On the corner of Bloor and St. George, across the street from the University of Toronto, a young black man was seeking donations for his campaign to expand Black History month from February to a year round celebration of black culture.
He turned away from me once he realized I was not going to give him money, but not before I noticed Nesta Robert Marley on the cover of his multi-page Black History handout, aka Bob Marley, the Jamaican reggae music star. One of Marley’s lyrics came to mind,
If you know your history
Then you would know where you’re coming from
Buffalo Soldier – Bob Marley
I mention this with regard to an entirely different encounter earlier that day with another Canadian working the information desk at the Toronto Archives who could not answer my question of what was meant by the historical terms of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. These names were used frequently in a display on why Toronto is not the capital of Canada.
Upper Canada was the province created by the British in 1791 that included most of southern Ontario and what is now Toronto. This region had seen an influx of English Loyalists emigrating from the American colonies after finding themselves on the losing side of the American Revolution. Their British patriotism, English language and customs differentiated them from the French-speaking region of what is now Quebec, land that was ceded to Great Britain by France after their loss in the Seven Years War (1756-1763).
If you were one of the 200 students or so I taught during my 5th grade public school teaching career, then you probably received more exposure to the French and Indian War (as we refer to this war in the U.S.) than any 10-year old should be expected to know.
Upper Canada was a political entity for 50 years and ‘upper’ refers to the lands in the upper headwaters regions of the St. Lawrence River in contrast to the Lower Canada regions of the St. Lawrence River occupied primarily by French Canadians with their historically distinct customs and Catholic religion.
My Toronto Walking Tour
The cohesion between these articles on Toronto are simply the sites I saw when walking along a fairly narrow west-east strip of the city while traveling between the two InterContinental Hotels in Toronto and the harbourfront in the south up to Casa Loma about three miles to the north.
Downtown Toronto North to South Part One covers Casa Loma, Spadina House, Toronto Archives and Baldwin Steps.
Royal Ontario Museum
Canada’s largest museum of natural and cultural history is the Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor Street and the thirty minutes I had to visit before the doors closed meant I could only see one exhibit.
I chose the First Peoples gallery.
Late 19th century Abenaki birch bark canoe was similar in size and shape to the fiberglass canoe I helped ten other paddlers row out to Toronto Island Park the previous day.
Futalognkosaurus was named in 2007 and is the first cast of this creature in the world and largest dinosaur displayed in Canada.
Crystal (2007) is the Daniel Libeskind designed addition to the Royal Ontario Museum.
The museum originally opened in 1912 as a joint development between the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto.
University of Toronto
Kings College was founded by royal charter in 1827 as the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada. (There was a reason for the political geography info earlier in this post.)
University of Toronto is the largest landholder in Toronto.
I love visiting colleges and walking college grounds. The energy of thinking minds revitalizes my senses.
Three days prior to my Royal Ontario Museum visit, on a Saturday afternoon, I had walked the Philosopher’s Walk as winds rocked the trees, leaves flew by my head and into my eyes and branches fell, just minutes before the skies wailed. Fortunately I was only steps away from my room at the InterContinental Yorkville Toronto.
Trinity College, University of Toronto.
The University of Toronto was holding reunion events all weekend I stayed at the InterContinental Yorkville.
An interesting observation was my perception on Friday that the University looked to be filled with women by a vast majority.
The following day I had the opposite perception in that the grounds were overwhelmingly filled with men.
Nutz! This black fur squirrel was just so cute!
The Prince of Wales officially opened Queen’s Park during the Royal Tour of 1860. Named for Queen Victoria, Queen’s Park signifies the 19th century public parks movement in Canada. The Prince of Wales later became King Edward VII.
King Edward VII statue in Queen’s Park, Toronto.
Queen’s Park is a wonderful green space in Toronto with old trees.
Trees for Toronto
I could learn much more about tree identification if I were to spend time hanging out in Toronto’s parks. I like the fact that many trees are identified with signs.
Norway Maple, Queen’s Park, Toronto.
Ontario Legislative Building
The Ontario Legislature meets in a building erected on the site of the original Kings College of University of Toronto at Queen’s Park.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) statue in front of Ontario Legislative Building. She chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada in 1857.
Ontario Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto opened in 1893.
Sir John A. MacDonald (1815-1891) was the first Prime Minister of Canada.
The plaque on the statue describes MacDonald as an immigrant from Glasgow, Scotland to Upper Canada in 1820. As a lawyer he was elected to the provincial legislature and was a leader in the campaign to create the Dominion of Canada July 1, 1867. He served as Canada’s Prime Minister from 1867-73 and 1878–1891.
Walking south of Queen’s Park is where green space becomes far more scarce and Toronto’s concrete and skyscraper face becomes the dominant feature of the downtown city.
University Avenue, looking south from Queen’s Park to modern Toronto. This is the area where most brand name hotels are located like Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and Sheraton.
And that portion of my Toronto walks is covered in Downtown Toronto North to South Part Three.
Blogger Disclosure: Royal Ontario Museum admission was courtesy of Tourism Toronto as an attendee of the TBEX Toronto conference (Travel Blog Exchange). Regular adult admission price is $16.00.
Downtown Toronto North to South part one (June 5, 2013).
Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.