History of Toronto

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John Graves Simcoe

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Early Settlement "Muddy York"

Native Canadians had long stopped here in the entrance to the Toronto Trail, a short route between the Lower and Upper lakes. In 1615, French fur trader Etienne Brule was the first european to travel the trail. It was not until 1720 that the French established the first trading post, known as Fort Toronto (the Huron word Toronton meant "place of meetings").

In the wake of the American Revolution, the Loyalist fled North and British decided it was time to carve a capital city out of the nothern wilderness. In 1791, the Bristish established Upper Canada (modern day Ontario) as a province, and it's first lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe, decided that Toronto's location made it strategically and militarily important.

James Madison, 4th President of the United States.
Further sealing the deal, the British had already purchased a vast tract from the Mississauga tribe for a sum of 1,700 pounds, plus blankets, guns, rum, and tabacco. In 1793 , Simcoe , his wife, Elizabeth, and the Queen's Rangers arrived in Toronto, which Simcoe immediately renamed "York" in honor of Fredrick. Duke of York. Simcoe ordered a garrison built and laid it out in a 10-block rectangle around King, Front, George, and Berkley streets. York was notorious for it's always-muddy streets, earning the nickname "Muddy York".

The War of 1812

When America declared war on Britain in the War of 1812, President Madison assumed it would be easy to invade and hold Canada. The opposite provedto be true. In April 1813, 14 ships carring 1,700 troops invaded York, looting and destroying the Parliment buildings, Fort York Garrison, and much of the settlement.

William Lyon Mackenzie, first mayor of Toronto
The American's suffered many losses and failed to take any more Canadian territory. In retaliation, British and Canadian troops marched on Washington D.C. in 1814 and burned all goverment buildings, including the American president's residence. (The Americans later whitewashed it to hide the charred wood, hence, the White House.

The Early 1800's

In 1834, the city was incorporated, and York became Toronto. In 1843 the University of Toronto opened; this was an intellectual achievment but also an aesthetic one, since the University added new and beautiful architecture to the city. As increasing number of immigrants arrived, demands arose for democracy and reform.  Among the reformers were such leaders as Francis Collins, who launched the radical paper "Canadian Freeman" in 1825.

Henry Pellatt, stockbroker, president of the Electrical Development Company, and builder of Casa Loma
William Lyon Mackenzie , who was elected Toronto's first mayor in 1834. Immigration was changing Toronto more than anything else. During the 1820's, 1830's, and 1840's, immigrants, Irish, Protestants, and Catholic, Scots, Presbyterians, Methodist, and other non-conformist arrived in droves. By 1832 Toronto had become the largest urban community in the province, with a population of 1,600. By the 1850's, roughly 3% of Toronto's population was black. But the biggest change was the arrival of the Irish. In early 1847, Toronto's population stood at 20,000. That summer 38,000 Irish immagrants fleeing the Great Famine landed in Toronto, forever changing the city. Many were sick with Typhus, and more 1000 perished after arriving in Toronto.

Canadian Confederation and The Late Victorian Era

During the early 1850's, the building of the railroads accelerated Toronto's booming economy.

Casa Loma
By 1860, it was a trading hub for lumber and grain imports and exports. Merchant empires were founded, railroad magnates emerged, and institutions such as the Bank of Toronto were established. The foundation of an industrial city were laid; Toronto gained waterworks, gas, and public transportation. Despite it's wealth, Toronto lagged behind Montreal, which had twice the population of Toronto in 1861. But Toronto increasingly took advantage of it's links to the south, and that edge eventually helped it overtake it's rival. Under the Confederation of 1867, the city was guaranteed another advantage; As the capital of the newly created Ontario province, Toronto controlled the minerals and timber of the north. By 1891, Toronto's  population was 181,000. The business of the city was business, and amassing wealth was the pastimeof such figures as Henry Pellatt.
Old City Hall
He was a stockbroker, president of the Electrical Development Company and builder of Casa Loma. The prominent businessman also had a fondness for clubs, the Albany Club for the Conservaatives and the National Club for the Liberals. As in England , their sports clubs (notably the Royal Yacht Club, Toronto Cricket Club, Toronto Golf Club, and the Lawn and Tennis Club carried a certain cachet. The boom spurred new commercial and residential construction. Projects included the first steel- framed building "Board of Trade Building"(1889) , George Gooderham's Romanesque-style mansion (1890), known as the York Club, and city hall 1899. By 1891 the city had 68 miles of tracks for horse drawn cars.  Electric lights, telephones, and electric streetcars appeared inthe 1890's.
Outside construction of Union Station

The Great Depression

Toronto's great fire of 1904 demolished  14 acres of downtown and the damage was estimated $10,000,000(1904 dollars). The cause of the fire was never discovered. Between 1901 and 1921, Toronto's population more than doubled from 208,000 to 522,000. The economy continued to expand, fueld by the lumber, mining, wholesale and agriculture, and machinery industries, and, after 1911, by hydroelectric power. Much of the new wealth went into new construction, and three buildings from this era can still be seen today, The Horiculture Building, King Edward Hotel, and Union Station. The booming economy and it's factories attracted new waves of new immigrants mostly Italians and Jews from Russia and eastern Europe, who settled in the city's emerging enclaves.

King Edward Hotel in 1908
By 1912, Kennsington Market was well established, and the Garment Center and Jewish community were firmly established as well. By 1911, more than 30,000 Torontoians were forigen-born. When Britain entered World War 1, Canada was pulled immediately into it as well. Toronto sent 10,000 men to the trenches; about 13,000 killed.  The 1920's, roared along, fueld by a mining boom that saw Bay street turned into a gold-rush alley where everyone was pushing something hot. The Great Depression followed, inflicting 30% unemployment  in 1933.  The opening of the Maple Leaf Center in 1931 relieved Torontonians of the bleakness of the times. Besides being a ice-hockey center, it was host to large protest rallies during the Depression and to such diverse entities as the Jehovah's Witness, Billy Graham, the Ringling Bros.
Maple Leaf Gardens
Circus, the Metropolitan Opera, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles.

1950's and Beyond

At the beginning of the 1950's the foreign-born were 31% of the population; by 1961, they were 42%, and the number of people claiming British descent had fallen from 73% to 59%. The 1960's brought an even richer mix of people, Portuguese, Greeks, West Indians, South Asians, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Chilean refugees, changing the city's character forever.  In the 1970's, the provincial goverment also help develop attractions that would polish Toronto's patina and lure visitors: Ontario Place in 1971, Harbourfront in 1972, Metro Zoo and the Ontario Science Center in 1974. The CN Tower is another development from that era, and for more than 3 decades it was the tallest free-standing building structure in the world.

CN Tower

The city of Toronto is going to be an amazing place to visit. I'm looking for to the diversity of the city.

 

sarahsan says:
Congrats on getting your travel blog featured! Well done!
Posted on: Sep 26, 2009
Jacqinmiddenamerika says:
Congrats on your featured blog!! :-)
Posted on: Sep 26, 2009
Koralifix says:
Congrats on today's feature! Very well done!
Posted on: Sep 26, 2009
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John Graves Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe
James Madison, 4th President of th…
James Madison, 4th President of t…
William Lyon Mackenzie, first mayo…
William Lyon Mackenzie, first may…
Henry Pellatt, stockbroker, presid…
Henry Pellatt, stockbroker, presi…
Casa Loma
Casa Loma
Old City Hall
Old City Hall
Outside construction of Union Stat…
Outside construction of Union Sta…
King Edward Hotel in 1908
King Edward Hotel in 1908
Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens
CN Tower
CN Tower
Board of Trade Building
Board of Trade Building
Toronto Flag
Toronto Flag
Toronto Coat of Arms
Toronto Coat of Arms
David Miller 63rd Mayor of Toronto
David Miller 63rd Mayor of Toronto
Tampa
photo by: ejames01