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Genealogy and Local History moves Downtown

June 2, 2016 | TRL Humanities and Social Sciences | Comments (0)

Genealolgy wordle -4
The genealogy and local history collection housed in the Canadiana Department at the North York Central Library was recently transferred downtown to the Toronto Reference Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Department (HSS).
This included a variety of materials in different formats:

  • genealogical periodicals  Pcr-2191
  • church and parish histories
  • historical atlases
  • city directories
  • yearbooks
  • indexes to births, marriages and deaths
  • passenger lists and census on microfilm
  • local histories
  • general works on conducting genealogy research
  • how-to guides for those starting to explore their family history

To search for these items you can use the Toronto Public Library catalogue or the Local History & Genealogy webpage.

The HSS department is also continuing the library’s partnerships with three Genealogical Societies:  the Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants (CSMD), the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto (JGS) and the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS).   Materials in these collections include:

 

  • self-published family histories
  • cemetery transcriptions
  • family charts
  • genealogical newsletters and periodicals. 

Ohq-pictures-s-r-616These collections are now located in the closed stacks of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department (2nd floor) where they will complement and augment the existing local history and genealogy collections.

Search their unique catalogues for items of interest at the following links: OGS Catalogue, JGS Catalogue, CSMD Catalogue.

Materials are for use in library only and can be requested at the Humanities Social Sciences Reference desk on the 2nd floor of the Toronto Reference Library, in person, by phone (416-393-7175) or by email trlhss@torontopubliclibrary.ca .

Family history buffs will have a much larger collection to aid them in their research, as well as access to  online resources such as Ancestry Library Edition (in library access only) and the Digital Archive, in one location.

Celebrating the Princes' Gates at the CNE: August 30: Snapshots in History

August 30, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Prince of Wales opens the Princes' Gates CNE  Toronto Archives Fonds 1244 Items 1018A

(Credit: Prince of Wales and group at the CNE, 1927 – Toronto Archives –

William James family fonds - Fonds 1244 – Item 1018A)

 

C.N.E. Prince's Gate Prince of Wales cutting ribbon August 30, 1927 Toronto Archives Globe and Mail fonds Fonds 1266, Item 11384

(Credit: C.N.E., Prince's Gate, Prince of Wales cutting ribbon, August 30, 1927

– Toronto Archives – Globe and Mail fonds - Fonds 1266, Item 11384)

 

C.N.E., Prince's Gate Prince George and Sam Harris talking August 30, 1927 Toronto Archives Globe and Mail fonds Fonds 1266, Item 11385

(Credit: C.N.E., Prince's Gate, Prince George and Sam Harris talking, August 30, 1927

– Toronto Archives – Globe and Mail fonds - Fonds 1266, Item 11385)

 

On August 30 and beyond, take a moment to celebrate the Princes’ Gates (not the Princess Gates to which they have been sometimes erroneously referred) at Exhibition Place on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds. Originally constructed to celebrate Canada’s 60th anniversary of Confederation in 1927, the gates were originally supposed to be named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates”. 

In late 1926, the CNE hired architect Alfred H. Chapman to design a new eastern side entrance to the fair grounds. The gates featured a statue of the Winged Victory (similar to the Louvre’s Winged Victory of Samothrace) on top of a central Roman arch of a 91-metre long structure, including nine thin ionic columns on each side representing the then-nine Canadian provinces (prior to Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation in 1949). The structure was designed in a Beaux-Art style. Sculptor Charles D. McKenchie had the responsibility of sculpting all the figures on the Princes’ Gates. Two pairs of identical figures are on each side of the Winged Victory – one pair held cornucopias representing a fruitful harvest, while the other pair held beehives symbolizing prosperity and hard work.  Additionally, the sculptures on the pylons also had symbolic significance – the female figure clasping onto a grain sheaf represented agriculture, while the male figure (with his left hand resting on a wheel and a set of drawings covering his knees) represented industry.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1977, the Princes’ Gates were rededicated. In 1987, a badly damaged and weathered Winged Victory was replaced by a replica constructed of an advanced polymer resin. In 1994, poured concrete was used for restorative purposes to recast the other four statues on the main arch of the Princes’ Gates.

 

Princes' Gates model 1926

Princes’ Gates, Model (Credit: Pringle and Booth, 1926

– Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection)

 

Why was the Princes’ Gates name adopted? The directors of the Canadian National Exhibition learned that Edward, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom), and his brother, Prince George (a future Duke of Kent) were going to be visiting Toronto in 1927. Hence, the name was changed and both Princes were present at the official opening of the Princes’ Gates on Tuesday, August 30, 1927. The Prince of Wales used gold scissors to cut the purple ribbon to declare the Princes’ Gates officially open.

 

Princes' Gates looking west James Victor Salmon 1952

Princes’ Gates, looking west, 1952 (Credit: James Victor Salmon

– Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection)

 

Consider the following titles for borrowing or examination from Toronto Public Library collections:

Books:

 

Once Upon a Century 100 Year History of the Ex

 

Once Upon a Century 100 Year History of the Ex

(Additional copies)

 

Once Upon a Century 100 Year History of the Ex

(Additional copies)

 

 

The Ex a picture history of the Canadian National Exhibition

 

 

For additional images of the Princes’ Gates, please visit the CNE website. For further background information, please visit articles from CNEHeritage.com, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Tayloronhistory.com , and Torontoplaques.com .

Remembering Jack Layton on August 22: Snapshots in History

August 23, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Jack_Layton_-_Grave

Memorial at Toronto Necropolis

Credit: Freaktography Urban Exploration and Photography, September 10, 2012

 

On August 22 and beyond, take a moment to remember the late Hon. John Gilbert “Jack” Layton (Born: July 18, 1950; Died: August 22, 2011), who was Leader of the Official Opposition in Canada’s 41st Parliament, 1st Session; Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada from January 2003 to August 2011; and Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth from June 2004 to August 2011 until his death from cancer. Jack Layton was also a former Toronto city councillor and one-time Vice-President (2000) and then President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) (2001). He was a well-known advocate for AIDS research, environmental, housing and homelessness issues, and co-chair and founder of the White Ribbon Campaign on Violence against Women.

Since his election to City Council in 1982, Jack Layton served many years in a wide range of roles including Acting Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Toronto, Chair of the Toronto Board of Health, Chair of the Economic Development and Planning Committee of Metro and Member of the City Executive Committee, Chair of Metropolitan Toronto's Planning and Transportation Committee, the Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons, as well as the 3Rs Task Force. Jack Layton ran for Mayor of Toronto in 1991 but lost to June Rowlands.

Prior to being elected to the House of Commons in 2004, Jack Layton had lost elections to Parliament in the 1993 and 1997 federal elections in the Rosedale and Toronto-Danforth constituencies respectively.

On August 22, 2013, the Ontario Federation of Labour honoured Jack Layton’s memory with the gift of a bronze statue depicting Layton on a tandem bicycle that was unveiled at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (formerly the Toronto Island Ferry Docks) where people can travel to and from the Toronto Islands.

Jack Layton was only the second federal Leader of the Opposition to die in office. The first was none other than the Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) who had previously served as Canada’s first francophone Prime Minister. Only two Canadian Prime Ministers died in office: the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) and the Right Honourable Sir John S. D. Thompson (1844-1894).

Here is a list of items by/about Jack Layton, available for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Books:

Homelessness how to end the national crisis   Homelessness The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis

 

Speaking out louder ideas that work for Canadians


   Speaking out ideas that work for Canadians

(Also available in Talking Book format restricted to print disabled patrons).

 

Building the orange wave  the inside story behind the historic rise of Jack Layton and the NDP

(Also available in Talking Book format restricted to print disabled patrons).

 

Love, hope, optimism an informal portrait of Jack Layton by those who knew him

 

Jack Layton art in action

 

eBooks:

 

Hope is better than fear paying Jack Layton forward  

 

Speaking out louder ideas that work for Canadians

 

DVDs:

 

Jack

Feature Film

Remembering the T. Eaton Company on August 20: Snapshots in History

August 20, 2016 | John P. | Comments (2)

753px-Timothy_Eaton_and_son

Timothy Eaton and his son John Craig Eaton, Eaton's department store, Toronto, Canada, 1899.

Credit: Archives of Ontario, Item Reference Code F 229-308-0-2209

 

800px-Eaton's_store_façade,_Toronto,_1918

Eaton's store façade, 190 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada, 1918.

Credit: Archives of Ontario, Item Reference Code F 229-308-0-1700

 

On August 20 and beyond, take a moment to remember the passing of a Canadian business institution, the T. Eaton Company, which filed for bankruptcy protection on the evening of August 20, 1999, 130 years after it had been founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton (1834-1907). Eaton introduced the then-revolutionary practice of cash sales at one fixed price rather than the traditional credit, bargain and barter method. Many Canadians and Torontonians grew up with the famed Eaton’s catalogue. Introduced in 1884 with a mail-order process to facilitate access by rural and farming communities as well to a wide range of products, the Eaton’s catalogue remained a mainstay of the T. Eaton Company until it was discontinued in 1976.

Upon Timothy Eaton’s death in 1907, Eaton’s third son, John Craig Eaton (1876-1922) became president of the company. Knighted in 1915 for philanthropy, it was under Sir J.C. Eaton’s stewardship that Eaton’s employees on active war service received full pay, as well as establishing Saturday holidays and 5:00 p.m. evening closures at Eaton’s stores, mail-order offices, and factories in 1919. Additionally, the Eaton Boys and Girls clubs offered recreational and educational facilities for Eaton’s employees and their families. Following J.C. Eaton’s death, his cousin Robert Young Eaton assumed the company presidency, followed by J.C. Eaton’s son, John David Eaton, in 1942. Under the presidency of J.D. Eaton, the T. Eaton Company expanded into northern and western Canada as well as introducing a contributory medical insurance plan and a retirement plan for employees. J.D. Eaton personally contributed $50 million to the retirement plan in 1948. During the Second World War, Eaton’s was the first Canadian company to pay employees who joined the armed forces.  Son John Craig Eaton ll became Chairman of the Board of the T. Eaton Company in 1969. Another son, Fredrik Stefan Eaton, served as Chairman, President and CEO of the company from 1977 to 1988.  George Ross Eaton, the youngest son of J.D. Eaton, was the last member of the Eaton family to assume the presidency of the T. Eaton Company until June 1997.

The T. Eaton Company had some ups and downs. It established the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade in Toronto in 1905 and continued its sponsorship until August 1982, when it pulled out citing increasing costs. Other sponsors came in to sustain the annual parade which continues to this day as the Toronto Santa Claus Parade. The company had resisted attempts of some employees to unionize during the days of Timothy Eaton, during the early 1950s, and even during the mid-1980s when some stores were unionized but an unsuccessful strike resulted in a decertification vote. The company had tried to broaden its position in the Canadian retail universe in the 1970s by establishing a discount chain called Horizon which was closed in 1978. The company also had to deal with stiff competition from the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Sears Canada, Zellers, and Walmart Canada and the trend towards big-box retailing stores. Eaton’s attempts to compete included hiring HBC’s chief executive officer George Kosich in 1997 as president to develop a higher-end retailing strategy similar to that used at HBC. This initiative resulted in legal wrangling between Eaton’s and HBC. Kosich resigned in 1998 and was replaced by then-chairman Brent Ballantyne. Ballantyne took the company public and shares were sold for the first time in the company’s history with the Eaton family retaining a 51% controlling interest.

Following the declaration of bankruptcy in 1999, Sears Canada purchased Eaton’s corporate assets (name, trademarks, brands etc.) for $50 million and attempted to launch Eaton as a brand name under its auspices. However, the attempted juxtaposition of the then-Sears Canada with its lower prices and merchandise quality with that of the higher-end Eaton’s ultimately ended with the retirement of the Eaton’s name in 2002.

A landmark symbolic of Eaton’s, the Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall which opened in 1977, continues to be one of the City of Toronto’s top tourist attractions.

Consider the following titles for borrowing and review from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

Books:

 

The Eatons The rise and fall of Canada's royal family   Timothy Eaton and the rise of his department store  

 

Eaton's the trans-Canada store   Eatonians the story of the family behind the family  

 

eBooks:  

 

Eaton's the trans-Canada store

 

Eaton's Fall and Winter Catalogue 1920-21

Fall and Winter Catalogue 1920-21

 

Eaton's Spring and Summer Catalogue 1917

Spring & Summer Catalogue No. 122 1917

 

Eaton's Spring and Summer Catalogue 1907

Eaton's Spring and Summer Catalogue 1907

 

Eaton's Fall and Winter Catalogue 1899-1900

Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 43 1899-1900

 

Spring and Summer Catalogue No. 27 1894

Spring and Summer Catalogue No. 27, 1894

 

Images:

 

Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts 1923 Lifting a Seven Ton Motor

Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts., 1923.

Lifting a Seven-Ton Motor - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

 

Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts

Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts., 1910? 

- Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

 

Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior Cutting Men's Clothing 1909

Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior., 1909?

Cutting Men’s Clothing - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

 

Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior 1909 Designing and Cutting Room

Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior, 1909?

Designing and Cutting Room - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

 

Eaton, T., Co., warehouse, Louisa St. 1910

Eaton, T., Co., warehouse, Louisa St.?, 1910? - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

 

7 yr. old bay mare, T. Eaton Co., Toronto November 24 1910

7 yr. old bay mare, T. Eaton Co., Toronto, November 24, 1910. 

- Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

(Credit: Reginald Symonds Timmis)

 

Highway 427, looking n. from n. of Bloor St. W., during construction, showing T. Eaton Co. farm at left 1953

Highway 427, looking n. from n. of Bloor St. W., during construction, showing T. Eaton Co. farm at left., 1953 - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

(Credit: James Victor Salmon)

Remembering Toronto’s First Electric Streetcar: August 15: Snapshots in History

August 16, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Toronto Railway Company's Map Showing Street Railway Lines 1892

Toronto Railway Company’s Map Showing Street Railway Lines, 1892. Lithograph.

 

On August 15 and beyond, take a moment to look back into Toronto’s transit history by remembering when Toronto’s first electric streetcar ran on August 15, 1892 (with the last horse streetcar finishing service on August 31, 1894). The Toronto Street Railway (TSR) had received a 30-year franchise from the City of Toronto to deliver horse-drawn street railway service from September 11, 1861 to March 26, 1891. Briefly, the City of Toronto operated the service for an eight-month period after which the Toronto Railway Company (TRC), formed through a partnership of Sir William Mackenzie and James Leveson Ross, embarked on its 30-year franchise which included a move to electrification.

 

532px-King_Street_looking_east_from_Yonge_1900_Toronto

King Street looking east from Yonge Street. Toronto, Canada. 1900

 

Expansion of the City of Toronto during the 1908-1912 period through the annexation of Dovercourt, Earlscourt, East Toronto and Midway (between Toronto and East Toronto) led to a desired expansion of street railway service. Given the reticence of the privately-owned TRC to expand its service, the City of Toronto established the publicly-owned Toronto Civic Railways (TCR) to offer street railway service in those other areas. With the expiry of the TRC franchise in 1921, the City of Toronto combined the TRC services with those of the TCR to establish the publicly-owned Toronto Transportation Commission (1921-1954), the forerunner of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) (1954- ).

 

800px-HCRY-Peter-Witt-TTC-2984

1921 Peter Witt streetcar used by the Toronto Transportation Commission – now on display at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum – Photo Credit: David Arthur, 2007

 

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

Not a one-horse town 125 years of Toronto and its streetcars

 

The Witts an affectionate look at Toronto's original red rockets

 

Mind the doors please the story of Toronto and its streetcars

 

Toronto trolleys in color

 

 

Remembering Union Station’s Twentieth Century Opening: August 6: Snapshots in History

August 6, 2016 | John P. | Comments (2)

On August 6 and beyond, take a moment to remember the twentieth century official opening of Toronto’s Union Station on August 6, 1927 by His Royal Highness, Edward, Prince of Wales (who was to become the ill-fated King Edward VIII in a few short years), with rail traffic beginning to arrive and depart on August 11, 1927. Also accompanying the Prince of Wales was his younger brother, Prince George (who became Duke of Kent in 1934). (View more images from the 1927 Royal Tour, courtesy of the Department of Canadian Heritage.)

Edward Prince of Wales and Prince George at Toronto City Hall August 6 1927
 

Edward, Prince of Wales and Prince George at Toronto City Hall, August 6, 1927

Credit: City of Toronto Archives – William James Family Fonds

 

In 1858, the first Union Station was opened by the Grand Trunk Railway in a location just west of the current Union Station train shed. Constructed of wood, Grand Trunk Railway shared the facility with Northern Railway and the Great Western Railway. To keep up with a growing economy and population, Grand Trunk Railway constructed a second Union Station (on the same site as the first one) that opened on July 1, 1873. An expansion program was undertaken in 1892, including construction of a three-track train shed on the south side of the 1873 station. A seven-story office building (made of red brick and Credit Valley stone) was also built on Front Street. A covered passageway or arcade was created to connect the older and newer sections of the station. Although Union Station remained in use throughout its upgrade, the official opening occurred on January 1, 1896.

 

Union Station 1873-1927, Toronto, Ont. September 1894

Union Station (1873-1927), Toronto, Ont. (September 1894).

 

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a variety of railway companies served different Canadian cities and often built their own railway stations. Toronto was no exception but the “great fire” in Toronto’s downtown area on April 19, 1904 (which destroyed 14 acres of the city’s downtown manufacturing and warehousing district) served as a catalyst for the railway companies to pool their resources and build one railway station in downtown Toronto, even though the railway station itself was not damaged. The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) leased land from the City of Toronto east of the second Union Station (bordered by Bay and York Streets) in 1905. Both the GTR and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) decided to design and build a third Union Station within the context of increased transcontinental railway traffic encouraged by the Government of Canada.

On July 13, 1906, the GTR and the CPR jointly established the Toronto Terminals Railway (TTR) as equal partners, incorporated under the auspices of the Government of Canada, to "construct, provide, maintain and operate at the City of Toronto a union passenger station". The TTR began construction of the third Union Station in 1914 but the onset of the First World War led to shortages in building materials and skilled workers. Consequently, the construction of the twentieth-century Union Station extended into 1920. However, the opening of the third Union Station did not happen for another seven years as the approach track system connecting to the station was designed and built by the TTR. An additional complication ensued with the Grand Truck Railway going bankrupt, only to be nationalized by the Government of Canada and absorbed into Canadian National Railways (CNR) on January 30, 1923 after an arbitration process (involving GTR shareholders and management officials who were opposed to nationalization) ruled on the issue.

When the Prince of Wales officially opened Union Station on August 6, 1927, the building was completed but the track network was shifted on August 10, 1927 from the second Union Station to the third one with rail traffic commencing the following day. 

Union Station was designated a National Historic Site in 1975.

 

Union Station opened 1927, Front St. W., s. side, betw. Bay & York Sts.

Union Station (opened 1927), Front St. West, south side, between Bay & York Streets.

 

Union Station opened 1927, Front St. W., s. side, betw. Bay & York Sts. INTERIOR

Union Station (opened 1927), Front St. West, south side, between Bay & York Streets.; INTERIOR.

Consider the following title for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

The Open Gate Toronto Union Station

Book, 1972

 

Elizabeth Simcoe’s Diary Finds “Scarborough” on August 4: Snapshots in History

August 5, 2016 | John P. | Comments (1)

450px-ScarboroughBluffs10

Scarborough Bluffs (August 2006) – Credit: Swatigsood (Public Domain)

 

On August 4 and beyond, take a moment to remember the beginnings of that part of the City of Toronto known as Scarborough. On August 4, 1793, writing in her diary, Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe made reference to “the highlands of Toronto” with a bold shore exhibiting the appearance of chalk cliffs (but probably white sand). Elizabeth Simcoe and her husband, John Graves Simcoe, mused about the possibility of building a summer residence there and naming the area “Scarborough” after Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England. As John Ross Robertson noted in a published version of the Simcoe diary, Mr. and Mrs. Simcoe actually ended up with a residence at Castle Frank but the name “Scarborough” (applied to the east end of what is now the amalgamated City of Toronto) remained:

 

The diary of Mrs John Graves Simcoe reference to Scarborough on August 4 1793

 

Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe’s diary makes interesting reading for those interested in the early days of Toronto’s history. Click on the title page below to place a hold on a copy of the Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

The diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant-Governor of the province of Upper Canada 1792-6

Book

 

Or, read Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary online through archive.org .

Elizabeth Simcoe’s observations concerning a “Scarborough” in British North America have been acknowledged in local history books pertaining to the Scarborough (at one time a township and then a borough and a city in the former Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto) that now forms an integral district of the amalgamated City of Toronto. Readers interested in the history of Scarborough, Ontario should consider the following standard books on the subject:

 

A History of Scarborough edited by Robert R Bonis

eBook (PDF)

 

A History of Scarborough edited by Robert R Bonis

Book

 

A History of Scarborough reference to Elizabeth Simcoe and Scarborough

Source: The History of Scarborough edited by Robert R. Bonis

 

The people of Scarborough a history Barbara Myrvold

eBook (PDF)

 

The people of Scarborough a history Barbara Myrvold

Book

 

 

The people of Scarborough a history Barbara Myrvold with Elizabeth Simcoe quotation

Source: The People of Scarborough: a history by Barbara Myrvold

 

For more detailed information on Elizabeth Simcoe, please visit Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, 1762-1850 on the North York Central Library blog. For more information on John Simcoe, please visit Snapshots in History: February 25: Remembering John Graves Simcoe and York on the Local History & Genealogy blog.

Remembering Fort York’s Beginnings: July 30: Snapshots in History

July 30, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

 

 

 

Fort York looking east

(Fort York, looking east - March 1952 - Credit: James Victor Salmon Collection, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library – Accession Number S 1-829B)

Fort York barracks looking w

(Fort York, barracks, looking w[est]., 1934 – Credit: Margaret Maud (Hicks) Howard Collection, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library - Accession Number E 1-10n)

 

Looking w. to Queen's Rangers camp, foot of Bathurst St. Elizabeth P Simcoe July 30 1793

(Looking w. to Queen's Rangers camp, foot of Bathurst St. – Credit: Elizabeth P. Simcoe, July 30, 1793. Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library. Accession number 934-1-1.)

Residents of the City of Toronto as well as visitors to the city may have the opportunity to visit Fort York National Historic Site in downtown Toronto. On July 30 and beyond, take a moment to remember Fort York’s beginnings on July 30, 1793 as Upper Canada’s Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe acted upon the survey conducted of the harbor area by Joseph Bouchette and made the decision to establish a military garrison (complete with arsenal), accompanied by a town named York which became the capital of Upper Canada, was captured on April 27, 1813 by American forces during the War of 1812 (after the decision of Major-General Isaac Brock in 1811 to strengthen the garrison in anticipation of war), and eventually was renamed Toronto in 1834.

The British blew up Fort York’s gunpowder magazine in April 1813, killing 250 American invaders including Brigadier-General Zebulon Pike. The Americans had occupied York for six days, looting houses, destroying provisions, and burning Government House and the Parliament Buildings. The Americans returned briefly in July 1813 to burn barracks and other buildings that they had missed in April 1813. Afterwards, the British rebuilt Fort York that was sufficiently strong to repel another attempted American invasion in August 1814. The British continued to station troops in Fort York following the War of 1812, although most troops were re-located to a new barracks one kilometre to the west of Fort York in 1841. The Dominion of Canada assumed most of the responsibility for Canadian defense in 1870, including Fort York. After the weaponry became obsolete, the Army continued to use Fort York and its facilities for administrative, storage, and training purposes up to the 1930s. A military presence continued at Fort York even during World War Two.

Fort York was opened as a historic site museum on Victoria Day 1934 and operates in a similar capacity today with support from the Friends of Fort York as well as interested community members.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Setting a fine table historical desserts and drinks from the officers' kitchens at Fort York  

The military does not function with discipline, strategy, tactics, and weapons alone. Soldiers need to be fed. This book includes 30 selected recipes taken from the officers’ kitchen in Fort York, from the historic, inaugural recipe to its modern equivalent. The recipes are placed into context with explanations on choice and use of local food sources.

 

Historic Fort York 1793-1993 

The book was published in Fort York’s bicentennial year. Carl Benn looks back at the important role that Fort York played in the 1790s, the War of 1812, the 1837 Rebellion, the defense of Canada during the American Civil War, and more recently, as a national historic site commemorating the past. 

Also available in eBook format.

 

Consider watching the following DVD:

Structures. Fort York, Show #7, 2006 [1 videodisc] / Structures (Television Program); Rogers Television, 2006. DVD. Documentary. 

This documentary explores the historic buildings on the Fort York National Historic Site.

 

If you are interested in exploring more digitized historical pictures of Fort York from Toronto Public Library collections, please click here.

 

Remembering Elizabeth Simcoe’s Arrival at Toronto: July 29: Snapshots in History

July 29, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Looking east from around foot of Bathurst St. Elizabeth P Simcoe 1793

Looking east from around foot of Bathurst St. – Elizabeth P. Simcoe, 1793?

 

Looking s. towards Gibralter Point, showing firing of salute Elizabeth Simcoe 1793

Looking s. towards Gibralter Point, showing firing of salute – Elizabeth P. Simcoe, 1793

 

Elizabeth Posthuma (Gwillim) Simcoe, 1762-1850 circa 1790

Elizabeth Posthuma (Gwillim) Simcoe, 1762-1850 (circa 1790)

 

On July 29 and beyond, take a moment to remember the arrival of Elizabeth Posthuma (Gwillim) Simcoe, the wife of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, at Toronto on July 29, 1793. (The next day, Toronto would become York only to become Toronto again in 1834.) We should be grateful to Elizabeth Simcoe for leaving to posterity her diaries documenting her travels as well as her artwork depicting various scenes around Toronto/York. Her diary entry for July 29, 1793 (accompanied by subsequent commentary and notes by eminent Toronto historian John Ross Robertson) stated the following:

The diary of Mrs John Graves Simcoe reference to arriving at Toronto on July 29 1793

 

Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary provide those interested in Canadian history with a snapshot of personal life experiences. Borrow a copy of Mrs. Simcoe’s diary from Toronto Public Library collections by placing a hold:

 

The diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant-Governor of the province of Upper Canada 1792-6

 

Book

 

 

Or, read Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary online through archive.org .

 

For more detailed information on Elizabeth Simcoe, please visit Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, 1762-1850 on the North York Central Library blog.  For more information on John Simcoe, please visit Snapshots in History: February 25: Remembering John Graves Simcoe and York on the Local History & Genealogy blog.

 

Remembering Sir Frederick Banting and Insulin: July 27: Snapshots in History

July 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

 

 

On July 27 and beyond, take a moment to remember Sir Frederick Grant Banting (Born: November 14, 1891 at Alliston, Ontario; Died: February 21, 1941 at Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland from wounds and exposure to the elements following a airplane crash.) whose is best known for his life-saving and life-changing work on the discovery of insulin that improved lives for millions of diabetics all over the world. On July 27, 1921, Banting initially isolated insulin from a dog’s pancreas, working in conjunction with colleagues J.J.R. Macleod, Charles Best, and James Bertram Collip. Beginning on January 11, 1922, insulin (initially called isletin) was administered to 14-year old Leonard Thompson (who had Type 1 diabetes) at Toronto General Hospital. Thompson initially had an allergic reaction to Banting and Best’s extract; however, on January 23, 1922, Thompson reacted more positively to an extract developed by J.B. Collip. For this discovery, Dr. Banting was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923 with Dr. John James Rickard Macleod. Macleod had provided Banting with access to laboratory facilities at the University of Toronto in 1921 along with the assistance of a medical student, Dr. Charles Herbert Best. Banting was angered at the Nobel Committee for ignoring Best’s contribution in the discovery of insulin so Banting gallantly shared his half of the Nobel Prize money with Best. In response, Macleod shared his half of the Nobel Prize money with Collip. (Best succeeded Dr. Macleod as professor of physiology at the University of Toronto in 1929.) In addition to being the youngest Nobel laureate in medicine/physiology, Banting also received the Reeve Prize in 1922 from the University of Toronto, was awarded an annual life annuity of $7,500 by the Canadian government in 1923, and was knighted by King George V in 1934 as well as becoming a Vice-President of the Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK). Banting also became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1935.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Breakthrough Banting Best and the race to save millions of diabetics  

Journey back to 1919 where a frail 11-year old Elizabeth Hughes has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes with the only accepted form of treatment being starvation. Due to the work of Banting and Best, marred somewhat by scientific jealousy and business rivalry, Elizabeth Hughes becomes one of the first diabetics to receive insulin injections while the discoverers and the Eli Lilly and Company work to mass produce insulin in order to help diabetics all over the world.

Also available as an eBook.

 

Frederick Banting hero healer artist  

Consider this readable biography of Banting that included his exploits in the Canadian Army Medical Corps that led to his being awarded the Military Cross in 1919 for heroism on account of treating wounded soldiers for 16 hours, while being wounded himself. Continue the story of Banting’s life by reading about his work with Charles Best and others on isolating insulin to treat diabetics around the world.

Also available as an eBook.

 

The discovery of insulin 3rd pbk ed 

Consider this multi-awarding winning book (including the City of Toronto Book Award) by University of Toronto Professor Emeritus of History Michael Bliss about the discovery of insulin by the Canadian research team of Banting, Best, Macleod, and James Bertram Collip. 

Click here for the 1982 edition of this title.

 

Banting a biography  

Read this acclaimed biography by Professor Michael Bliss of Frederick Banting’s ascent to celebrity status following the discovery of insulin and his subsequent frustrations in scientific discovery, a failed marriage to a socialite that ended in scandal, his attempt to seek solace through his work and painting, and his untimely death in a plane crash. 

Click here for the 1984 edition of this title.

Did you know that November 14th (Banting’s birthday) is also World Diabetes Day as proclaimed by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization? For more information on diabetes and resources available in Toronto Public Library collections, please visit Toronto Public Library’s Health and Wellness Blog and view the blog post Diabetes by Numbers….

 

 

Remembering William Lyon Mackenzie King: July 26: Snapshots in History

July 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

640px-Grave_of_William_Lyon_Mackenzie_King

Credit: Paul Joseph - Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

On July 26 and beyond, take a moment to remember the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King (Born: December 17, 1874 at Kitchener (previously Berlin), Ontario; Died: July 22, 1950 at Kingsmere, Québec; Buried: July 26, 1950 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario), who was Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister (for approximately 22 years and 5 months) from December 29, 1921 - June 28, 1926, September 25, 1926 - August 7, 1930, and October 23, 1935 - November 15, 1948.

The grandson of former Mayor of Toronto and 1837 Rebellion leader, William Lyon Mackenzie, W.L.M. King served as the Member of Parliament for York North in the early 1920s during his inaugural term as Prime Minister of Canada. In another connection to Toronto, he also influenced the outcome of the York South by-election of February 9, 1942 by declining to let a Liberal Party candidate stand as former Prime Minister and political rival Arthur Meighen (who was in favour of conscription) was seeking to return to the House of Commons as leader of the Conservative Party once again. Liberal supporters divided between supporting the winning Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) candidate Joseph W. Noseworthy (some federal Liberals supported the CCF campaign) and Arthur Meighen (Ontario Liberal premier Mitchell Hepburn, a critic of Prime Minister King, supported Meighen).

King’s governments implemented a variety of social programs including old age pensions in 1926, unemployment insurance in 1940, and family allowances in 1944. King was Prime Minister during World War Two. Canada declared war on Germany on September 10, 1939, fully one week after Great Britain and France had done so as Prime Minister King wanted a vote of war declaration from Canada’s Parliament on its own timetable as a means of asserting Canada’s independence. Canada’s role in the war is well-known through its military participation in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and through the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 1942 and the invasion of Hong Kong in 1941. Arguably, less known might be the important role that Canada played in the implementation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in which some 131,500 Canadian and Allied air personnel received flying, navigational, bomb aiming, air gunning, and wireless operator training across Canada during the Second World War. Canada was also a major player in nuclear research with the establishment of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories in Deep River, Ontario in 1944 and the subsequent operation of the NRX reactor in 1947.

Prime Minister King and his government had to weather the Conscription Crisis of 1944 that followed up on a 1942 plebiscite asking Canadians to release the Canadian government from its pledge not to send any troops overseas (that was made in the 1940 Canadian general election campaign). The country was divided at that time with English-speaking Canada voting 83% in favour of sending troops overseas as needed and French-speaking Canada voting 73% against sending troops overseas with 63% of Canadians in favour overall of instituting conscription. Mr. King had a penchant for getting out of tough spots politically and rebounding from political defeats as in the elections of 1917, 1925 and 1930. The government also imposed the internment of Japanese-Canadians (and seizure of their property) in 1942 following the air attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Empire on December 7, 1941. (The government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized for this injustice carried out against the Japanese-Canadian people in September 1988 and instituted a compensation package.) On a happier note, Canada was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 with Prime Minister King (who also served as his own Secretary of State for External Affairs for many years) in attendance.

William Lyon Mackenzie King has served as a puzzle to many Canadians with some familiarity of Canadian history. Arguably, he is the best educated Prime Minister to date with a total of five university degrees (B.A., M.A. (University of Toronto); LL.B (Osgoode Hall Law School); M.A., Ph.D (Harvard University), and the only Prime Minister to date to have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree. On the other hand, some have learned of Mr. King’s connection with the occult and communing with spirits of dead individuals from his past, including his mother and former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and his use of an ouija board and a crystal ball.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

Prime Ministers ranking Canada's leaders

This book by historians Granatstein and Hillmer was a result of a Maclean’s magazine study that consulted 25 Canadian historians and political scientists on ranking all of Canada’s Prime Ministers up to the late 1990s but listed in chronological order of service. Despite perceived personal peculiarities, William Lyon Mackenzie King was ranked first as the best Prime Minister in the “Great” category. Kim Campbell was evaluated to be the worst Prime Minister. Brian Mulroney placed eighth in the “Average” category whilst Joe Clark finished fifteenth in the “Below Average” category.

 

Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King so similar so different

Winston S. Churchill and W.L. Mackenzie King were contemporaries as they were born about two weeks apart in 1874. However, each took a different path into politics, viz.: King through academics and Churchill through military adventure. In the 1930s, Churchill, an isolated backbencher, was extremely prescient about the dangers of fascism and Nazism while King tended towards appeasement of the Nazis. Nonetheless, King came around to the dangers of the fascists and gave full support to Great Britain’s war effort once Canada’s Parliament had declared war first, one week after Great Britain and France had. 

Also available in eBook format.

 

Consider watching the following interview with author Terry Reardon:

 

 

King William Lyon Mackenzie King a life guided by the hand of destiny

Levine offered the reader the first biographical review of Canada’s best educated (Ph.D, Harvard University) and longest-serving (and arguably the most unusual) Prime Minister in many years. On the one hand, King consulted mediums to gain contact with deceased family members and political mentors. On the other hand, he showed great political foresight in outmanoeuvring political opponents and keeping the country together. 

Also available in eBook and Talking Book (Restricted to Print Disabled Patrons) formats.

 

Warlords Borden Mackenzie King and Canada's World Wars  

Read historian Tim Cook’s dual biography of Canada’s two world war Prime Ministers: Robert Laird Borden and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Despite a lack of charisma, the author contended that both leaders were “warlords” in a Canadian way and had to navigate a number of similar issues: developing armed forces from a civilian base, conscription, mobilizing war finances and production, and keeping labour peace. On the issue of conscription, Borden was prepared to divide the country to achieve victory while King was very much concerned with keeping the country together. Both Prime Ministers’ governments used internment of people as an instrument during wartime: King’s government interned Japanese-Canadian people while Borden’s government interned the Ukrainian-Canadians under the pretext of being “enemy aliens”. 

Also available in eBook format. Read the review from Quill and Quire. Read the review from Digital Journal.

 

Consider watching this video of author Tim Cook discussing this book:

 

 

Consider borrowing the following public performance rights DVD from Toronto Public Library collections:

Mackenzie King and the conscription crisis

This documentary combined archival footage with excerpts from The King Chronicles, a dramatic series written and directed by Donald Brittain. Faced with a divided country on the conscription issue during the Second World War, W.L. Mackenzie King could only put off the decision for so long even though he was deeply concerned about the potential fracturing of the country. Some scenes included graphic language.

 

 

 

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