Why, Toronto, you don't look a day over 174...
For its 175th birthday, the Big Smoke plans to party like it's 1834
Last Updated: Friday, March 6, 2009 | 11:58 AM ET
The Big Smoke dusted off its party coat on Friday to kick off festivities celebrating Toronto's 175th birthday amid double-digit temperatures.
A Toronto Railway Co. horse-drawn streetcar carries passengers in this 1890 photograph looking north along Yonge Street from Queen Street. (Canadian Press) City hall is opening its doors to the public in honour of the occasion, while a number of outdoor concerts and events are planned for Friday and the weekend.
Mayor David Miller arrived at Nathan Phillips Square in a historic streetcar on Friday morning, while officials with the square's skating rink insisted the 3 p.m. skate would go on despite the warm weather, the CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp reported.
CBC Radio's Matt Galloway will be broadcasting live from the square from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for Here and Now.
On Friday evening, Miller will participate in a mock debate with actor Eric Peterson, who will portray the city's first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie.
Inside St. Lawrence Market, a team of costumed re-enactors will take visitors back to the era of the city's inception through a series of stories, songs and dancing.
The City of Toronto was incorporated on March 6, 1834, with most of the city's 9,000 residents living south of Queen Street, which was considered its northern boundary. It has since grown into Canada's largest city with a population of more than 2.4 million people, according to the 2006 national census.
More than 100 languages are spoken on the city's streets, according to the latest census, while 47 per cent of Toronto's population, or 1,162,635 people, considered themselves part of a visible minority.
But back in 1834, "Toronto the Good" was still a hinterland where public executions were a common sight for the city's predominantly white, British and Protestant inhabitants, local historian Bruce Bell said.
"You could not sing Yankee Doodle Dandy in the public square," Bell said Friday. "It was a hangable offence."
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