BSM Volunteer Spotlight: Ray Wolanin

We wanted to highlight our volunteers in a new and exciting way! BSM Volunteer Spotlight showcases the incredible projects our volunteers have on the go. For our first spotlight, we are speaking with Ray Wolanin, who is one of our incredible front desk volunteers.

We’d love our audience to learn more about you, tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a pharmacist by profession and have since retired. I grew up in Beausejour, Manitoba, a small farming community 40 miles north east of Winnipeg. An active lifestyle to me is the key to quality living. Volunteer work has always been an important part of my life with past stints at the Aids Committee of Toronto and Casey House Hospice; the museum is my most current. Exercising also plays an important role in my day; I am a active YMCA member, work out 5 days a week, enjoy long distance cycling, classical music/opera, reading, playing bridge and I have run marathons in the past.

How long have you been a volunteer at the BSM? What do you enjoy most about it?

I’ve been volunteering at the front desk for well over 10 years. I most thoroughly enjoy interacting with the general public, especially tourists visiting our city. Having travelled extensively in the past, I know how much appreciated a welcome to a new city or country can be. Front desk volunteers provide that opportunity.

Tell us how you started your project about abandoned shoes - what inspired you to take photos of the first pair you came across?

While out on a walk one day in the city, I came across a pair of shoes next to a coffee cup on the sidewalk by the downtown Grosvenor YMCA.  I just thought, “how odd, who and why would someone, anyone, abandon a perfectly wearable pair of shoes?” It wasn’t just one torn old shoe that someone cast aside, it was a good pair. I decided to take a photo. Subsequently, I came across other pairs throughout the city at a variety of locations.

What is the most interesting shoe(s) you’ve come across?

My favourites are a pair of men’s brown casuals left by the turn-style at the College subway station and the three pairs of heels left on the sidewalk near Jarvis Collegiate (leftovers from a prom dance perhaps).

I noticed you take photos of a complete pair, is there any particular reason for that?

It’s important to note that I did not go about searching for others.  Other pairs were discovered when I least expected it. Photos were taken, compiled with dates and locations found. I mentioned this - what then became fun project - to several friends who on a few occasions found pairs in their area and forwarded their photos on to me to add to my collection. So the question in my mind arose; “why were they abandoned?" Of course, the answer to that question can be left up to anyone’s imagination. Hence the title of the slideshow/video, “Why are they there.....?” I think this shoe-related video might provide a bit of entertainment for online viewers - letting them suppose, in their own minds, the reason for abandonment, as well as displaying the many different types/styles of shoes left behind (e.g., heels, snow boots, athletic wear).

Do you have any other shoe-related projects coming up?

No other projects coming up at the moment!

You can watch Ray's abandoned shoe project below:

Thank you so much Ray for taking the time to answer our questions!

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