Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Floral Suburb

Saturday was a good day, as I had a local history goldmine open up for me. I'll spare you the details, but this gem was one of the first things I came across. I copied this from a handwritten transcription, so there may be errors. I'll let the piece speak for itself, shall I?

Toronto Daily Mail, May 19, 1879

Parkdale's Progress: A Busy Day in the "Floral Suburb"
A tree-planting bee - a procession, music and speeches

Saturday was a gala day in Parkdale. For the information of the people of Canada who are not versed in topography, and who do not know the situation of Parkdale, it may be said that it is a village of very aristocratic pretensions, suburban to Toronto, on the western side. It writes the number of its population in four figures, rejoices in railway communication east, west and north, and steamboat communication on the south, calls all its streets avenues, and points proudly to the fact that land in that delightful locality has increased, within the past few years, from $75 to $800 and $1,000 an acre.

Parkdale, though young, lives for herself. Toronto sought, on diverse occasions, with entreaties and threats to become possessed of her, but she turned coldly from the blandishments of her too experienced lover, whose perfidy is proverbial, and, gathering her spotless skirts closer about her, drew further away from the proposed new housekeeping arrangements which would involve higher water rates, higher gas rates and an uncomfortable burden of taxes.

Adopting the maxim that "A virtuous mind in a fair body is like a fine picture in a good light," she became austere, proud and chaste. Ostracized the saloon keepers, frowned on negro minstrels, erected several churches, established a pound, built a school house, decorated her dead walls with placards of church meetings, tea-parties, temperance socials, sacred concerts and theological lectures, and became pious in good style. There is no lock-up, one not being required in such a moral community, and the only constable is employed to arrest dogs having no homes or visible means of support, vagabond geese or ducks, wayward cows or truant hogs that presume to desert their lairs in the unhallowed city and invade the sacred precincts of the village.

Parkdalians are proud of their village, and they have reason to be so. Prettily situated on the high land of the lake shore, a fine view of lake and island may be had, and on clear days the far-away blue hills of Niagara are plainly discernible. The principal avenues run down to the water, and in many of them, young as the place is, are charming residences, as stylish, as handsome, and as substantial as any in the city. The selectmen of the village in Council assembled decided to adopt the frontage tax system for local improvement purposes, and the streets, or rather avenues, are to be boulevarded and block paved. A company has offered to establish gas works and supply gas for street lighting and domestic purposes at $1.50 per thousand feet, which is $1 cheaper than in the city. A breakwater is being constructed on the lake shore front of the village to prevent the washing away of the banks, and a wharf is to be constructed for steamboats to stop at. A suburban train service has been established, four trains a day being run over the Northern and Great Western railways between the city and Parkdale and Mimico.

Some time ago, a village improvement society, having for its objective the beautifying of the village by the planting of trees and flowers, was formed, and on Saturday the first tree-planting bee was held. Work commenced early in the morning, and continued until two o'clock, when a procession of villagers took place through the principal avenues. By permission of Major Grey (Reeve of Parkdale), and the officers of the Toronto Field Battery, the band of the Battery was present, under the leadership of Mr. B. F> Cheesbro. When the procession arrived at the school house, the band played the 100th psalm, the audience singing, after which prayer was said by the Rev. J. F. Ockley, of the Parkdale Methodist Church. At the conclusion of the prayer, Madame Stuttaford planted the first tree in the school yard. A strong force of villagers, under the direction of Mr. J. M. Wingfield, Mr. J. Davis and Mr. William Fahey, then set to work "with vigour", as the programme said, and during the afternoon planted about six hundred trees. At half-past four the band gave a concert in the grounds of the late Rev. George Maynard. Speeches were made by Major Grey, Mayor Beaty, Mr. N. Dickey, Mr. W. T. Mackenzie and others, in the course of which Parkdale was alluded to as the "floral suburb". After an exciting day, the villagers sought their homes and rest about seven o'clock.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

copied - as in you laboriously hand-copied that hand-written transcription?????

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


the sooner you get zig-zagging, the better - not that handwritten transcriptions aren't an admirable feat - not to mention a dying art!

10:22 AM  

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