Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Renewing the Old Town

Interesting reading in yesterday's Toronto Star regarding the latest efforts to increase awareness of the city's Old Town. This is the part that was originally settled when Upper Canada's first lieutenant governor, John Graves Simcoe, landed here in 1793 and declared what was then a patch of forest the new capital of the colony.

I've been spending some time investigating Toronto's early days for the Lake Ontario manuscript. Living in today's metropolis, it's hard to imagine what it must have been like back then. Simcoe actually set up a tent near the waterfront, and, with a group of soldiers, literally began carving the settlement out of the wilderness. Soon, a line of modest wooden houses sprang up along the shore, though the town grew slowly from there, and boasted only about 400 residents by 1800.

The colony's politicians, when they finally realized that Simcoe was serious about moving the capital to York, as it was then called, finally abandoned their residences in Niagara-on-the-Lake and arrived a few years after the lieutenant governor's initial landing.

There is certainly a disconnect between modern-day Toronto residents and their city's distant past. The Star article explores the reasons behind some of these. You can read it here.

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