Thursday, April 20, 2006

sketches of an imaginary small town

Context: this tale was inspired by a window display at George's Trains on Mount Pleasant Road.

Outside every large city, there lie charming small towns rich with character and history. One such place near the Warehouse is George City.

George City was founded in 1863 by Silas "Stinky Si" George, when he needed a place to hide after gunrunning for both sides during the American Civil War. George found the area, then known as Sulphur Gulch, a great hideaway for fellow tradesmen, as well as a great place to hide his poor personal hygiene. George was killed in a gunfight in September 1866 after he lost a card game and couldn't round up the 20 pounds of carrots his opponent, "Jackrabbit Slim" Hausenphefer demanded as payment. In tribute, the settlers renamed the town in George's honour and hold "Carrot Days" each September, complete with reenactments of George's final fight and "best Bugs Bunny imitation" contests.

Welcome to George City - See our Silos

Our first stop is out by the Farmer's Co-Op on the north side of town, with a site that may be oddly familiar to longtime North Toronto residents: the Dominion Coal Silos. George City was briefly home to a coal storage yard until mischievous school boys from the nearby Mackenzie Bowell Home for Wayward Youth lit a fire in May 1943 which burned for six months. Since then, the silos have stood as a memorial to the steady stream of area firefighters whose lives were shortening by this prime example of youthful tomfoolery. There is little chance these will make way for condominiums. Recent restoration efforts used a design closer to the Toronto silos, as the original paint had long faded.

Funeral in Blessed Relief Memorial Park

Many of the long-term victims of the coal fire currently reside in Blessed Relief Cemetery, just off of Main St behind Rusty's Cafe. This picture was taken during a recent memorial service, run by Father V.T Cann. Dr. Cann is reknown in the region for his rousing, revival-style burials. Mourners have been so swept up in the fervour and energy of Dr. Cann's speeches that their own funerals have followed in short order. - JB

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