The photograph in question was originally used as a sort of anti-advertisement for Rochdale College, a chartered Canadian free school that closed in 1975. In it’s day, Rochdale occupied a brand spanking new eighteen story building near downtown Toronto, bought and paid-for with government funds. Outside of Toronto, this building and the school it housed was one of hippiedom’s best kept secrets. If the 60s counter culture had a Vatican, it was Rochdale.
Now, we’re not going to get into the cool factor that was Rochdale–that’s another article entirely, if not a book. Let’s just say that it was hated by the local authorities because it was a lot like Alice’s Restaurant (where you could “get anything you want”) except on a much grander scale. But it was also legitimately a center of higher education–a free school that spawned some organizations that became mainstays of Canadian culture. Examples of this would include Theatre Passe Muraille, which began in Rochdale and continues to this day as a driving force in Canadian theater; Coach House Press, for a long time the country’s most prestigious artisan printing establishment; and Reg Hartt’s Cineforum.