Making history: Meet Amy Korczynski, Archivist

TD is proud to employ more than 85,000 individuals across North America and around the world, many of them in unique roles that aren't often associated with financial institutions.

In the latest iteration of our 'Meet TD' series, we introduce you to some of the people working at TD in creative roles that add new depths and dimensions to our culture.   

Amy Korczynski just figured you had to be good with numbers to work at a bank.

So when she saw a job posting that combined her love of historical research and storytelling, she was surprised to see the position was being offered by a bank. Growing up, Korczynski would see her father dressed in a suit and tie with a newspaper in hand, heading off to his own job at TD to work in data processing. She never expected she'd wind up working for the same institution, only in a much different role.

Now TD's in-house Archivist, Korczynski is responsible for sourcing, collecting and managing the bank's extensive archives. It's a collection that includes everything from the expected executive speeches, architectural drawings, and old bank ledgers dating back to the 1870s, to more unique and unexpected items, including furniture, marketing materials, art, currency and rare artifacts, such as TD branded hot sauces and lobster bibs.  

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In all, Korczynski manages a collection that now runs into the tens of thousands of items.

"Rather than just gathering these pieces and records and have them collect dust and be forgotten, we work to share the stories behind them," Korczynski said.

Korczynski became fascinated with history as a teenager during long afternoons spent visiting Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and she eventually earned a PhD in Art History. Little did she know that her interests in the Renaissance and Baroque furniture she saw there would one day dovetail with a career at a bank. 

As part of her role, Korczynski manages a collection of more than 30,000 historical and contemporary photographs documenting TD's (and Canada's) history. One of her favourite images was taken on the frigid morning of January 26, 1918, at the Dominion Bank branch in Peterborough, Ontario. The branch had just been destroyed by fire, and the water used to fight the flames froze, creating eerie ice formations inside the branch and on its façade. 

The Dominion Bank branch at George Street North and Simcoe in Peterborough, Ontario show the premises after it had been devastated by fire on January 26, 1918. 
The Dominion Bank in Peterborough, Ontario show the premises after it had been devastated by fire on January 26, 1918. 

"I just love this image because you have this clear and powerful picture of what unfolded that day," Korczynski said. "It's important for us to connect with employees and customers on a more human level by telling our shared stories."

To help highlight TD's 163-year history in Canada, Korczynski often hosts tours and creates temporary displays for important occasions, including Remembrance Day, or milestone bank anniversaries.

The collection also includes items of historical significance marking cultural changes within the organization. For example, a simple memo from 1994 serves as a reminder that TD was the first Canadian bank to provide same-sex spousal benefits for employees.

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Each of the pieces in the TD collection represent placemarks in time and tell broader stories, she said, and collecting them helps the organization to understand and remember just how much we have evolved as a society and nation.

"Without documentation, our human memory tends to forget," she said. "We risk overlooking landmark moments in our social and economic history."

Another poignant piece of the collection for Korczynski are images from World War I that tell stories about how Canadian women found new employment opportunities at financial institutions as many men left their jobs at the bank to serve in the Armed Forces. These photos and records remember a time when women stepped into positions as tellers, in many cases working with customers face-to-face for the first time.

But not every item in the archives reflects broader and significant societal trends. Some fun pieces of memorabilia occasionally cross Korczynski's desk, like a TD lobster bib and a 'Mega Mortgage Combo' bottle of hot sauce.

'Your Bank. Your Way.' A TD lobster bib and a 'Mega Mortgage Combo' hot sauce can be found in TD's Archives.
    'Your Bank. Your Way.' A TD lobster bib and a 'Mega Mortgage Combo' hot sauce can be found in TD's Archives.

"Sometimes when an employee is retiring things like this are found in their desk during a move, or in a storage room that hasn’t been used in years," Korczynski said. "And I always feel this joy and am surprised when those treasures are discovered."

Korczynski says this longtime obsession with history is forever embedded in her personality.

"It's who I am. Who knew I would end up using my love for history at a bank in such a creative way?"