Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Painting: Toronto When It Was Ten Days Old

Toronto Harbour, 1793
When John Graves Simcoe (the Lieutenant Governor who founded Toronto) sailed into our harbour in 1793, he brought his family with him. And it's a good thing he did: his wife, Elizabeth, kept track of her experiences by writing a diary and painting watercolours, both of which you come across over and over and over again whenever you start looking into the first few years of Toronto's history.

Here, because I think it's neat, is one of those paintings. According to the book I'm reading at the moment, it shows the shoreline just ten days after Simcoe's men had started construction on Toronto's very first buildings: the military installations at Fort York. You can see their camp and the beginnings of the fort right there near the middle of the painting, all white and tiny and at the water's edge. Back then, Fort York was at the spot where Garrison Creek met the lake, surrounded by the lush, ancient forest which had stood there for about 7,000 years. Now, of course, the creek has been buried and a lot of the lake has been filled in with land, so these days you'll find those same buildings on the west side of Bathurst between Front and Lakeshore Drive, surrounded by the constant roar of the railway tracks and the Gardiner Expressway.

In the painting you can also see the masts of the ships that had brought the men there, but I don't really have anything interesting to say about them at the moment.


  1. I read this nice article this is so informative blog. I like this nice painting story. Thanks share this good think.

  2. Hey this is great historical info. Imagine if those houses were never built, and Toronto painters would have no houses for painting! Tragic!

  3. Boy I hope that first person was ESL, otherwise we're in big trouble.


  4. The toronot harbour is way different these days. Thanks for sharing

  5. This is good site to spent time on .I just stumbled upon your informative blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your very well written blog posts. I will be your frequent visitor, that's for sure.

    Toronto Kitchen Cabinet Painting