Fandom matters to me. Obviously, Star Trek is important to me, but fandom itself – meeting others who love this thing, reading the books, pursuing the collectibles, learning more almost every day – is as important.
It bothered me, then, when I went looking for Toronto Star Trek ’76 and found basically nothing. This was, as Rob Sawyer put it, a “gigantic part of Canadian SF history.”
I hope this effort addresses that oversight.
It was a great pleasure doing these interviews. I heard wonderful stories about friendships and fun and shenanigans (some of which I have left out of these pages) and about the joy and validation of being with other Star Trek fans. Linda MacDonald said it best: “If you like something like Star Trek, you go to a larger place and find out that actually it’s okay to like it and that other people like it and you can just talk about why it’s important. Then it becomes a shared experience.”
That was my early con experience too: the best part was meeting others who love the thing I love.
I am very thankful to those who shared their memories, their photos and their time with me. You are all interesting and engaging people, and I am glad I was able to tell your stories.
In 1976 I was 17. I had found Star Trek in 1970 and quickly became obsessed with it. Besides watching the episodes faithfully I built models and collected books. I was somewhat aware of Star Trek’s fandom, but they seemed mysterious and faraway. Toronto Star Trek ‘76 was my first exposure to fandom up close and it was exciting to see so many people interested in the same thing gathered together. I also got to see Mark Lenard, Walter Koenig, George Takei and Grace Lee Whitney on stage seated on a partial replica if the Enterprise bridge—so cool! I wandered the dealer’s room and bought some 8×10 photos and a poster of the Enterprise as souvenirs.
I wouldn’t attend another convention until the 1980s, but Toronto Star Trek ‘76 opened the door to the enthusiasm and passion of fellow fans.
This is a remarkably meaningful comment. Thank you so much for posting this.
“…it was exciting to see so many people interested in the same thing gathered together.” Exactly right. That was my first con experience as well. We loved this thing, and it was amazing to meet other people who did too.
I think it was a book called Star Trek Lives! that really clued me into broader fandom beyond the one or two other people I knew who were into Star Trek. But over time I don’t think their interest level was quite the same as mine. Nonetheless it showed me there were legions of fans out there somewhere beyond my own little world. Toronto Star Trek ‘76 brought me into contact with the people I had only read about. Later, although I attended a convention in the ‘80s it wouldn’t be until the mid ‘90s and onward that I would attend successive Toronto Trek conventions into the 2000s, where I was a panel participant as well as an attendee. It was on one of those panels where I met a huge TOS and TMP fan, SF writer Robert J. Sawyer. For the past twenty years my connection to fandom is mostly online through the message board website the TrekBBS.
Star Trek Lives! was written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak, and Joan Winston, and although the bookshelf across from my desk contains two copies I have not read it since my teenage years. Two of the authors — Jacqueline and Joan — were at Toronto Star Trek 76.
Robert J. Sawyer, you say? Never heard of him 😉
I should spend more time over at TrekBBS. I have not visited in quite some time.
Fantastic article! I was 12 in ‘76 and a huge Star Trek fan obsessed with building Enterprise model kits but sadly I missed this show as we were on a family vacation. I heard rumours of the bridge set at Mr Gameways Ark and went there a few times before it closed looking for it, but no luck.
Thanks for reading, Ross. It’s really too bad you missed the con, and didn’t catch the bridge at Gameways. As you probably read in the third part of the bridge articles, the set was used for corporate events and so was often not at the store.