The events, places, and characters that shaped Toronto into the city we know today.

Straitlaced Toronto
Corsets, tight-lacing, and the changing role of women in 19th century Toronto.

The War of the Welles
Radio listeners enjoying the strains of Ramón Raquello on the evening of October 30, 1938 grew anxious. The mellow music was interrupted by a steady stream of bulletins concerning the observation of strange activity on the surface of Mars. Around 8:10 p.m., Toronto played its role in the unfolding drama…

Hovercrafts to Mimico
Imagine skimming along Lake Ontario at 120 kilometres per hour, reading the newspaper on the way to work in the city. Inching along the congested Gardiner might’ve taken you up to an hour, but instead your commute aboard a massive passenger hovercraft makes the same journey in all weather in mere minutes…

Elvis in Toronto, 1957
Presley’s Maple Leaf Gardens concerts were among only five performed outside the U.S.
  Soaring into the Jet Age
How Avro’s Jetliner almost ushered in passenger jet travel, in 1949.
  Victory is in Sight
Four months after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela visited Toronto.
mandela 200


  • A hatless Abraham Lincoln, left of centre, on the platform at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, November 19,1863, from the Library of Congress (Digital ID # cwpb-07639). Historicist: “The World Will Little Note Nor Long Remember…” Jan. 21, 2017 12:00 PM - This post originally appeared on January 26, 2013. It was only about 270 words long, but the Gettysburg Address has resounded for generations. Abraham Lincoln’s appearance on a podium in the small Pennsylvania farm town on November 19, 1863, has been reported upon, debated, studied by academics, memorized by school children, and mythologized in fiction […]
  • The Toronto School of Medicine, ca. 1885, on Gerrard Street.  Courtesy of the Toronto Public Library. Historicist: The Toronto School of Medicine Jan. 14, 2017 12:00 PM - Dr. John Rolph arrived in York in 1831 with an impressive resumé. Having first earned medical and law degrees in England, he had spent 10 years in what is now southern Ontario, during which time he had pursued both law and medicine professionally, and also entered politics, first serving in the Legislative Assembly of Upper […]
  • Advertisement for SEI brand canned whale steak.  The Toronto Star, June 6, 1919. Historicist: Reinventing the Whale Jan. 7, 2017 12:00 PM - This article originally appeared August 18, 2012 Toronto, like so many other Canadian communities, was forced to change its habits during the First World War. In addition to losing so much of its citizenry and labour to service, Toronto also lost access to many of its supplies, as many items were either produced in smaller […]
  • Cartoon by Al Beaton, the Telegram, December 31, 1966. Historicist: Ringing in the Centennial Year Dec. 31, 2016 12:00 PM - “Canada’s Centennial year, beginning at midnight, will be a time for pleasure, a time for pride, and a time for some purposeful thought about this country’s second century.”—editorial, Toronto Star, December 31, 1966. We’re not sure how many Torontonians were in a contemplative mood as the final hours of 1966 ticked away. But, like the […]
  • Illustration by Brett Lamb. Historicist: “The Bull in a China Shop Had Nothing on This Cow” Dec. 17, 2016 12:00 PM - It was the kind of story that spurred the imagination of headline writers: “COW RUNS AMUCK FOR OVER TWO HOURS” (Globe) “PEOPLE WERE FRIGHTENED TO DEATH BY CRAZY COW” (News) “MILITANT COW ON THE WARPATH AT KENDAL AVENUE AND WELLS STREET” (Star) “MAD COW ON THE RAMPAGE” (Telegram) “THE BULL IN A CHINA SHOP HAD […]
  • The Toronto Telegram, May 26, 1934. Historicist: Pedestrian-blaming, 1930s style Dec. 10, 2016 2:20 PM - The Christmas of 1936 was a black one for Toronto. On December 26, newspapers reported on the holiday slaughter: three people killed, at least six people injured by hit-and-run drivers, and more than one hundred separate traffic collisions. In the years that followed, politicians, police officials, and concerned citizens promoted annual December public safety campaigns […]
  • A cycling riding in front of St. Patrick's Market on Queen Street, 1970s. Photo by Ellis Wiley. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 2, Item 125. Historicist: Cycling Through the Seventies Dec. 3, 2016 12:23 PM - This article originally appeared January 5, 2013 In the introduction to their booklet Bicycling in Toronto, Estherelke and Bob Kaplan imagined two ways the state of getting around the city on two wheels during the early 1970s might be viewed at the dawn of the 21st century: Maybe in 30 years or so our children’s […]
  • toronto st lawrence hall Historicist: The Noiseless Revolution Nov. 26, 2016 12:00 PM - The approximately 17-and-a-half minutes between 11:35 and 11:52 a.m. on November 19, 1883, didn’t officially exist in Toronto. When the time reached 25 minutes to noon on that day a little over 133 years ago, the city’s public clocks at St. Lawrence Hall, Osgoode Hall, Union Station, and at various fire stations quietly skipped almost […]
  • The new Sunnybrook Military Hospital.  Toronto Star, April 17, 1948. Historicist: Making Sunnybrook Military Hospital a Reality Nov. 12, 2016 12:00 PM - In 1928, the City of Toronto received an enormous gift: Sunnybrook Farm. The farm was a reported 70 hectares of mostly undeveloped land located just north of the city limits, stretching from Bayview to Leslie across a picturesque section of the Don River. The donor was Alice Kilgour, and Sunnybrook Farm represented part of the […]
  • toronto stork derby Historicist: The Great Stork Derby Oct. 29, 2016 12:00 PM - On Halloween night 1926, renowned lawyer Charles Vance Millar died of a heart attack at the downtown Toronto office of his law firm, Millar, Ferguson & Hunter. A wealthy man, Millar was president of the O’Keefe brewing company and a successful racing stable owner. In 1915, his horses, Tartarean and Fair Montague, finished first and […]

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