Today the City of Toronto turns 180, so let’s take a quick peek at how far ‘Toronto the Good’ has come, by looking at historical snapshots of what has happened on this day in our shared heritage as Torontonians.
On this day in 1834, what had been the town of York incorporated itself under its original name. This was derived from the portage route called “Passage de Toronto” used by early French-Canadian traders to reach Lac Taranteau, which was later called Lake Simcoe. The phonetic equivalent ‘Toronto’ was a Huron word for the fishing weirs in the narrows connecting Lake Simcoe to present day Lake Couchiching.
The historic site for Fort Rouillé, on the south side of Exhibition Place, marks the location of what was more commonly known as Fort Toronto, built in 1750-51. It was established by order of the Marquis de La Jonquière, Governor of New France, to help strengthen French control of the Great Lakes and was located here near the important “Toronto” portage route to entice trade with natives travelling southeast toward the British fur-trading centre at the mouth of the Oswego River in the present day state of New York.
Almost a century later in 1852, a group of Toronto brokers formalised “a code of Rules and Regulations” that would underpin the formation of the Toronto Stock Exchange later on that year. No records survive of transactions conducted by this early group known as the Association of Brokers, though perhaps they might have traded in furs as well.
This day in 1884 also marks the opening of the first free public library in Toronto that would later become today’s Toronto Public Library. The newly created board was chaired by John Hallam (after whom Hallam Street is named), who opened this first library in the former “Mechanics Institute” at Church and Adelaide.
In 1889 we see a clear indicator of Toronto’s rigid and conservative upbringing, when Toronto Customs officials destroy novels by the French author Emile Zola on the grounds that they were “obscene”. Zola who was a major figure in the political liberalisation of France, would later be nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize for Literature in 1901 and 1902.
It’s great to see how much Toronto has loosened up in 180 years!
Cézanne’s Paul Alexis Reading a Manuscript to Zola
Well here we are on the first day of December, on the first day of Rob Ford’s mayoral mandate, and already we’re provided with the first examples of the kinds of media events and posturing that will either draw the first jeers of ridicule for the new regime, or the first signs of suburban solidarity from the 50% of Torontonians who brought Ford to power…Depending on which side of the tracks you’re sitting when the Rob Ford’s gravy-less train to municipal prosperity either rolls past, away from, or right over your neighborhood in it’s headlong rush to dismantle everything that doesn’t sit well with the new administration at City Hall.
If first impressions are anything to base our outlook on, then today’s events should be a telling reminder of what we can look forward to during at least one term of reactionary, pandering, and short-sighted politics here in Toronto, and the backlash driven political desires of it’s dispossessed suburbs.
If you think about it, you couldn’t blame Cyclists for hoping that at least a few intriguing new technological developments might come out of a geek-powered event named the Sustainable Mobility Summit. Thankfully that’s exactly what happened this past week at the 2010 Summit held in Ottawa Ontario, where Google Maps announced that its new Bike Directions service, which had already launched in the United States this past March, is now also coming to eight Canadian cities as well. Conference-goers were the first to learn that Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton Calgary, Winnipeg, Gatineau, and Waterloo, and Vancouver, will all be getting mapped out with Google’s Bike Directions. Furthermore, as the host city for the Summit, Ottawa will have the distinct honour of being the first bike-friendly urban center to boast GoogleMap’s new Bike Directions features here in Canada!
What’s interesting though, isn’t just what this service offers us here in the Present, but what it can evolve into in the very near Future…
Representatives from The Toronto Police and Traffic Services have had to step up public awareness of basic safety issues after 16 pedestrians have been injured in only 2 days. The most regrettable accidents are the ones that could easily have been avoided, and this particular rash of incidents points to many small factors that are entirely within the control of Pedestrians. So once again, we need to look at a problem from the point of view of personal responsibility, before we can start to fine tune the external factors that would help alleviate traffic and safety issues for everyone…
It might seem abit odd to start reviewing Toronto bikeshops at this time of year, but if you think about it, Autumn’s actually an ideal time to discover new and reputable sources of Sales or Service for our trusty and/or rusty mounts. So whether your seeking end-of-season clearance deals, or just some advise from a weathered Pro, now’s the time of year when bikeshops still have all their seasonal staff on hand, and they’re sure to also have some extra time for a more leisurely chat…about anything!
So, what are we looking for in such a crowded market for Bicycle Service and Repairs? How about basic good service. With that in mind, let’s start with a shop that isn’t just friendly, down to earth, and very well connected with the Community around it, but also a people-focused shop that knows how to provide what their Customers want, rather than telling them what they need, and how much longer it will take. Let’s start by looking at what West Side Cycle is offering that we won’t easily find anywhere else…
After having to delve into the underhanded PR methods that were used to develop and support the temporary Police State that was invoked during Toronto’s G20 Summit, it’s still rather difficult to remind ourselves of the beneficial roles that PR plays in forming and supporting Public Opinion. Rather than rehashing the litany of horrifying physical abuses and civil rights violations from last weekend though, let’s attempt to remind ourselves the role that PR can play in creating an orderly and peaceful society.
Here’s a great little piece of German PR that really helps put a proper perspective on how so many many more people could manage to peacefully use public roadways everyday… if they weren’t taking up so much more space with single-occupancy cars.
In case we’ve forgotten…Here’s what a clear and beneficial PR Message looks like: