The Steampunk scene is back in Toronto
On this planet there exists a group of people who believe in time travel and a world in which 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery blends with futuristic technologies and frilly fashion.
They are Steampunks, they are badass, and they are quietly invading Toronto.
Despite the looks and mindset of Steampunks - steeped in the past while at the same time always vaguely futuristic - it's a relatively new way of life. Originating sometime in the '80s as a reaction to the ridiculous term cyberpunk, it was a term coined by sci-fi writer K.W. and quickly adopted by a loyal army.
Think Doctor Who, that movie 9, Hugo, A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and The Golden Compass . Hell, check out this collection of Disney Princesses as Steampunk queens and you'll get what I'm talking about.
It's a movement or even a fetish that's been happening all around us on TV and the big screen, in books and in floating pirate ships since most of us were kids.
Thankfully there are organizations like the Toronto Steampunk Society and Steampunk Junction to remind us what is happening in this fantastical subculture group. They often do city tours, film screenings, tea events, photoshoots and dinners.
Paul Neale, one of the organizers at the TO Steampunk Society explains the culture as follows. "It's as if the Victorian age never ended. Like the world never developed diesel fuel or gas items. If someone had never heard of it, you would ask if they had read Jules Vern, or a bad example is [Will Smith's amazing future-Western flop] Wild Wild West."
Trevor Parkins started Steampunk Junction in January of 2015. He gives history walks and talks and has built an impressive 14 Lego streetcars to bring a lost appreciation for how far the city has come in its transportation.
"I'm trying to bring an interest back into history," he says. "Bringing old fashion back into fashion."
Parkins' schtick is that he's a time traveller from the 18th Century who's come back to bring history to the modern world. "Steampunk is essentially Victorian era science fiction," he says. "Frankenstein is totally steampunk for example. It's a literary genre and also a counter culture."
If there was a punk culture off-shoot, Steampunk would be it, but a bit classier.
Upcoming Steampunk events in Toronto
High Park History Walks, August 19-20
Steampunk Junction hosts a High Park History walk on Friday, August 19 and Saturday, August 20. It's a trek through history from a the mouth and imagination of an 18th Century Steampunker. The park's history will never be as lively as this.
Suburban Steampunk Festival, August 20
Held at the Zion Schoolhouse in North York, this all-day time-travelling event features an outdoors arcade of Steampunk vendors, crafts and activations. It's a festival for people with imagination, who for a few hours want to lose themselves in time and space.
A Gentleman and a Scholar book launch, August 27
A launch party at Tequila Bookworm. This book is part part of Steampunk author Rebecca Diem's Adventures of Captain Duke series.
FanExpo 2016, September 1-4
Many of the Steampunk Society's members will be at FanExpo 2016. Look for Victorian-style get ups mixed with metal and oddball technologies. Like a robot Mary Poppins. They program all Steampunk content at the conference and will have a booth in the north building.
Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition, September 23-25
Happening around Niagara on the Lake, this weekend long time trip will be heaven for cosplay fans and will feature performances, workshops and panels. This is modern day earth headquarters for Steampunks of Ontario.
Did I miss a Steampunk event or group that you're a fan of? Are you from the past/future and want to make contact? Tell us about it in the comments.
Photo by Greg David in the blogTO Flickr pool.
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