The evolution from a small French trading post on Lake Ontario to a world-class City: the story of Toronto comes to life in this 90-minute documentary with archival footage from the early 1900s and interviews with leading historians and archaeologists. (Photo: City of Toronto Archives)
New immigrants George Brown, Timothy Eaton, Adam Beck and Sir Henry Pellatt bring their entrepreneurial skills to the new City of Toronto and pave the way for Confederation, electricity, innovative merchandising, impressive buildings, a castle (Casa Loma) and the hydro electric generators at Niagara Falls. See the Toronto 175 category for more episodes.
In 1834, when Toronto had a population of 9,000 people there were already 300 taverns. New immigrants William Gooderham and James Worts seized the opportunity to set up their own distillery and by the 1870s were the largest producers of whiskey in the world. They built right on the waterfront to take advantage of the ships and railways for distribution and when the First World War broke out turned their operation to produce gunpowder for the Navy. They put their wealth to good use building Little Trinity Church and set up the Bank of Toronto. The new Bank president James Austin moved his family to Spadina House, in what was then, the countryside. See the Toronto 175 category for more episodes.
Immigrants flooded the city and Toronto’s population shifts to a veritable United Nations. They came for a new beginning in a strange land and brought their skills with them helping to build the railways, the streets and the subway, and transforming the City. Descendants of those who established their homes and businesses in Kensington Market still live in the area and showcase the diversity of ethnicity, race, and religion. See the Toronto 175 category for more episodes.
Conflicts and Resolutions takes a look at Toronto’s involvement in times of War starting with Fort York an authentic War of 1812 site from which soldiers fought to protect Upper Canada from an American invasion. Toronto’s soldiers helped to make their country and the world safe enlisting in WW1 and WW2, and participating in conflicts from South Africa, Korea and Afghanistan to peace-keeping missions. Sunnybrook Hospital is built at the end of WW2, following an uproar with the appalling facilities that greeted the wounded on their return to the City.
The grand St. Lawrence Hall is built on the ruins of a burned out farmers market in what is now the historic neighbourhood of the Old Town of York. It quickly became the social centre for public gatherings and major events. Council Meetings were held in the first City Hall which was built immediately to the south on the shores of Lake Ontario. When Council outgrew the building it became the St. Lawrence Market but still retains the original Council Chamber. In 2012 the market was named the best food market in the world by National Geographic
The story of Ontario’s Government House and the official residences of the Lt. Governor from Simcoe’s tent to the first solid structure burned by the Americans during the invasion of Fort York in the War of 1812. Future residences included Castle Frank and the building of palatial Chorley Park which became a political issue and was eventually torn down.
In 1834 – tragedy strikes. Toronto is invaded by cholera then typhus and has to take drastic measures to save the population. An archaeological dig finds evidence of the immigrants who were sent to the fever sheds. John Rolph defies the British government and sets up a medical school which act eventually leads to the discovery of insulin by researchers, Banting and Best, at the University of Toronto
The story of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn, slaves on the run from Kentucky, is brought to life with help from the Provincial Marine re-enactment group in Amherstburg The Thornton’s started Toronto’s first horse-drawn taxi service.
Elected to the Legislature in his later years and expelled from Parliament five times, Toronto’s First Mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, was a prolific journalist, editor, and a rebel who rose up against the British government and was forced to flee Upper Canada. His legacy to the new settlement was immense.
Since the mid 1970s, producer/host, Anne Martin, has been bringing stories to life through the medium of television. She thrives on tracking down the unusual and her work has encompassed history, geology, heritage and a positive outlook on the world around us. Read more about Anne Martin.