally tried to fit in. When these newcomers came to Toronto, they left much behind, but brought with them great cultural treasures: stories, songs, music and traditions.
Inspired by The Ward
(Coach House Books), Buchbinder first gathered a group of stellar Toronto artists to create The Ward Cabaret
in 2016. After selling out at Soulpepper and Lula Lounge, the book's editors, along with Buchbinder, Marjorie Chan, Andrew Craig, and Michael Occhipinti – three musicians and a playwright representing four of the five cultures of The Ward – are reimagining the songs, music and stories of The Ward in order to explore the cultural roots of what has become the most diverse city on the planet.