QUEEN CITY (1867 - 1939)

Toronto from post Confederation, the Great War, The Depression to the eve of WWII


Episode Two: Queen City straddles Toronto's post Confederation boom to the eve of the Second World War. Toronto wrestles financial control from the Bank of Montreal and begins to influence national policy. Timothy Eaton's catalogue unites the country and Canada's first woman doctor opens her practice. The religious fervour of the Orange Order puts the squeeze on fun - and on Irish Catholics. Yet local businessmen contribute to the first Jewish synagogue. They are not so generous to Chinese laundrymen - the city's first Black alderman takes up their cause in 1896. As suffragettes win the right to vote, the poor grapple with slums, child labour, and the devastation of the Great Fire. Italian immigrants rebuild the city, while Sir Henry Pellat erects Casa Loma castle.

Post Confederation Toronto´s population increases 700% in just 70 years. Toronto burrows back into its `Britishness' in response to increasing numbers of Catholic immigrants. It is a steadfastly Orange town.

The 1870s brings industry and prosperity - Toronto is on a roll. City bankers fiercely oppose the Bank of Montreal´s control over national finances and in 1871, successfully lobby for a Bank Act that allows better opportunity for local bankers and financiers. Colourful entrepreneurs like Timothy Eaton, Sir Henry Pellat and Massey-Harris bring money and opportunity to Toronto, and goods to the rest of the country. It is also the age of philanthropy when great men offer generous gifts: Allen´s Gardens, John Howard´s High Park, Massey Hall and the Fred Victor Mission for the destitute. The city´s face is lifted with bold new architecture like the Dominion Bank and Union Station. Later architect E.J. Lennox builds City Hall and Casa Loma. Even women get into the act - Canada´s first female doctor hangs out her shingle in 1868, though Dr. Emily Stowe waits years before being granted her licence. By 1882, Dr. Stowe and her suffragettes win single women the right to vote in municipal elections.

Ten years later the Great War swallows 10,000 Toronto men, while the pain of prohibition turns doctors into bootleggers. In the 1920s the city is re-invented with radio, burlesque and the astonishing triumphs of sports stars Lionel Conacher and Olympian, Bobbie Rosenfeld. The Group of Seven revolutionize art and Conn Smythe erects Maple Leaf Gardens. Then the Depression hits. Toronto takes in Canada's poor riding the rails towards hope, while local thugs turn on a Jewish baseball team in a bloody racist riot. As the dirty thirties end, war is declared. A day later, German torpedos sink an ocean liner. Two hundred innocent Torontonians are dead.



(Clockwise from top left)
1. Henry Pellatt, c. 1901, Builder of Case Loma
2. "Lights of a City Street" by F.M. Bell-Smith, 1894 R. Simpson Company
3. Timothy Eaton c. 1868
4. "Bobbie" Rosenfeld Canadian Female Athlete of the