Time for a little history:
|John Graves Simcoe|
from a painting by
George Theodore Berthon
Simcoe was also charged with the responsibility of establishing a capital, a seat of government and justice in the province. He stopped only briefly in Kingston, already a hub of trade and industry and headed further west to Niagara (Butlersburg) which he quickly renamed Newark and we now know as Niagara on the Lake. The first few sessions of the legislature were held there, but of course the area was way too vulnerable to attack from the Americans so Simcoe set his sights even further southwest to a location at the forks of the La Tranche River, a river he renamed The Thames (I mentioned this guy was English, right?), near where London, Ontario is today. Unfortunately Simcoe's boss, Guy Carleton was unimpressed and strongly suggested (in the army that means 'ordered'), that Simcoe take a look at some land to the east, between two rivers (the Humber and the Don) that boasted a great harbour. There was already a small garrison there, Fort Toronto. So in August 1793, Simcoe upped sticks and moved east, renamed the garrison Fort York and the surrounding settlement, York (I told you he was English!). Forty-one years later the citizens of York successfully petitioned the government to have the name changed back to Toronto (1834). The Simcoe family seemed to have liked the place even though it claimed their daughter Katherine in the Spring of 1794. She's buried in the shadow of the King West condos, somewhere underneath Victoria Square. John, his wife Elizabeth Gwillim and son Francis built a summer home, Castle Frank, on the west side of the Don River.
In July of 1796 the family sailed out of York on the Onondaga bound for England. Simcoe left behind a tidy little community of one storey frame buildings, the beginnings of a great north-south street, Yonge Street and an east-west route, Dundas Street.
Today I celebrate the great city of my birth, the little hamlet that grew, Toronto. Thank you John Graves Simcoe for being a good soldier and following orders!
My Toronto is:
|The Flat Iron Building|
|The Toronto Labyrinth|
|The Distillery District|
|ROM Rotunda ceiling mosaic (Murano glass)|
|The Royal Winter Fair|
|New Year's Day Espresso at Hot House Cafe, Front Street|
And so much more.
Thank you to Rick McGinnis for much of the history. Toronto photos ©April Hoeller