Toronto - the Queen City

Thursday, 6 September 1894 - Toronto, Canada

I have been at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition which runs from the 3rd to the 15th of September. The first Industrial Exhibition was held in 1879 and was such a success it was continued every year. In 1912 it will be renamed the Canadian National Exhibition.

The most notable building is the Crystal Palace, based on the original Crystal Palace at the Great International Exhibition of 1851 in London. Toronto’s Crystal Palace actually predates the Toronto Industrial Exhibition. Built in 1858, it was moved to this area in 1878, it’s former site becoming too small for the fair and exhibitions held there. Sadly it will be destroyed in a fire in 1906, but now it’s quite beautiful.

Toronto's Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace is dedicated to exhibits by various manufacturers here in Toronto. Much of the other buildings are full of livestock and produce. This is as much a country fair as an industrial exhibit. There is a gallery showing off the work of various local artists, as well as live fish and reptiles in the Natural History Hall. There are athletic events, horse races, band music, entertainments and firework displays in the evening. This is really a big celebration of how far Toronto has come.

Upon this very site of the fair, the first non-native structure was built in 1750. Fort Rouillé was a small French trading post that was abandoned in 1759. There really wasn’t a European presence here until a little spat down south between the English colonies and the Crown.

Most colonists thought a revolution was a daft idea, but as the tide turned against the British army, most people made sure to be on the winning side. Some folks of integrity stuck to their guns. These were called Loyalists. They had read the history books and knew what a mistake getting rid of the monarchy had caused in England in 1651. Others among them thought independence wasn’t a bad idea, but felt it could be won peacefully. For their idealism, the Loyalists had their property confiscated by their fellow Americans.

Great Britain offered to help the Loyalist immigrate to someplace more hospitable. Some went to the Caribbean, others to England, but most headed north to those English Colonies who had not joined the rebellion. One of those places was a tiny settlement on the shores of Lake Ontario, a place named York. In 1834 they renamed York with the native name of Toronto to distinguish itself from New York City.

1804 Toronto (then called York)
In 1851 the population of Toronto soared to 30,000 as Irish immigrants came pouring in, trying to escape the Irish Famine. Recently Germans, Italians and Jews have been coming in large numbers. Toronto has grown to 181,000 by 1891!

Today at the Exhibition is Pioneer Day. Even though Toronto is a large metropolitan city, there are still folks alive who can be called pioneers. The oldest building in town has been moved to the Exhibition Grounds in 1879. It is the cabin of John Scadding built in 1794. Only 100 years ago, Toronto would have been nothing more than a collection of a few dozen these cabins. Now she is one of the largest cities in Canada. A 100 years from now she will be the largest. No wonder the Victorian have nick-named her the "Queen City."

Toronto in 1894

Toronto Industrial Exhibition through the years

A program of the 1894 Industrial Exhibition printed by the Ontario Society of Artists (free download)

tribute pamphlet available at the John Scadding cabin written by Rev. Dr. Scadding for 1894 (free download)

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