Tuesday, January 28, 2014

vintage letters to the editor department: "he should be forgotten, not revered"

While doing some research for the next installment of Torontoist's "Meet a Mayor" series at the city archives this week, I found a photocopy of the following letter to the editor, submitted to the Toronto Star in late 1972. Seems this correspondent was no fan of our first "rebel mayor," William Lyon Mackenzie.

Source: Toronto Star, December 5, 1972. Click on image for larger version.
The writer was wrong to state that Mackenzie's writings had never been republished; Oxford University Press published a curated selection of our fiery first mayor's opinions in 1960 (The Selected Writings of William Lyon Mackenzie).  The letter writer's tone echoes sentiments felt by the Family Compact and their Tory allies during the 1820s and 1830s, who were as guilty of "yellow journalism" as Mackenzie.

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Speaking of former mayors, here are the questions to round two of our Jeopardy-style quiz:

1) Who was Robert John Fleming? The street's name derived from his initials ("R.J."). His son owned land in the area when the street was developed, and requested that it be named after his father, who served as mayor from 1892 to 1893, and from 1896 to 1897. Read fellow Historicist writer Kevin Plummer's take on Fleming.

2) Who was Thomas Foster? One of our stingiest mayors during his term from 1925 to 1927, but he was more than happy to blow his money on a massive memorial to himself. In the end, he proved he had a philanthropic spirit via the odd bequests made through his will.

3) Who was William Dennison?  I've written about his speech therapy school - during his tenure as mayor (1966 to 1972) he continued to attend seminars on the subject.

4) Who were Sam McBride (died 1935) and Donald Summerville (died 1963)? We came close in 1837 - the first candidate for the mayoralty that year, Simon Washburn, died shortly before the rebellion (George Gurnett was named during the second vote that January). I wrote an article on the memorial services held at (Old) City Hall for both mayors.

5) Who was Horatio Hocken? The former printer served as mayor from 1912 to 1914.

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