I guess an interest in history runs in my family as much as the travel bug does. The perfect example is my brother: a history teacher in England. He has way more to do with history than I ever will but that interest is still there. One of my favourite things is finding out about the history of the place I’m visiting. I believe there is so much you can learn about a place if you know about where they started.
I recently did a historical exploration of Toronto. I knew a bit about the history of the city thanks to my random late night Google searches but I’ve never visited any historical sites. I decided it was about time to see them. This is what I’ve found:
My Trip to the 1800s
Toronto’s urban community goes back 200 years and was a very different place than the bustling modern city it is today. I mean, it didn’t get the name Toronto until 1834 (previously known as the Town of York). Canada wasn’t even a proper country until 1867 and didn’t gain complete independence from Britain until 1931. There is lots of history around that goes even further back but I’ve always like the 1800’s as a time period so I’m going to stick to that for the propose of this blog. There are resources all over the Internet if you want to delve into it a bit farther.
St. Lawrence Market:
There is a lot of history behind this (not so) little market. In 1803 Lt. Governor Peter Hunter proclaims that the land between of Front to King and Jarvis to Church St. was officially known as the Market Block. The wooden structure was replace in 1831 with a brick one only to be destroyed in The Great Fire of 1849. But clearly that was not the end of the market. They rebuilt the Market Block area and included a new St. Lawrence Hall. It would go through a few renovations over the next century but is still used as a market today.
The Distillery District:
What is now known as the Distillery District was once a real distillery: Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Gooderham and Worts Distillery was founded in 1832 and grew to be the largest distillery in the British Empire. When production stopped in the 1990s, the area was used to film movies. In 2001 it was bought by Cityscape Holdings Inc and was reopened to the public in 2003 as a pedestrian area full of art galleries, coffeeshops, and unique boutiques.
I don’t think a trip back to the 19th century would be complete without a visit to Fort York. Fort York was built in 1793 to help defend Upper Canada from the United States. In 1812, the U.S. declared war and so began the War of 1812. Fort York was the place of the Battle of York in April 1813. The Americans occupied York for six day and destroyed the fort. The British began rebuilding Fort York and, by August 1814, it was strong enough to defend against any more American attempts. The area continued to be used by the army until the 1930s. It was restored and opened as a historical site museum in 1934, which is what it continues to be used for today.
I may just be a history nerd in loving every second of this trip to the 1800’s but I would recommend everyone at least take some kind of a look into history of a place they visit. Just like every person has a story that makes them who they are today, every place has a story that makes it what it is now.