( Originally Published 1913 )
CONCERNING Toronto it may be said that she combines in a somewhat unusual fashion British conservatism and American enterprise. Her neat streets are lined with solid and substantial buildings such as de-light the heart of the true Briton wherever he may find them ; and yet she has among these " the tallest skyscraper of the British Empire," although the sixteen stories of its altitude would be laughed to scorn by many a second-class American city.
Still, many a first-class American city could hardly afford to laugh at the growth of Toronto, particularly in recent years. She prides herself that she had doubled her population each fifteen years of her history and here is a geometrical problem of growth that becomes vastly more difficult with each oncoming twelvemonth. At the close of the second war of the United States with England, just a century ago, Toronto was a mere hamlet. Beyond it was an unknown wilderness. The town was known as York in those days, and although Governor Simcoe had already chosen the place to be the capital of Upper Canada, it was a struggling little place. Still, it must have struggled manfully, for in 1817 it was granted self-government and in 1834, having garnered in some nine thousand permanent residents, it was vested with a Mayor and the other appurtenances of a real city. Since then it has grown apace, until today in population and in financial resource it is very close upon the heels of Montreal, for so many years the undisputed metropolis of the Dominion.
But perhaps the spur that has advanced Toronto has been the knowledge that west of her is Winnipeg, and that Winnipeg has been doubling her population each decade. And west of Winnipeg is Calgary, west of Calgary, Vancouver; all growing apace until it is a rash man who today can prophesy which will be the largest city of the Dominion of Canada, a dozen years hence. The Canadian cities have certainly been growing in the American fashion to use that word in its broadest sense.
And yet the strangest fact of all is that Toronto grows — not more American, but more British year by year. Within the past twelve or thirteen years this has become most marked. She has grown from a Canadian town, with many marked American characteristics, into a town markedly English in many, many ways. Now consider for a moment the whys and the wherefores of this.
We have already told of the rapid progress of Toronto, now what of the folk who came to make it? In the be-ginning there were the Loyalists—" Tories " we call them in our histories ; " United Empire Loyalists," as their Canadian descendants prefer to know them — who fled from the Colonies at the time of the Revolution and who found it quite impossible to return. In this way some of the old English names of Virginia have been perpetuated in Toronto, and you may find in one of the older residential sections, a great house known as Beverly, whose doors, whose windows, whose fireplaces, whose every detail are exact replicas of the Beverly House in Virginia which said good-by to its proprietors a century and a half ago.
Those Loyalists laid the foundations of Toronto of today. The municipality of Toronto of today is, as you shall see, most progressive in the very fibers of its being, ranking with such cities as Des Moines and Cleveland and Boston as among the best governed upon the North American continent. Such civic progress was not drawn from the cities of England or of Scotland or of Ireland. And Toronto was a well organized and governed municipality, while Glasgow and Manchester were hardly yet emerging from an almost feudal servility. Be-cause in Toronto the old New England town-meeting idea ' worked to its logical triumph. The Loyalists who had left their great houses of Salem and of Boston brought more to the wildernesses of Upper Canada than merely fine clothes or family plate.
To this social foundation of the town came, as stock for her growth through the remaining three-quarters of the nineteenth century, the folk of the north of Ireland. The southern counties of the Emerald Island gave to America and gave generously — to New York and to Boston; to New Brunswick and to Lower Canada. The men from the north of Ireland went to Toronto and the nearby cities of what is now the Province of Ontario. And when Toronto became a real city they began to call her the Belfast of America. For such she was. She was a very citadel of Protestantism. Her folk trans-planted, found that they would worship God in their austere churches without having the reproachful phrase of " dissenter " constantly whipped in their faces. Toronto meant toleration. So came the Ulster men to their new Belfast. For more than sixty years they came — a great migrating army. And if you would know the way they took root give heed to a single illustration.
One of these Irishmen had founded a retail store in the growing little city of Toronto. It thrived — tremendously. News of its success went back to the little north of Ireland village from whence its owner came.
" Timothy Eaton's doin' well in America," was the word that passed through his old county. Timothy Eaton and those who came after him took good care of their kith and kin. For the Eaton business did prosper. To-day the firm has two great stores — one in Toronto and one in Winnipeg — and they are not only among the largest in North America but among the largest in the world.
This is but one instance of the way that Toronto has grown. And when, after sixty years of steady immigration there was little of kith and kin left to come from Ireland, there began a migration from the other side of the Irish channel, a new chapter in the growth of Toronto was opened.
No one seems to know just how the tide of English emigration started, but it is a fact that it had its beginning about the time of the end of the Boer war. It is no less a fact that within ten or fifteen years it has attained proportions comparable with the sixty years of Irish immigration. The agents of the Canadian government and of her railroads have shown that it pays to advertise.
There is good reason for this immigration of course. Canada, with no little wisdom, has given great preference to the English as settlers. She has not wished to change her religions, her language or her customs. The English, in turn, have responded royally to the invitation to come to her broad acres and her great cities. The steamship piers, at Quebec and Montreal in the summer and at Halifax and St. Johns in the winter, are steadily thronged with the newcomers, and they do not speak the strange tongues that one hears at Ellis island in the city of New York. They bring no strange customs or strange religions to the growing young nation that prides herself upon her ability to combine conservatism and progress.
And just as Toronto once did her part in depopulating the north of Ireland, so today is the Province of Ontario and the country to the west of it draining old England. It is related that one little English village — Dove Holes is its name and it is situate in Derbyshire —has been sadly depleted in just this fashion. Eight years ago and it boasted a population of 1250 persons. Today 500 of that number are in America — a new village of their own right in the city of Toronto, if you please — and Dove Holes awaits another Goldsmith to sing of its saddened charms. One resident came, the others followed in his trail to a land that spelled both opportunity and elbow-room. Your real Englishman of so-called middle class, even gentlemen of the profession or service in His Majesty's arms, seem to have one consuming passion. It is to cross Canada and live and die in the little West Coast city of Victoria. Victoria stands on Vancouver island and they have begun to call Vancouver island, " Little England." In its warm, moist climate, almost in its very conformation, it is a replica of the motherland of an Englishman's ideal ; a motherland with everything annoying, from hooliganism to suffragettes, removed.
But Victoria is across a broad continent as well as a broad sea, and so your thrifty emigrant from an English town picks Toronto as the city of his adoption. Winnipeg he deems too American ; Montreal, with her damnable French blood showing even in the street-signs and the car-placards, quite out of the question. But Toronto does appeal to him and so he comes straight to her. There are whole sections of the town that are be-ginning to look as if they might have been stolen from Birmingham or Manchester or Liverpool — even London itself. The little red-brick houses with their neat, small windows are as distinctively British as the capped and aproned house-maids upon the street. In the States it takes a mighty battle to make a maid wear uniform upon the street. In Toronto it is not even a question for argument. The negro servant, so common to all of us, is unknown. The service of the better grade of Toronto houses is today carefully fashioned upon the British model — even to meal hours and the time-honored English dishes upon the table. And in less aristocratic streets of the town one may see a distinctively British institution, taken root and apparently come to stay. It is known as a " fish and chip shop" and it retails fried fish and potato chips, already cooked and greasy enough to be endearing to the cockney heart.
Remember also that the city upon the north shore of Lake Ontario is an industrial center of great importance. You cannot measure the tonnage of Toronto harbor as you measured the harbor of Cleveland —alongside of the greatest ports of the world — for Ontario is the lonely sister of the five Lakes. No busy commercial fleet treks up and down her lanes. But Toronto is a railroad center of increasing importance; they are still multiplying the lines out from her terminals and, as we have just intimated, she is a great and growing manufacturing community. Her industrial enterprises have been hungry for skilled and intelligent men. They have gradually drafted their ranks from the less-paid trades of the town. Into these places have come the men from the English towns. The street cars are manned by men of delightful cockney accent, they drive the broad flat " lourries," as an Englishman likes to call a dray, they fit well into every work that requires brawn and endurance rather than a high degree of intellectual effort.
Just how this invasion will affect the Toronto of to-morrow no one seems willing to prophesy. The men from Glasgow and from Manchester are used to municipal street railroads and such schemes and the New England town-meeting ideas, which were the products of Anglo-Saxon spirit, come home to rest in English hearts. The street railroad system of Toronto may groan under its burden — it is paying over a million dollars this year to the city and is constantly threatened with extinction as a private corporation. But the Englishman of that city merely grunts at the bargains it offers — six tickets for a quarter; eight in rush-hours, ten for school children and seven for Sabbath riding, all at the same price and wonders "why the nawsty trams canna' do better by a codger that's workin' like a navvie all the day?"
Toronto will see that they do better that is her vision into the future. But just how the new blood is to infuse into some of the Puritan ideas of the town there is another question. Here is a single one of the new puzzling points the temperance problem. It was not so very long ago that Canada's chief claim for fame rested in the excellence of her whiskey and that despite the fact that the Canadian climate is ill adapted to whiskey drinking. The twelfth of July which you will probably recall as the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne — used to be marked by famous fights, which invariably had marine foundations in Canadian rye. However, during the past quarter of a century, the temperance movement has waxed strong throughout Ontario. Many cities have become " dry" and it is possible that Toronto herself might have been without saloons today if it had not been for the English invasion. For your Englishman regards his beer as food —" skittles and beer" is something more than merely proverbial and he must have it. He looks complacently upon the stern Sabbath in Toronto Sunday in an English city is rarely a hilarious occasion but he must have his beer. Up to the present time he has had it.
But these problems are slight compared with the problem of assimilation of alien tongues and races, such as has come to New York within the past two decades. The Englishman is but a cousin to the Canadian after all, and he shows that by the enthusiasm with which he enters into her politics. He entered into Mr. Taft's pet reciprocity plan with an enthusiasm of a distinct sort. With all of his anti-American and pro-British ideas he leaped upon it. And when he had accomplished his own part in throttling that idea he exulted. Whether he will exult as much a dozen years hence over the de-feat of reciprocity is an open question. But the part that the transplanted Englishman in Canada played in that defeat is unquestioned, just as the part he is playing in providing her with useless Dreadnoughts for the defense of other lands is undisputed.* The Englishman is no small factor in Canadian politics; he is a very great factor in the political situation in the city of Toronto.
Lest you should be bored by the politics of another land, turn your attention to the way the Toronto people live. They have formal entertainments a-plenty — dinners, balls, receptions — a' great new castle is being built on the edge of Rosedale for a gubernatorial residence and presumably for the formal housing of royalty which often comes down from Ottawa. There are theaters and good restaurants, and no matter what you may say about her winters, the Canadian summers are delightful. For those who must go, there are the Muskoka Lakes within easy reach, Georgian bay and the untrod wildernesses beyond. But if we lived in Toronto, we think we should stay at home and enjoy that wonderful lake. There are yacht-clubs a-plenty alongside it, bathing beaches, sailing, canoeing— the opportunity for variety of sport is wide. In the milder seasons of the year there is golf and baseball, football, or even cricket, and in the wintertime tobogganing and snowshoeing and iceboating. No wonder that the cheeks of the Toronto girls are pink with good health.
In the autumn there is the big fair officially the Canadian National Exhibition which has grown from a very modest beginning into a real institution. Last year nearly a million persons entered its gates, there were more than a hundred thousand admissions upon a single very big day. Delegations of folk came from as far distant as Australia — there were special excursion rates from all but three of the United States. It is not only a big fair but a great fair, still growing larger with each annual exhibition. Toronto folk are immensely proud of it and give to it loyalty and support. And the Canadian government is not above gaining a political opportunity from it. We remember one autumn at Toronto three or four years ago seeing a great electric sign poised upon one of the main buildings. It was a moving sign and the genius of the electrician had made the semblance of a waving British banner. Underneath in fixed and glowing letters you might read :
ONE FLAG, ONE KING, ONE NATION
To see Toronto as a British city, however, you must go to her in May — at the time of her spring races. The fair is very much like any of the great fairs in the United States. The race-meet is distinctly different. In the United States horse-racing has fallen into ill-repute, and most of the famous tracks around our larger cities have been cut up into building lots. The sport with us was commercialized, ruined, and then practically forbidden. In Canada they have been wiser, although the tendency to make the sport entirely professional and so not sport at all has begun to show itself even over there. But in Toronto they go to horse-races for the love of horse-racing, and not in the hopes of making a living without working for it.
The great spring race-meet is the gallop for the King's Guineas. It is at the Woodbine and in addition to being the oldest racing fixture in America it is also just such a day for Canada as Derby Day is for England. If you go to Toronto for Plate Day — as they call that great race-day — you will be wise to have your hotel accommodations engaged well in advance. You will find Plate Day to be the Saturday before the twenty-fourth of May. And, lest you should have forgotten the significance of the twenty-fourth of May, permit us to remind you that for sixty-four long years loyal Canada celebrated that day as the Queen's birthday. And it is today, perhaps, the most tender tribute that the Canadians can render Victoria — their adherence to her birthday as the greatest of their national holidays.
If you are wise and wish to see the English aspect of Toronto, you will reserve your accommodations at a certain old hotel near the lakefront which is the most in-tensely British thing that will open to a stranger within the town. Within its diningroom the lion and the unicorn still support the crown, and the old ladies who are ushered to their seats wear white caps and gently pat their flowing black skirts. The accents of the employes are wonderfully British, and if you ask for pens you will surely get " nibs." The old house has an air, which the English would spell " demeanour," and incidentally it has a wonderful faculty of hospitality.
From it you will drive out to the track, and if you elect you can find seats upon a tally-ho, drawn by four or six horses, properly prancing, just as they prance in old sporting-prints. Of course, there are ungainly motorcars, like those in which the country folk explore Broad-way, New York, but you will surely cling to the tally-ho. And if your tally-ho be halted in the long and dusty pro-cession to the track to let a coach go flying by, if that coach be gay in gilt and color, white horsed, postilioned, if rumor whispers loudly, " It's the Connaughts the Governor-General, you know," you will forget for that moment your socialistic and republican ideas, and strain your old eyes for a single fleeting glimpse of bowing royalty.
For royalty drives to Plate Day just as royalty drives to Ascot. Its box, its manners and its footmen are hardly less impressive. And in the train of royalty comes the. best of Toronto, not the worst. Finely dressed women, jurists, doctors, bankers — the list is a long, long one. And in their train in turn the artisans. The plumber who tinkers with the pipes in your hotel in the morning has a dollar up on the " plate," so has the porter who handles your trunk, so have three-quarters of the trolley car men of the town and yet they are not gamblers. The " tout " who used to be a disagree-able and painfully evident feature of New York racing is missing. So are the professional gamblers, the betting being on the pari-mutuel system. And the man who loses his dollar because he failed to pick the winning horse feels that he has lost it in a patriotic cause. It should be worth a miserable dollar to see royalty come to the races in a coach.
From Toronto we will go to her staunch French rival, Montreal. If we are in the midsummer season we may go upon a very comfortable steamer, down the lonely Ontario and through the beauties of the Thousand Is-lands. And at all seasons we will find the railroad ride from Toronto filled with interest, with glimpses of lake and river, with the character of the country gradually changing, the severe Protestant churches giving way to great tin-roofed Roman churches, holding their crosses on high and gathering around their gray-stone walls the houses of their little flocks.
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