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The City: Introduction
In the late 1800s, Canadian cities were in the process of a major transition due to great population increases, industrialization and a growing middle class. Toronto was no exception, and in terms of its population size and industrial production, was second only to Montreal in these years.

The industrial boom drove Toronto’s growth in the late nineteenth century, with industries such as publishing, furniture–making, meat–packing, breweries, and the manufacturing of clothing, engineering components, and agricultural machinery taking the lead.

Although the arrival of a modern, industrial workforce brought wealth to many of the city’s inhabitants, it also brought pollution, crowded streets and rapid population growth. The arrival of the streetcar system, and later the prominence of the automobile, also radically changed public space.

The modern city was something of a paradox: on one hand, symbols of prosperity and wealth were plentiful, with grand buildings, modern factories and abundant jobs; on the other hand, there was pollution, increasingly visible poverty and disease and a growing impression that the city was the cause of a variety of social and physical ills. The significant influx of immigrants and sharp division of wealth further served to create an atmosphere of class and ethnic strife.

Industry, Progress and Prosperity
By the 1890s, Toronto had become a major industrial, financial and cultural centre in Canada. Although they were signs of pollution, steam engines at the railway yards and soot and smoke from industrial production were also seen as symbols of progress and prosperity.
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
Driving through the bustling streets of Toronto in 1930.
Film excerpt: Algonquin Park, 1930
(Library and Archives Canada, VI 2006-09-0004)
Yonge Street, south of King Street, Toronto, c. 1890
(Toronto Reference Library, T12854A)
Yonge Street looking south from north of College Street, Toronto [n.d.]
(Toronto Reference Library, 976-21-3A)
"Birds eye view, Toronto." Commercial Canada: It’s Progress and Opportunities, Leeds: Redman Book Company, 1913
(CSTM/Rare Book Collection)
"King Street, looking east, Toronto" Commercial Canada: It’s Progress and Opportunities, Leeds: Redman Book Company, 1913
(CSTM/Rare Book Collection)
Bay Street from City Hall, Toronto [n.d.]
Although industrial factories would come to pollute the city and make Toronto’s formerly scenic waterfront unsightly, these factories meant something else to a great many citizens: jobs.

Unskilled labourers found work, working-class women got jobs in garment factories in significant numbers by the early twentieth century and factory barons found unprecedented wealth.
Interior of a Stelco factory, Hamilton. From a 1931 Stelco catalogue
(CSTM/Trade Literature Collection, L35650)
Interior of a piano factory in Toronto. Canada To-Day 1926-7: The Annual Reference Book on Canada, its Progress, Prosperity and Opportunities, London: The Canada Newspaper Company Ltd., 1927. (CSTM/Rare Book Collection)

"Toronto the Good and beautiful is one of the finest cities on the continent in point of beauty, wealth, and intelligence, as it is unquestionably the leading commercial city of the west. It supplies to a large extent the requirements of Manitoba and the North West, and promises to seriously rival Montreal in the extent of its wholesale trade."

Christopher St. George Clark (actor's representation)
Of Toronto the Good: A Social Study: The Queen City of Canada as it is, 1898.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Yonge Street looking south from north of College Street, Toronto [n.d.] (Photo Detail)
(Toronto Reference Library, 976-21-3A)
Toronto’s growing wealth during this period is also illustrated by the construction of landmark institutions that became symbols not only of material wealth, but also of the establishment of Toronto as a modern metropolis.

In 1899, Toronto’s third City Hall was completed, after eleven years of construction and a cost of over $2.5 million. At the time, it was Toronto’s biggest structure and the largest municipal building in North America.

In 1893, the Ontario Legislature was officially opened at Queen’s Park, with construction having been completed in 1892.
Old City Hall, Toronto [n.d.]
The Ontario Legislative Building, Toronto [n.d.]
Another important institution for Toronto’s growing well-to-do, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, completed construction of its new clubhouse in 1919. Edward, Prince of Wales, laid the cornerstone on August 25 of that year.

Significantly, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club was constructed on Toronto Island, away from the city itself. Visitors to the Club not only enjoyed the fruits of their own, and Toronto’s, industrial wealth, but simultaneously participated in a small escape from their urban environment.
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Toronto [n.d.]
The 32-floor Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building was constructed in 1931. At the time, it was a Canadian architectural marvel, and was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth until 1962. Built during the Depression, it also existed as a symbol of faith in the continuing development of Canada.
Bank of Commerce building, Toronto [n.d.]
In addition to being an industrial and financial centre, Toronto was becoming a hub of cultural activity. The city was home to the University of Toronto, churches and theatres. It was a place not only of growing population, wealth and industrial activity, but also where ideas were created.
University of Toronto [n.d.]
St. James Cathedral, Toronto, opened in 1853 [n.d.]
Promoters often declared Toronto to be a fine city, teeming with cultural attractions. Guide books from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also suggested that Toronto was an excellent place to begin a tour of Eastern Canada.
Toronto skyline [n.d.]
"The Toronto of the present offers many attractions to the visitor. It is the best possible place to pause and lay one’s plans. It may fairly claim to be called the intellectual centre of the Dominion. Filled with a homogenous and successful population, looking back upon a past of wonderful achievement, and forward to a future bright with all possibilities, it is instinct with the sanguine and self-reliant spirit of this young Canadian people."

Charles G. D. Roberts (actor's representation)
The Canadian Guide-Book: The Tourist’s and Sportsman’s Guide to Eastern Canada and Newfoundland, 1891.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
View from the waterfront, Toronto, 1933 (Photo Detail)
View from the waterfront, Toronto, 1933
External Links

The History of Toronto: An 11,000-Year Journey - City of Toronto website. Discusses Toronto from pre-history to present day

University of Toronto A Rich Tradition. History of the University of Toronto. Includes an image gallery, video clips and a virtual museum
Pollution, Public Space and the Poor
While the modern, industrial city had much to offer, it was also a place of rapid transformation - not all of which was considered to be for the better.

A great source of concern about the city came not only from industrial pollution, but also from the increased visibility of poverty and disease, and the evolution of transportation systems, most notably, the appearance of the automobile.

With these changes to city life, the experience of the city as a problematic place where the individual was subject to forces of physical and moral corruption was aggravated.
King Street, Toronto [n.d.]
View down Bay Street, Toronto, 1930
"Now comes a change. The visitor approaching over the lake sees, not the bright city roseate with the evening sun, but a vast volume of smoke, betokening a change, perhaps an inevitable change, in the destination of our city."

Goldwin Smith (actor's representation)
"Toronto: A Turn in Its History,"
The Canadian Magazine, April 1907.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Streetcar construction, Toronto [n.d.] (Photo Detail)
The first horse-drawn streetcar route in Toronto was built in 1861, by Alexander Easton of the Toronto Street Railway Company, to move a rapidly expanding population.

The arrival of the streetcar, and later the automobile, signalled the permanent alteration of street space in Toronto. People and motorized vehicles competed for space, and the streets became increasingly congested and dangerous.

Another concern was that the modern, sedentary lifestyle, combined with dirt and congestion, had ill effects on both the physical and mental health of city dwellers.
Streetcar construction, Toronto [n.d.]
Side view of a Toronto Railway Company open air electric vehicle [n.d.]
"Observers have noticed that the people of America are becoming less fit to stand physical strain and exposure. . . . Is there not a menace in this for the future? Are not we the descendants of the older North Americans becoming effeminate, as have done so many of the advanced civilizations of the past?"

L.O. Armstrong (actor's representation)
"Out of Doors," Rod and Gun in Canada, June 1904.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
An argument in the Ward, Toronto, 1920 (Photo Detail)
(Archives of Ontario, series F 4436-0-0-0-184)
Throughout the nineteenth century, Toronto’s population had grown steadily. This was not only due to migration and immigration, but also to the city’s annexation of neighbouring territories. Still, by 1911, Toronto was home to about 30,000 recent immigrants -- many of whom were poor and came from rural areas. Aside from the British Isles, many immigrants hailed from places in continental Europe, such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy and Russia. There was also considerable Jewish immigration, chiefly from Russia and Central Europe.

These newcomers to Canada were often viewed with disdain by those who had been long-established in Toronto. The immigrant population tended to set up residence in the poor, run-down areas of Toronto such as "the Ward" (northwest of Queen Street).
Child immigrants [n.d.]
An argument in the Ward, Toronto, 1920
(Archives of Ontario, series F 4436-0-0-0-184)
Two immigrant women in St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, 31 October 1914.
(Library and Archives Canada, PA-061303)
Esplanade Street waterfront characters, Toronto, 1896
(Archives of Ontario, series C 7-1-0-0-59)
As the urban poor clustered in low-rent neighbourhoods, concentrated slum areas appeared. Poverty and slum housing was associated with poor sanitary conditions, crime, disease and declining morality.
One of the city’s poor, Toronto, c. 1915
(Archives of Ontario, series F 1075-15-0-0-111)
Exterior of a poor person’s house, Toronto, 14 August 1913
(City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 11, Item 94)
"Every health officer is aware of the localities which give him the most trouble concerning the acute infections. . . . It can be shown that there is a correlation between insanity, tuberculosis, alcoholism, syphilis, and overcrowding in one-roomed tenements and insanitary dwellings of our large cities."

Dr. P. H. Bryce, Chief Medical Officer, Interior Department of Canada (actor's representation)
"Saving Canadians from the Degeneracy Due to Industrialism in Cities of Older Civilization," 1912.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Exterior of a poor person’s house, Toronto, 14 August 1913 (Photo detail) (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 11, Item 94)
Congested dwelling, rear 512 Front Street, Toronto, 27 August 1914 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 32, Item 315)
Congested dwelling, rear 512 Front Street interior, Toronto, 27 August 1914 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 32, Item 316)