At the end of 1978, we moved to Toronto. It was coming home to a city where I had not lived since university or early teaching days and was arriving with a husband and four sons – but it still felt like home. In spite of five changes of household address, I have lived here ever since.
As Canada’s largest city, Toronto was much more cosmopolitan and unlike Ottawa, where the only subject of dinner party conversation was politics. I was now out of a job. By now, the baby boomers had passed through secondary school and teachers were being laid off; I would have been too if I had stayed in Ottawa, because seniority was based on longevity with a particular school board.
It was strange to have so little to do. My sons settled well into their new schools and my husband was occupied with his new job. It was time to be a full time volunteer. I sat at the information desk of the Royal Ontario Museum (long before its famous Crystal) and directed visitors to exhibits and washrooms. Two boards invited me to be members – a volunteer centre and a centre for women in transition. In these I learned something about fundraising and communication. It was grist for the mill of finding a new career because clearly there were not going to be teaching jobs again. By the end of five years, like many of my counterparts, I suddenly found myself in arts administration – a field just coming into being as a subset of business administration in a young country eager for new arts facilities and organizations. The favourite question of colleages was “What did you used to teach?”. As educators, we didn’t have a clue what arts administration was. What we did know was how to learn and get things done. I was also soon newly single with children to support and aging parents with declining health.