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Thread: Evocative Images of Lost Toronto

  1. #256

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    I look at stories like that and wonder what would have become of him and the rest of the world had he survived that day. I think the same thing when I see tombstones of young people that died. The whole "butterfly effect".


  2. #257

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    I find stories such as that to be redolent of how stressful life could be before any sort of social safety net existed. I recall my grandmother's stories of how people would get dressed up before going to the hospital, as one wanted to appear to able to pay (and this was in Toronto, I might add). While the poor man clearly committed a "rash" act, I think he was under stresses we can only vaguely imagine from our perspective today.

  3. #258
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    Can anyone make out the amount of the cheque from that story? $41, $13? I can't tell.

  4. #259

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    Those were the days, eh?

    And while Mr. Travers was blowing his brains out in the Bank of Nova Scotia at Lansdowne and Queen, of the more than 370,000 Canadian men who had so far enlisted, 258,000 were stationed overseas and more than 100,000 were then in the battle lines of Europe:

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/p...h4-4069-e.html

  5. #260
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    That poor, stupid young man. Thirty years of life, and a century later all that remains of his memory is that short and stark newspaper article.

    And it turns up on this site only by sheer chance (and thanks to thedeepend's fine eye).

    "Evocative" indeed.

  6. #261

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    A remarkable and sad story. All the more so for its distance in the past. Thanks thedeepend.

  7. #262

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    Feb 27 1942. TV Soong visits the Toronto Inglis Bren gun factory.

    He was Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek's brother-in-law. The famous "Madame Chiang" of the famous Soong sisters was his sister.

    Interesting that he and a number of Chinese generals found time for a junket to Toronto [perhaps it was a side trip?]. The war against the Japanese invader was not going well at this point, within a fractured China that in the years to come would plummet into civil war with Mao Tse Tung coming out on top. My grandmother remembers that the treatment of wounded soldiers of his Nationalist army was left to the charity of the civilian populace.

    His brother-in-law H.H. Kung; was also Finance Minister of China for a time; and was celebrated as the "wealthiest man in China", with perhaps no or much irony depending on which side you were on.

  8. #263

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blovertis View Post
    That poor, stupid young man. Thirty years of life, and a century later all that remains of his memory is that short and stark newspaper article.
    I love the way these small stories remind us of how the past continues to dwell amongst us. The fact that we can still walk by this very bank today, and know that it is the exact same building and place where this unfortunate fellow took his life 94 years ago, is strangely haunting. There is no plaque, there's no memorial, and theres not a person alive who knew him but he lived and died in this very place.

    Its a small, tragic but ultimately insignificant story, buried deep in the paper on a day when the news was all about the sinking of the Britannic (the sister ship of the RMS Titanic) by the Hun, and the death of John Boyd. And yet stories like this (they dont have to be tragic) are much more likely to remind us of ourselvesbecause they remind us that behind the city we pass through and inhabit daily in 2010, is the memory of another city--with another set of people living in it who are very much like usand its the same place.

    Ive always liked the word palimpsest as a way of describing the way buildings are inscribed by history. It was a common practice, particularly in medieval ecclesiastical circles, to rub out an earlier piece of writing by means of washing or scraping the manuscript, in order to prepare it for a new text. A palimpsest is that manuscript on which an earlier text has been scrapped off, and the vellum or parchment used again and again. In time the same piece of parchment or vellum starts to show its age, and the residue of all the earlier texts starts to show through. I sometimes think cities are like that.


  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by thedeepend View Post
    I love the way these small stories remind us of how the past continues to dwell amongst us. The fact that we can still walk by this very bank today, and know that it is the exact same building and place where this unfortunate fellow took his life 94 years ago, is strangely haunting. There is no plaque, there's no memorial, and there’s not a person alive who knew him –but he lived and died in this very place.

    Its a small, tragic but ultimately insignificant story, buried deep in the paper on a day when the news was all about the sinking of the Britannic (the sister ship of the RMS Titanic) by the Hun, and the death of John Boyd. And yet stories like this (they don’t have to be tragic) are much more likely to remind us of ourselves—because they remind us that behind the city we pass through and inhabit daily in 2010, is the memory of another city--with another set of people living in it who are very much like us—and it’s the same place.

    I’ve always liked the word palimpsest as a way of describing the way buildings are inscribed by history. It was a common practice, particularly in medieval ecclesiastical circles, to rub out an earlier piece of writing by means of washing or scraping the manuscript, in order to prepare it for a new text. A palimpsest is that manuscript on which an earlier text has been scrapped off, and the vellum or parchment used again and again. In time the same piece of parchment or vellum starts to show its age, and the residue of all the earlier texts starts to show through. I sometimes think cities are like that.
    Beautifully put, deepend. Toronto, being such a young city has so few examples of palimpsest, unlike Rome where one can see the remains of Roman temples embedded into the side walls of Renaissance churches. Best example I can think of is the St. Lawrence Market.

    There was however a better example that is now gone for good and goes back to the beginning of the City's history, namely the original jail and courthouse that once stood at the north side of King between Toronto and Church Streets. They appear in some of the earliest renderings of the city and then vanish. They weren't immediately demolished though; they remained and became part of existing buildings that only revealed themselves in some later photographs during subsequent construction. York Chambers, which enveloped the old Jail on the corner of Toronto and King Streets, stood until the blitzkeig of the 1950's.

    How mysterious, how evocative of the past is the idea of "hidden" buildings, of living day-to-day with remnants from different eras, almost the reverse of "facadism" in that almost no one knows what's beneath the surface....

    Here's a little photo essay of some images I've assembled from the archives, the TPL website and from Eric Arthur's No Mean City:

    The location:







    Plaque on Toronto Street at Court:





    John Howard's proposal to integrate the two buildings into a new Guildhall complex:



    1845 (the King frontage gets filled in); view west from Jarvis:





    1851:



    1858:



    Original building on the King/Toronto corner:



    1884:



    1890:





    York Chambers:



    1910:



    On the right:







    View on Court Street:



    Views of the old Courthouse revealed....:





    ....when the corner Georgian building was demolished to build this.....:



    ......which along with this building on the SW corner of Church & Court (which had enveloped the Courthouse).....



    .....was eventually demolished to build this.....



    ....which was eventually demolished for a two storey parking garage.

    But for a few decades, it was one of the most complex blocks in Toronto, containing superb buildings (both seen and unseen) from every era, almost European in its secrets (note the side brick gable from the hidden Courthouse, just below the skylight of the building at Church & Court):



    The Jail:







    One of the last views devant le deluge:



    Today. all memory and traces gone of jails, courthouses and almost 200 years of history (except for the plaque by Bruce Bell; kudos to him):

    Last edited by thecharioteer; 2010-Feb-28 at 19:15.

  10. #265

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    Searching the online Toronto archives for Hollywood "stars" who visited Toronto; it's easy enough to find Sterling Hayden, Bob Hope, Perry Como, etc.

    But, this picture intrigued me: Adolph Menjou (on the left) and Major Hahn at the Inglis plant. Dated "194-". Menjou wasn't an "A" Lister". Why he was getting shown around an armaments factory is another mystery... His biography was titled" It Took Nine Tailors". He does look rather "sartorial" in this picture.


  11. #266

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    Quote Originally Posted by thecharioteer View Post

    There was however a better example that is now gone for good and goes back to the beginning of the City's history, namely the original jail and courthouse that once stood at the north side of King between Toronto and Church Streets. They appear in some of the earliest renderings of the city and then vanish. They weren't immediately demolished though; they remained and became part of existing buildings that only revealed themselves in some later photographs during subsequent construction. York Chambers, which enveloped the old Jail on the corner of Toronto and Church Streets, stood until the blitzkeig of the 1950's.

    How mysterious, how evocative of the past is the idea of "hidden" buildings, of living day-to-day with remnants from different eras, almost the reverse of "facadism" in that almost no one knows what's beneath the surface....











    View on Court Street:



    Views of the old Courthouse revealed....:





    But for a few decades, it was one of the most complex blocks in Toronto, containing superb buildings (both seen and unseen) from every era, almost European in its secrets (note the side brick gable from the hidden Courthouse, just below the skylight of the building at Church & Court):



    The Jail:







    One of the last views devant le deluge:



    Today. all memory and traces gone of jails, courthouses and almost 200 years of history (except for the plaque by Bruce Bell; kudos to him):
    Wow, that’s a really fantastic visual exposition. I actually had no idea about the history of this block. There is much to ponder here, and I am truly appreciative. I will now have ‘new eyes’ for viewing this area.

    I suppose there is more of a sense of the constancy of the past in these streets east of Yonge, than there is for example in the streets around King and Bay, where the obliteration of the earlier streetscape was absolute.

    For instance, since nothing remains of the buildings between Bay and York on King St, there is nothing there to even trigger a memory, and no residue of a previous history will ever emerge there.

    But walking these streets: Toronto, Church, Colborne, Court, Melinda, Leader Lane, you can’t help but know that ‘something else used to be here’. Some of it is scale—the streets are more narrow, and seem to occur in somewhat unpredictable manner. The corner of Leader Lane and Wellington seems particularly obvious in this way.

    Most importantly: buildings remain. The lovely block on the south side of Colborne between Church and Leader Lane is all one needs to be able to imagine that other version of the city and you can’t help but understand that these blocks used to be host to a richer and denser urban energy than they presently possess.

    In the instance you describe, there is little historical residue. All of it is gone; the street names survive, and the plaque functions as memorial marker. It is all the more powerful and poignant, given that these streets housed courthouse and jail, and were therefore truly occupied with matters of life, death and the individual tragic destinies of countless long forgotten men and women.

  12. #267
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    If you are interested in the Old Town area of Toronto you might enjoy Bruce Bell's columns in the Bulletin - the ghastly free 'newspaper' that serves the area. In the March column, not yet online, he talks about some of the old lanes and streets that are now gone and Leader Lane, that still remains. For at least some of his columns See: http://www.thebulletin.ca/cbulletin/...2&ctid=1000011 As noted in the posting by thecharioteer, Bruce Bell has managed to get the $$ together to erect quite a few historic plaques in the area and his local walking tours are very good fun.

  13. #268

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSC View Post
    If you are interested in the Old Town area of Toronto you might enjoy Bruce Bell's columns in the Bulletin - the ghastly free 'newspaper' that serves the area. In the March column, not yet online, he talks about some of the old lanes and streets that are now gone and Leader Lane, that still remains. For at least some of his columns See: http://www.thebulletin.ca/cbulletin/...2&ctid=1000011 As noted in the posting by thecharioteer, Bruce Bell has managed to get the $$ together to erect quite a few historic plaques in the area and his local walking tours are very good fun.

    thank you! i wasn't aware of Bruce Bell's work and i'm looking forward to reading these!

  14. #269

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    Good grief, thecharioteer. Thank you. This nets out that entire section of King street for me.

  15. #270

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    While I like St James Park it is a shame to see what they took down to build it.

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