<PHOTO – @loner.matt . . . #StreetsofToronto>
Born and raised in West TORONTO’s Junction neighbourhood, TREVOR PARKINS-SCIBERRAS is a volunteer for the Junction Historical Society and the Canadian Transit Heritage Foundation. He recently became an educational partner with the TDSB, and has begun teaching Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) history in the schools.
Trevor also works with Lego to tell the story of TORONTO’s transit from the beginning to modernity. You can see his work at http://www.TravelBricks.com and on Instagram.
<PHOTO ABOVE – William’s Omnibus Line, ca1850>
<PHOTO ABOVE – Horse-drawn train car transit, ca1861-1891.>
<Small green and brown omnibus, Toronto Street Railway, ca1860’s. They ran as backups to the main fleet of horsecars.>
Media producer TREVOR PARKINS-SCIBERRAS has learned that relics from the earliest days of public transit in TORONTO are accumulating dust in Ottawa’s Science and Technology Museum. He wants them back where they belong. The major obstacle is finding a place to show them.
<Yorkville Omnibus, in service from 1849 to 1861 between TORONTO and the Village of Yorkville>
Once part of a museum display, the vehicles appear to be in excellent shape, but they’ve been in storage for decades. “They are part of TORONTO’s history, not Ottawa history,” Trevor says. “I really think the TTC could bring them back and run a touristic attraction for them, if they wanted.”
<John Thompson Omnibus, 1880, carried passengers from TORONTO to Richmond Hill>
Spokesman BRAD ROSS said the TTC has no record of heritage vehicles belonging to the TTC in storage in Ottawa – or anywhere else for that matter. “Vehicles are decommissioned and sold as scrap – and have been for years.” he said. “Where they go after that isn’t something we track.”
<1892 closed streetcar, Toronto Street Railway Company>
<One of TORONTO’s first double-deckers, 1921>
<Single-decker bus, Toronto Transportation Commission, 1922>
<PHOTOS – Trevor Parkins, Transit Toronto, blogto>
From the Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum – In August 1912, BEA WHITE of Regent Street, spent several weeks whacking or trapping flies, ridding her neighbourhood of the pests. She earned $50 (about $1250 now) for her efforts.
Why target the fly? To call attention to the unsanitary conditions that caused sickness and death in TORONTO’s overcrowded inner city. And why so many flies? Blame it on the horse. In this pre-automobile era horses produced piles of manure, perfect for breeding the “queen of the dung hill”
The contest was halted when organizers discovered some competitors were breeding flies to be killed. <IMAGES – City of TORONTO Archives>
EDMUND FALTERMAYER writes – “Canadians have seen their metropolises become better than ever. The most stunning improvement has taken place in TORONTO (1974), where a formerly tedious provincial capital has emerged as the world’s newest great city.”
<PHOTO – 1960’s skyline with the Admiral neon sign>
“In the 1950’s and 60’s TORONTO was so dull that a good time was a weekend in BUFFALO. TORONTO (1974) is a new sort of Fun City without angst or affectation – a place where the residents feel wondrously spared from the urban troubles to the south.”
<POSTCARD – the skyline in the 1970’s from the Gardiner Expressway>
“TORONTO (1974) is in amazingly good repair. The new downtown skyscrapers are bordered, not by a wide zone of decayed housing and glass strewn lots, but by flourishing neighborhoods, that are some of the city’s chief glories.”
“TORONTO (1974) has reined in suburban sprawl, kept its transportation in balance, and made sure that its streets stay safe and clean. In 1953, over-riding suburban objections, the province established a metropolitan government, which not only planned the region’s growth but also builds such basic facilities as arterial roads and trunk sewers.”
<PHOTO – Highway 401 interchange – Chuckman’s Nostalgia>
“In transportation, TORONTO (1974) has created the best of two worlds. There are a goodly number of expressways, including one twelve-lane monster (the 401) where the prevailing speed limit outside of rush hour is 75 miles-per-hour (121 km/hour). But these roads all go around the old urban core.”
<PHOTO – an all-red subway train by Robert Taylor, 1970’s>
“TORONTO’s subway system, begun in the early 1950’s, is needed to lure motorists out of their cars. The trains are immaculate, quiet and frequent. With fares subsidized at 25 cents, the average citizen rides the subway, buses and streetcars 158 times a year.”
<PHOTO – when police cars were yellow>
“Strict controls over handguns and comparatively unclogged courts get credit for the low TORONTO (1974) crime rate. A high level of maintenance deters littering and vandalism. Government has done a lot of things right.”
<PHOTO – an East York bungalow>
“Horrific inflation of housing prices is the one big blot on life in (1974) TORONTO. If this goes on, the non-affluent will be driven out of suburbs as well as the inner city. Mortgages in the TORONTO area carry a 12% interest rate; unpretentious new single-family homes recently sold for $65,000.”
<PHOTO – building the CN Tower – Photoscream>
To wind up his story, EDMUND FALTERMAYER wrote “ TORONTO may never reach the size of ‘world cities’ such as New York or Paris. But it has nonetheless won a secure place in the big time. Until something better comes along, the civilized city is still where many of the world’s civilized people prefer to be.”
<PHOTO – the waterfront, north of Billy Bishop Island Airport, in the 1970’s>
<ABOVE – encampment on the grounds of the University of TORONTO><PHOTO – Overseas Contingent – largest military parade ever held in TORONTO; Queen’s Park in the background.>TORONTO was headquarters for a military district spanning central Ontario, and became a focal point for recruiting, training and sending men and women off to war. As the War neared its end, the city faced food shortages and the Spanish flu pandemic.<ABOVE – Robert Ford Gagen’s painting “Shipbuilding – Ashbridges Bay, 1918”. During World War I there were four active shipyards in TORONTO. This one was at the foot of Sherbourne Street. Front and centre, the War Taurus><LEST WE FORGET – Remembrance Day, 2018>
“Drowning Sailor” was finished in 1946, and drew this comment from its painter, JACK NICHOLS (1921-2009): “When you are drowning, you lose your nationality, don’t you?”<PHOTO – JACK NICHOLS and his painting ‘Drowning Sailor’, 1945>
Deckhand, painter, printmaker, draftsman, educator – Jack Nichols was well known in art circles, but just an average man in his own neighbourhood – that is, until a blue plaque appeared outside 395A Sackville Street in TORONTO’s Cabbagetown.
His work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, the National War Museum & numerous private collections.This REMEMBRANCE DAY, November 11, marks an exact century since World War I ended. The sacrifices of Canadians who fought and died to promote democracy and human rights, are honoured by this garden of 11,800 flags on the lawn of Manulife’s headquarters, 200 Bloor Street East.
The flags honour the 118,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died in service – in Europe, South Africa, Afghanistan, and on peace-keeping missions around the world. Each flag represents 10 fallen soldiers. The flags will be on display until sundown, November 11th.