The Royal Ontario Museum of Archeology
was founded around the beginning of the twentieth century by Charles "Trick" Currelly as a showcase
for archeological treasures
, many of them he himself had collected.
It is located at the corner of Bloor St. and Avenue Rd. at the northern boundary of the St George Campus of the University of Toronto, separated from the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto by Philosopher’s Walk. It is a short walk down Harbord St from the residences at New College.
When I was young, I used to go to the ROM, as we used to call it, a lot. My parents let me travel on my own by the time I was 12. Saturday afternoons I would take the bus, or later the University Ave Subway. I would go with a friend, or
I loved to look at the dinosaurs; the ROM has one of the world’s most impressive collections. The head of the tyrannosaurus rex was so large, and had so many
teeth, I would have disappeared into it quite easily. Fossil dinosaurs in rock hung like paintings on walls; a brontosaurus was so huge it filled up an entire gallery, supported by metal rods, with the rock still in places.
I would get lost in the gallery devoted to suits of armor, of England, Europe, and of Asia. Chainmail, breastplates, helmets, gloves, boot-like pieces, pieces to cover thighs, armor for riding horses so heavy only enormous horses could bear the weight--and the knights had to be hoisted up. There were lances, maces, swords, spears, crossbows, longbows, arrows--case upon case of these antique killing
The exhibit on geology was another favourite. I remember the ‘black’ lights that made the printing on the walls--and my shirt--glow. There was a great pillar of basalt produced by some volcano. There were the meteorites with smooth surfaces, whose edges had been melted away by their fiery entry into the earth’s atmosphere.
The ROM’s architecture was like many of the buildings on the St George Campus, and the surrounding Ontario government buildings, like The Pink Palace--all with
beautiful stone walls.
When I was a student at the University of Toronto, I spent many nights marvelling at the luminescent quality of the rock--at the time it seemed to me as if there was a candle inside every brick.
I wrote a poem about the Museum, and a few other things.
By the eighties, an addition had been built to the ROM. It was long overdue, since the bulk of the collection could never be removed from storage. But the thing that was
built! To my eye, it is a ghasly steel and glass monstrosity, completely out of keeping with the main building, and the surrounding structures. They even destroyed the Chinese Garden, with its tomb, and marvelous stone lions, to make way for it.
Nevertheless, if you are even in Toronto, it is well worth the visit--there is something to appeal to every taste and interest.