Title and statement of responsibility area
Foolscap Gay Oral History Project fonds
General material designation
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Title statements of responsibility
Level of description
CA ON00047 F0083
Edition statement of responsibility
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Statement of scale (cartographic)
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1980- 1997 (Creation)
Physical description area
52 audio-cassettes; 25 cm of stacked sheets of textual records; 252 GB of digital files (821 digital files).
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Archival description area
Name of creator
John Grube (1930-2008) was a writer, activist, and academic who taught English at the University of Windsor for a brief time and then creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design for over twenty years. According to friend James Dubro, Grube was perhaps best known within the Toronto queer scene as one of the members of gay art collective JAC — along with Alex Liros and Clarence Barnes — which documented gay events, demonstrations and early Pride marches in Toronto in the 1980s. In the wake of the 1981 bathhouse raids, Grube become outspoken as a gay activist, publishing (for example) the essay "No More Shit," which dealt with the troubled relationship between gay men and the police force. Grube wrote frequently on a range of issues from a left perspective, and published two books: the 1997 short fiction collection I'm Supposed to Be Crazy and Other Stories and the 2002 book of poetry God, Sex and Poetry. The Foolscap project, directed by John Grube, began in 1980. Grube and Lionel Collier, an undergraduate student at the time, both collected a great number of interviews with local gay men in Toronto. These interviews were intended to document the formation of gay social spaces in the city, in addition to the personal histories of the gay men interviewed. Most of these interviews were conducted within the 1980s, although an interview with Lionel Collier conducted in 1997 is included in the fonds.
Name of creator
Scope and content
John Grube's tapes consist of 45 seperate interviews of gay men about their lives in pre-Stonewall Toronto, in addition to 33 transcripts of Foolscap interviews. These transcripts were produced by Grube in the 1980s as well. In general terms, Grube's interviews were designed to explore memories of early gay community in Toronto, before the era of gay liberation. Topics covered in the interviews include the contours of pre-Stonewall gay culture; initiation into the gay community and/or coming out; early sexual experiences and relationships; cruising; relations with psychiatry and psychology; bar culture and gay social spaces; interaction with police; bar raids; interpersonal relationships; first contact with gay liberationists/activists; membership in gay organizations; party scene amongst older gay men; struggles with depression and substance abuse; S/M and leather culture; drag; and employment. Because not all interview subjects grew up in Toronto, the interviews cover other locations as well, mostly in Ontario.
Lionel Collier's interviews, collected mostly in the same time frame as Grube's, cover similar topics. Notably, Lionel's interest was moreso in the narration of personal histories rather than broader social trends. These interviews occassionaly touched on health and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Lionel also had a particular interest in gay liberation and responses to the Bathhouse Raids in Toronto. Many of Lionel's interviews discuss early sexual relationships. An interview with Lionel Collier from 1997 is also included in the fonds, as well as an interview conducted by the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory's Elspeth Brown and Zohar Freeman with Lionel Collier in 2018.
Immediate source of acquisition
There was no discernible order of the tapes when collected, in both the 2016-034 and 2017-059 accessions. The 2016-034 tapes were numbered as items, in chronological order based on date of interview, from first tape to last. The 2017-059 tapes were numbered as items, in alphabetical order based on last name of interview subject, from A to Z. All transcripts, from 2016-034 accession, were also numbered in alphabetical order based on last name of interview subject, from A to Z.
This fonds contains three series: 1: Project Documentation, 2: Oral Histories and 3: Transcripts.
In F0083-01 Project Documentation, one can find textual documentation from the project, including correspondence related to the Foolscap project and some of the release forms signed by Foolscap interview subjects. This series is divided into two files: F0083-01-001 Release Forms and F0083-01-002 Correspondence. All project documentation is available both digitally and in hard-copy.
In F0083-02 Oral Histories, one can find all of the archived audio from the Foolscap Gay Oral History Project. In this series, there is a file for every interview conducted as part of the Foolscap Gay Oral History Project (spanning across both the 2016-034 and 2017-059 accessions). These files are ordered alphabetically based on last name of interview subject, from A to Z. In cases where an interview subject was interviewed on more than one date, these interviews are labelled and ordered as First, Second, Third, etc, and kept in seperate files in successive order. Each file contains all digital recordings from said interview, as well as hard-copy audio-cassette tapes where available. Each tape (and the audio recordings from both sides of said tape) is considered a single item within the file. In cases where a single interview spans more than one tape, the tape item’s title is suffixed with (tape # of #). Digital recordings of audio are lettered A, B, C, D based on which side of which tape they are from, ordered alphabetically based on the order in which they were originally recorded.. All tapes have been digitized, with both sides (where a recording was present) available digitally in both original audio and noise-reduced audio. The titles of noise-reduced digital audio files are suffixed with "NR".
In F0083-03 Transcripts, one can find all transcripts of Foolscap interviews produced at the time of the project. The series is organized into files, arranged in alphabetical order based on the last name of interview subject. Each file contains both the hard-copy of the transcript and a digital scan of the transcript, available in both original and screen-readable format. The names of screen-readable scans are suffixed with “SR”. In addition to the transcripts donated as part of the 2016-034 accession, some transcripts of Foolscap interviews produced by Maureen Fitzgerald and her students in 2016 have been included. These are arranged as the final files in the series, under the 2019-003 accession.
In F0083-04 Supplementary Audio, one can find audio recordings donated by Lionel Collier which were found to pertain to the Foolscap Gay Oral History Project, but are not oral history interviews. This series includes a recording of a speech by John Grube (co-organizer of the Foolscap project), a recording of a speech by Barry Adams (a Foolscap interview subject), and a recording of a board meeting for the Tri-Aid House (which was mentioned in the interviews with Doug Chin).
All digital files created as part of archiving the Foolscap fonds are available on the NAS server, in “F0083 Foolscap Gay Oral History Project fonds”. The digital files in this folder are arranged to mirror the arrangement of the fonds. One can also locate digital files related to particular records in the Foolscap fonds by looking at the FilePath field at the File level for any file or item in the fonds. This contains a file pathway which will take you to a folder of digital files corresponding to the items contained in said file record. Every item in the Foolscap fonds has been digitized.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
All material accessible to researchers.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
Hard-copy cassette tapes from the 2016-034 accession were rehoused in acid-free boxes, removed from the wooden cases in which they were donated. The wooden cases (with plastic lids) have been discarded. Hardcopy transcripts and textual records also rehoused in acid-free boxes. All cassette tapes and textual materials have been digitized, and stored both on the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory harddrive and on the NAS server.