The Lost Stories Project seeks out little known stories about the Canadian past, transforms them into inexpensive works of public art installed on appropriate sites, and documents the process by way of a series of short films. Along the way, forgotten moments from Canadian history are brought to light, and viewers have an opportunity to see the choices that have to be made when a story is turned into a work of art.
The project is directed by Ronald Rudin, a professor of history and co-director of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University. He has long had an interest in how stories about the past are told in public space, examining both which stories get told and how they are presented. When we see such markers of the past as monuments, memorials and murals, they appear to be natural, as if they couldn't have taken on any other shape. By documenting the process from start to finish, the Lost Stories Project is designed to show that these markers are the product of a number of choices, from the stories that are selected for display to the designs that are ultimately chosen. In most cases, this process takes place out of public view, but Lost Stories seeks to make the pertinent choices transparent and to make ordinary Canadians active participants.
The Lost Stories website provides access to the project's pilot episode, which tells the story of Thomas Widd, a deaf man who founded the Mackay School for the Deaf in the late nineteenth century. The story was brought to us -- following a call to the public -- by Janet McConnell, a former teacher at the school, whose parents met there. The 22-minute documentary shows the artist Lalie Douglas turning this story into a piece of public art. The film was produced by Ronald Rudin, and directed by Bernar Hébert.