Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Google Just Mapped Toronto's History in Photos

It looks like the good people at Sidewalk Labs are trying to familiarize themselves with Toronto before building their own "futuristic mini-city" inside of it.

Good for them, I say! And even better for us.

This open-source, open-data, "Old Toronto" version of Google Maps (OldTO, as they're calling it) is absolutely incredible.

OldTO Google MapReleased today by the Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs, OldTO maps more than 30,000 historic photographs from the City of Toronto Archives onto our current street network.

This means that anyone can search and explore images of the city's history, based on its geography, thanks to the power of geocoding.

It's easy to use, totally free and very, very dangerous to the productivity of office workers.
 OldTO Google Map
"As we think about the kinds of digital tools that help people develop, navigate, and maintain neighbourhoods and cities, the ability to organize information geographically and by time comes up again and again as a critical requirement," reads a blog post from Sidewalk Labs explaining the project.

"Old Toronto relies on some of the same technologies that can support a future neighborhood, and as we continue to build new prototypes, we will use them to explore the digital infrastructure needed for more substantial applications."

OldTO Google MapRight now, clicking on a photo will show any information contained in the description of the archival holding, such as the date, title, condition and copyright restrictions. 
The photos sourced for this project were taken all over the GTA, well beyond the 12-acre section of Toronto's eastern waterfront that Sidewalk Labs will be moving into.

Here is Lady Eaton and some friends at a garden party in King City circa 1930, for instance.

OldTO Google MapHere's a "coal & coke" shop near Woodbine Avenue and Gerard Street East in 1938.

OldTO Google MapAnd here are the (seemingly reluctant) first place winners of the "Danforth Baby Show" near Pape and Cosburn in August of 1930.

OldTO Google Map 
Engineers say they're exploring additional features to add to the tool, including an aerial button that will "enable people to see how the city has changed from a bird's-eye view."
They're also releasing the data in JSON format and encouraging software developers to go nuts and create their own features.

"We suspect there are many creative uses of this data that we haven’t thought of, and people will only come up with them when the data is easily available," reads the post.

"We're also in the process of preparing OldTO for release as an open-source tool, so local urban-tech enthusiasts or civic hackers can build on top of it."

Over time, the company plans to add even more images from both the city archives and other sources.
The blog post notes that the city archive alone holds more than 1.7 million photographs dating all the way back to 1856.

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Toronto Ranked 16th Most Livable City In the World in 2018

Lots of white, Christian countries in the top 20, big surprise. 
For the second year in a row, Toronto is celebrating its sweet 16th place status on Mercer's annual Quality of Living Ranking.

Mercer, a massive research and consulting firm based in New York City, released its 20th annual version of the well-regarded ranking on Tuesday.

The firm spoke to "Canada's continued strong performance" in 2018 when releasing the data, noting that four Canadian cities had placed in the top 25 and that "recreational cannabis is expected to come into effect nationwide" this year.

Mercer Ranking 2018
At fifth place, Vancouver came out on top for Canadian cities, while Toronto tied with Melbourne, Australia (again) at spot 16.

Ottawa wasn't too far behind, sharing 19th place with Hamburg, Germany. Montreal just missed out on making the top 20 by tying with Perth, Austrailia, for spot number 21.

Here are the top 25 cities in this year's Mercer ranking, in case you're just dying to know more:
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Auckland, New Zealand / Munich, Germany 
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Dusseldorf, Germany
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Basel, Switzerland / Sydney, Australia
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Melbourne, Australia / Toronto, Canada 
  • Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Ottawa, Canada / Hamburg, Germany
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Toronto Students Get Cheaper TTC Passes

The TTC Board has given its blessing to the creation of a steeply-discounted transit pass for college and university students in Toronto.

Now, all that stands between students and their long-fought-for Universal Pass (U-Pass) are the academic institutions themselves.

If – and only if – the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD University and George Brown College collectively agree to a four-year term, people who attend these schools full-time will pay just $70 a month for unlimited access to subways, streetcars and buses.

That's less than half the price of a regular adult monthly pass, and significantly cheaper than the current post-secondary rate of $116.75 – but it's also a mandatory expense.

The $280 cost of this pass ($70 a month, based on 4 months per semester) would be added automatically to an individual's regular student fees each semester.

People who live on or near campus may not benefit from the program as much as those who commute using transit every day. Still, support for the program is relatively strong among post-secondary students.

Student unions from the four schools mentioned above formed a committee to advocate for the pass late last year, telling TTC officials that 95 per cent of approximately 16,000 students who voted in an online survey were in favour of a discount pass.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said on Twitter yesterday that the first of several school referendums would take place next week at U of T.

The transit agency's full U-Pass policy framework details how and when the passes will be rolled out, should everything go as planned.

Students would need to carry "appropriate TTC Post-Secondary Photo ID" with them to get the discount, for instance.

Nobody would be able to opt-out of the pass unless it imposes a burden related to personal circumstances protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The U-Pass would be only issued by schools, to their own students, on PRESTO cards, to prevent fraud, and be available during all three semesters.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Toronto 31-year-old man in hospital after shooting at 7 West Cafe near Yonge and Charles Sts

A 31-year-old man has been hospitalized after an early-morning shooting just south of Yonge and Bloor on Monday.

Emergency services were called at around 4:30 a.m. to 7 West Cafe, a 24-hour restaurant on Charles St., according to Toronto Paramedic Services. They were originally called for a report of a fight.

The victim was found nearby, but it isn’t clear whether he was inside or outside the restaurant when the shooting took place. He was taken to hospital in serious condition, paramedics said, but is expected to survive.

Charles St. remains blocked off for a police investigation.

No information is yet available on a suspect.
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City of Toronto: $1.42-billion gap in the operating budget is just five years away prompting the city manager to say council must do one three things: cut services, maintain the status quo with modest increases, or raise big revenue to engage in city building

Mayor John Tory’s executive committee has ignored pleas to bring a key report on the city’s long-term financial future before council.

The long-awaited report from outgoing City Manager Peter Wallace explains the pitfalls ahead — including a $1.42-billion gap in the operating budget in just five years — and a partial roadmap for the way out.

After it was delayed by a year, the report was presented to executive committee with a recommendation that the new city manager come back with an actionable vision.

But despite members of the public and outside councillors asking it be considered by council as a whole — and promises from staff in December 2016 that it would be considered by council “well in advance of 2018 budget decisions” — executive committee members voted to support a motion from Tory that will see staff returning with a plan in 2019.

It is unlikely an implementation plan would have any impact before a 2020 budget, when the operating gap is expected to grow to $730 million. By law, the city must approve a balanced budget. Council can also not direct action in a new term, so the future of that plan is unclear.

“I do think this report should be forwarded to the governing body of this corporation. It contains, yet again, another analysis of the fiscal frailty of this city,” said Councillor Janet Davis, who said she asked members of the executive to support sending the item to council, but none agreed.

“I feel insulted, frankly, after four years in this term of council, that I have not been given the obligation to engage in this report and to have my community know how I stand on these very items before an election,” she said.

The municipal election is set for Oct. 22.

The item was discussed in the Scarborough Civic Centre’s council chamber on Monday. It was the first time the executive meeting has been moved from city hall in at least a decade, according to a review of public meeting minutes.

The sunken chamber was host to senior staff from several divisions who had made the trip to answer questions. Technical staff rigged up live-streaming equipment in the room. Someone brought coffee for a reception with the mayor.

During a presentation, Wallace outlined the challenges ahead without new revenue from taxes, fees or asset sales — making it difficult for council “to deliver on the vision” of plans approved to combat climate change, poverty and build out the city’s transit network.

He presented three possible futures: Cutting services to deal with a lack of revenue; maintaining the status quo with a “modest” increase in revenue, or engage in broader city building by raising substantial revenues.

The city needs $900 million over the next five years just to maintain existing service levels — to keep buses coming as often as they do now, maintain roads at the existing pace and keep libraries open at the current hours. That money would not allow for any expansion or new programs.

In the first hypothetical scenario, council would need to cut $900 million over five years to reduce the city’s financial footprint. In the last scenario — which includes doing the things council promised or has already committed to but not funded — they would need to raise over $1 billion over the next five years.

“This is not intended to be a panacea,” Wallace told executive members about his report generally.

This was Wallace’s last executive meeting after he was tapped by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to become secretary of the Treasury Board.

About 10 members of the public who spoke on the item agreed the report should be up for debate at council.

Tory said it should be up to the next term of council to decide how to move forward, noting there are no recommendations for council to decide on now.

“This is a report that is, I think, intended to be a framework as opposed to a prescriptive set of measures that are meant to be taken forward for approval or not,” he said. “The last thing I think we need to do is actually to approve some sort of a plan that isn’t really a plan at the moment and then have council turn around and change it or reverse it.”

Budget chief Councillor Gary Crawford, in his speech, concluded: “We are in pretty good financial shape.”

For the last three years, Wallace has said council has put many important decisions off to a future date, relies too heavily on a hot housing market and faces a growing operating gap in just five years.
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Toronto Councillor Justin Di Ciano has challenged a city council decision to create 47 wards. Di Ciano prefers a 25-ward structure, which follows federal electoral districts.

The fate of how Toronto’s 2018 election will be run rests in the hands of Superior Court Justice Katherine Swinton.

On Friday, in a sunlit courtroom on the second floor of Osgoode Hall just steps away from city hall, the judge heard arguments about whether the court should consider an appeal of the city’s new ward boundary structure.

In what may be an unprecedented move, the case contesting a city council decision, which was confirmed by a provincial tribunal, was brought by a sitting city councillor and a local resident.

A decision will be given at a later date.

Swinton’s judgment will be pivotal to how the municipal election on Oct. 22 will be run.

But there are pressing timelines. The nomination period for candidates to sign up and run for a council seat opens May 1 — just two months from now.

The city approved a 47-ward structure recommended by independent consultants in 2016, which would increase the number of councillors by three. That decision was affirmed by the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincial tribunal that has the final say in land-use disputes, in December. That came just before a deadline to have those ward boundaries take effect for the 2018 election.

There are now two issues that have been raised in court: Firstly, whether the court should hear an appeal of the OMB decision, and secondly, how the 2018 election should be run.

The legal team for Councillor Justin Di Ciano, who represents Ward 5 (Etobicoke Lakeshore) and Tony Natale, a real estate broker who lives in the Davenport area, argued Friday the OMB erred in its decision.

An appeal can only be heard on the basis that there has been a specific error in law.

The city’s lawyers argued that was not the case and that leave to appeal should not be granted by the court. They also argued the OMB’s decision was not appealable to the court at all.

Lawyer Bruce Engell, representing Di Ciano and Natale, also argued that the city failed to pass a bylaw confirming the number of councillors on council, which he says creates a “legal vacuum” where 47 wards could be in place but only 44 councillors elected. Toronto council is currently made up of 44 councillors and the mayor.

City lawyer Glenn Chu responded saying a bylaw confirming one councillor be elected per ward has already been passed. The city has asked the court to confirm how the election should be run: With 47 ward seats up for grabs.

None of those issues have been decided.

Di Ciano and Natale argue that a 25-ward structure, which follows federal electoral districts, is superior to the council-approved 47-ward structure.

The OMB earlier agreed with the city’s position that there were no “clear and compelling reasons” to overturn the council-approved 47-ward option.

Those arguments were rehashed in court on Friday.

“There’s no reason to doubt its correctness or reasonableness,” city lawyer Brendan O’Callaghan said of the OMB’s decision.

The 47-ward structure would see the area where Di Ciano’s family home is located cut out of the ward he currently represents. On Friday, he said that did not factor into his decision to appeal the decision. He said he believes the 47-ward option was based on a flawed methodology.

A candidate does not have to live in the ward they wish to represent, they only have to be a resident of the city. Di Ciano won with 54 per cent of the vote in 2014.
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

OKC Thunder vs Toronto Raptors - Full Game Highlights | March 18, 2018

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Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs – Mar. 17, 2018 | Game Highlights

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Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC March 17, 2018 Highlights

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Toronto 2 dead in shooting at Playtime Bowling, Toronto Police say 1 was innocent bystander

Toronto police have identified a man and a woman fatally shot at a North York bowling alley on Saturday night.

Thanh Tien Ngo, 32, and Ruma Amar, 29, were shot at the entrance to Playtime Bowl and Entertainment, 33 Samor Rd., near Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West in north Toronto after 10 p.m., Det. Rob Choe said on Sunday.

Ngo was targeted by two gunman, Amar was not, he said. Ngo was pronounced dead at the scene while Amar died of her injuries in hospital later.

The shooting caused a "frenzy" inside the bowling alley. The gunmen pursued Ngo and one nearly entered the business.

Amar, at the bowling alley with her husband and sister, was caught in the crossfire as she was leaving the premises, he said.

Police are seeking three suspects, two of whom are believed to be armed with handguns. Choe said police believe there were two gunman and one getaway driver. All three were seen fleeing the scene in a dark vehicle westbound from the scene.

Bullets shattered the front glass doors of the business.

When officers arrived on the scene, they said they found the victims lying on the ground outside the bowling alley.

Both were suffering from gunshot wounds.

Ngo did not have vital signs. He was not conscious and not breathing.

Ngo was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Dave Viljakainen, deputy commander for Toronto Paramedic Services.

Amar was rushed to a Toronto trauma centre, where she later died of her injuries.

Next of kin has been notified.

Earlier, Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said several people were at the bowling alley at the time of the killings and they scattered after the shooting.

"There were several people in the area. I would imagine just customers of the bowling alley. People were fleeing out of concern for their own safety," she said.

Autopsies to be performed on the bodies

No weapons were found at the scene.

Police said autopsies on the bodies will be performed on Sunday.

Ngo and Amar are Toronto's 13th and 14th homicide victims of the year.

Officers taped off the bowling alley and the area around it after the shooting to allow investigators to collect evidence.

The bowling alley is closed but roads in the area remain open.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at, or text TOR and a message to CRIMES (274637). 
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Saturday, March 17, 2018

History of the Toronto Police, Part 3 (1859-1875)

History of the Toronto Police, Part 3 (1859-1875)
The Militarization of the Constables

When Toronto City Council had finally admitted to the failings of the Toronto Police several years earlier in 1855, it found that one of the principal problems was the ability and experience of the Chief of Police Samuel Sherwood:

The Committee are not aware that any change or want of zeal or activity in the discharge of his duties (so far as he acquainted with it) has ever been established against the Chief of Police but there can be no doubt that he has not that authority over his men or that degree of experience which is absolutely essential to enable him to enforce a proper system of order and discipline.[1]
The City’s committee on the Circus Riot had recommended in 1855 that the London Police be approached for a candidate from that force to take charge in Toronto.   But when it came to hire a Chief for the new force in 1859, Toronto instead chose a military officer and not an experience police officer from the London Police.  The new Police Chief was William Stratton Prince, a former Captain of the 71st Highland Light Infantry. There is a remarkable paucity of biographical detail on Prince and detail on how his candidacy and appointment unfolded.  His regimental history, however, hints at the qualifications that Prince brought to the job.
The 71st Highland Light Infantry was first formed in Glasgow in 1758 and was for the next century one of Britain’s most battle hardened regiments.  It fought in America during the War of Independence. The regiment served under Lord Cornwallis in the Carolinas and Virginia, and was included in the surrender at Yorktown, 17th October, 1781; 1782-83 it fought in Southern India; Fought at Conjeveram, Porto Novo, Sholinghur, Vellore, Cuddalore, and Arcot;  1790-1 campaigns against Tippoo Sahib, siege of Pondicherry,  Bangalore, Seringapatam; 1805-06 assault landing at the Cape of Good Hope and the battle of Blauberg;  1806-07 assault and capture of Buenos Aires;  1808-09 First Peninsular Campaigns; 1809 Walcharen Expedition; 1810-14 Second Peninsular Campaigns; 1815 at Waterloo took part in breaking the last charge of Napoleon’s Old Guard;  Army of Occupation, France 1815-17 : England and Ireland 1818-23 : Canada 1824-30 : Bermuda 1831-33 : Scotland and Ireland 1834-37: Canada, suppressing rebellion and preventing American infiltration attempts 1838-42 : West Indies 1843-46 : England, Scotland and Ireland 1847-52 : Corfu 1853-54.[2]

William Stratton Prince was the son of Colonel John Prince, who commanded the forces engaging the rebels at Windsor in 1838, where he summarily shot rebel prisoners captured there.[3] If Toronto was more concerned about rebellion and disorder than crime fighting, then certainly they had a new Police Chief with rebel-fighting both in his blood and his regimental history. (See more on William Stratton Prince on the next page.)

It appears that upon closer consideration, London was not an appropriate model for the Toronto Board of Police Commissioner’s plans for the Toronto Police.  London’s problems and size in 1859 were not comparable to the situation in which Toronto was developing.   US police forces were more appropriate to the task, and several were studied, including those in New York, Boston, Albany, and Portland, from which Boston was finally chosen as the best example applicable to Toronto for the systemic regulations of police patrols.[4] The Police Commissioners reported,  “Those of the Boston system seems the most applicable to the city of Toronto, and that system has the reputation of being the best and most effective of all the cities in the States.”[5]

The number of constables was fixed at sixty, being “something under one policeman to each 800 inhabitants, which, as compared with populations, is a less number of policement [sic] to a given population than the average number in the cities of the United States to which a reference has been made, while in the city of London, England, there are 6000 policemen in a population of 2 million, being one police man to every 333 inhabitants.”[6] The Commissioners, “found, whenever there is a mixed population and a good deal of intercourse by travel, that one policeman to about eight hundred of the population is thought to be necessary.”[7]

The Board also reported,  “In the opinion of the Commissioners no division of labour which provides less than three changes or reliefs in every 24 hours can be accomplished without greatly endangering the efficiency as well as the health and life of the police forces.”[8] Toronto finally had a municipal night watch.

It was decided to dismiss the entire police force: “The Commissioners resolved as a first, and the least invidious step, to dissolve the existing force altogether, and to appoint or re-appoint to the new force such persons only as after a close examination should prove qualified to discharge the police duties, giving the preference in anything like equal qualifications to the members of the old force.”[9]
As previously pointed out, only half of the old Toronto Police Force were rehired and most were post-Circus Riot recruits, hired under Toronto’s unilateral board of commissioner “experiment” of 1857-58 prior to the Province’s amendment of the Municipality Act.[10] Fifty-eight constables were actually hired, of which 5 were Presbyterian, 8 Roman Catholic including one of the three Sergeant-Majors, while the remaining 45 were Anglican Episcopalians. At least forty-two constables were Irish, but the nominal and descriptive roll is illegible in portions and a final tally is difficult to determine. (The slightly modified force of the following year shows forty-four Irish constables in a force of 56.)[11] Eight had served in the military, while 19 served on other British police forces, the majority in the Irish Constabulary.[12] The propensity was to hire constable from outside the community of Toronto.


This distancing of Toronto police officers from the inhabitants of the city characterized the new constabulary from the first order issued by the new Chief of Police on February 10, 1859:
No. 1   Police when on their Beat are on no account to loiter or enter into conversation with passengers in the streets.  Should any one address them by asking a question with regards to the locality of any place they will give what information they may have in their power as short as possible, and resume their patrol.

Subsequent orders further delineated the distance Toronto Police officers were to keep from the citizenry:
The men of the Force are given to understand that they are not permitted to lodge at hotels on any account whatever.  Constables must have their own private lodgings and on no account be seen lounging and talking about bar rooms and public houses.[14]

It will be the duty of the non-commissioned officer to see that their men reside at the houses of respectable parties.  New appointments will also report personally to the Chief the name of the parties they board with and the street and number of the house.  The Force are again reminded that residence in saloons and public houses will not be permitted.[15]

The Chief exerted strict control over virtually every aspect of the police officer’s lives.  Unmarried officers were housed in special barracks and those wanting to marry, had to get approval from the Chief to do so and for their subsequent place of residence which was restricted to “respectable areas” of the city.[16] Even how officers ate, was a matter of concern for Chief Prince:

The Chief Constable requests the Constables on taking their meals will be respectfully dressed or, he will issue an order to enforce it, he trusts that the majority of the constables out of respect for themselves and what is due to the respectability of the Force, will report to the Chief Constable any constable guilty of an act of gross indecency of this kind, as sitting down with his coat off as conduct of this kind is nothing more or less than a disgrace to the force and will be treated as such.[17]

The constables did not take Chief Prince’s military discipline lightly, even though many had previous military experience.  In 1872 Prince introduced ‘beat cards’ which scheduled minute by minute where constables were to be on their beat.  The Toronto Police officers threatened to go on strike if Prince and two sergeants did not resign and the ‘beat card’ system was not abandoned.  The Board of Commissioners responded by firing the entire force, and when defeated constables began to trickle in requesting their jobs back, sixteen of them were not rehired.[18] In an era when organized labour strikes were rare, it is remarkable to see the Toronto Police among those attempting to take labour action.  (The Toronto Police would strike again in 1918.)
Along with their desirable character traits, Toronto’s constables were assigned a social class category.  The Toronto police officer, in the estimation of Chief William Prince:
Should be in the prime of manhood, mentally and bodily; shrewd, intelligent and possessed of a good English education; trustworthy, truthful, and of a general good character, in order to command a moral as well as an official influence over those among whom he may be required to act, and subject to the most rigid discipline; he should, in fact, be a man above the class of labourers and equal, if not superior, to the most responsible class of journeymen mechanics.[19]
The Toronto Police were thoroughly imbued with military discipline:

The position of “attention” that position which the officers and constables will present at all times in addressing the Bench, and in giving evidence and indeed at all times on being questioned on points of duty, is as follows:  The heels must be in a line and closed — the knees straight — the toes turned out so that the feet may form an angle of 60 degrees — the arms hanging straight down for the shoulders — the elbows turned in and close to the sides — the thumb kept close to the forefinger — the Head to be bent and in giving evidence the body, arms and hands to be perfectly steady — in fact —  exactly the same position as a soldier in the Ranks or parade addressing his Officer.[20]

Individually Toronto Police officers were expected to perform their duties with moderation in their use of force:

In the arrest of criminals and disorderly characters, drunkards, especially the latter, men are cautioned against the unnecessary use of the baton when persuasion and a little patience on the part of the policeman would suppress all violence on the part of those arrested.[21]

This was strictly enforced when a constable was suspended for giving a prostitute on his beat a kick:
P.C. Taylor was suspended and brought before the commissioners of police to answer to a complaint preferred against him for having wantonly used violence to a woman of bad character in Church Street by giving her a kick.  The commissioners find the complaint is correct and caution the said constable to be more careful for the future.  Violence is not on any account to be used except in self defense or in prisoners resisting – and it is absurd to a degree that constables should loose all control over their tempers on being abused by a drunken woman.  Constables are supposed to be above caring for abuse from persons of that description.[22]

While Toronto Police officers were urged towards moderating the use of force in the performance of their individual duties, they were drilled incessantly in the use of highly lethal collective force.  Drill took place three times a week[23] and infantry manuals were distributed to the Sergeant Majors who were expected to drill the constables in battlefield maneuvers.[24] The nature of these drills are vividly outlined in this extract of Chief Prince’s complex orders for the procedure of clearing streets by the use of highly concentrated and coordinated rifle fire:

The following is the order in which street firing is conducted, and in order that men should have a theoretical knowledge of the same as well as practical, the following is a description of the drill with regard to clearing streets. 

The company being in column of subdivisions — the commander of the leading subdivision will give the word, “Right (or left) Subdivision”  “Ready”  “Present”  “Shoulder Arms”  “Four Deep” and remain steady.  The commander of the rear subdivision at the same time giving the following words of command  “Rear Subdivision”  “Four Deep”  “by the left, Quick March.”  The subdivision will then advance passing through the opening of fours of the Front subdivision and when advanced 20 paces will halt.  The commander of the right subdivision will immediately on the left passing through it, give the word of command, “Front”  “Load” then “Shoulder Arms”  “by the left, Quick March” whilst the commander of the then leading subdivision immediately on the rear one receiving the word Quick March, will give the word of command, “left Subdivision”   “Ready”  “present”  “Shoulder Arms”  “Four deep” — and the right subdivision forming four deep advancing, will proceed through the left halting at 20 paces in front, the rear subdivision at the same time loading as before directed, and thus the subdivisions will advance and fire alternately.[25]

For new reformed Toronto Police in the 1860s, proactive crime fighting was less on the agenda then the preparedness for meeting mass hostile threats emanating from within the city.  Where the threat was perceived to come from has already been described above.

Under its next Police Chief, Frank Draper (1874), a lawyer and captain in Toronto’s Queen’s York Rangers Regiment, the Toronto Police would later pride itself in their refinement of infantry tactics for use in urban street fighting, where fewer words of command were needed to deploy the constables:
The street skirmishing drill, prepared specially also for the Toronto Police Force, is peculiarly a Police drill.  The expeditious movement of sections or small detachments in close or extended order from point to point with the fewest possible words of command is the object sought to be attained.  A section or any portion of a company can be extended or moved to cover a given point almost instantaneously on a single word of command, and as readily reformed, without any regard to the position occupied by the front or rear ranks.  All movements are executed on the double, and have been studied out with a view to a more speedy and effectual suppression or riots and street disturbances.[26]
At least on two occasions the Toronto police were used as a military expeditionary force.  In February 1883 when there was a threat to dynamite the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the Toronto Police secured Parliament Square and Government House until May.  Two years later in October 1884, the Toronto Police traveled by rail to fight illicit liquor gangs who seized the railway line at Michipocoten on the north shore of Lake Superior. [27]

Nonetheless, despite the constant drilling, Toronto Police never came to use the massive firepower it had available to deploy.  Probably the seminal event in Toronto’s Police history, both for its reservation in using mass force and for its relationship to the Irish Catholic populace, is the Procession Rioting of 1875.

As it was noted above, the newly reformed Toronto Police remained predominantly Irish Protestant.  The issue of the Orange Order membership in the Police was not immediately resolved.  The Police Commissioners originally ruled in 1859 that no member of a secret society might join the force. Pressured publicly by the Orange Order, City Council attempted to overturn the ruling but failed by one vote.[28] The next year when the Tories returned to dominate City Council the vote was taken again and passed, but the Board of Police Commissioners insisted that City Council had no authority to rescind the Board’s regulations, and the order stood and was formally incorporated into the Toronto Police Regulations.[29]

Orange Order Parade proceeding east on King Street (circa 1870)
This photo can be dated by the absence of the spire on St. James Cathedral
visible in the distance.  The spire would not be added until 1875, while the camera’s ability to
freeze motion in a short exposure time dates the photo to no earlier than the late 1860s.

While the Irish Catholic population was already singled out as a threat within the city by virtue of their home history, poverty, ethnicity, and unskilled labour status, the Fenian Raids and D’Arcy McGee’s assassination in Ottawa, further cast aspersions on the Irish Catholics and positioned them as targets of police attention.  The mostly Protestant Toronto constables were often accused of acting with prejudicial hostility towards Irish Catholics.   But in 1875 during huge Catholic processions in Toronto which came under attack by armed Orange mobs, the Toronto Police distinguished themselves not only in their defense of the Catholics, but also for the coolness in the face of the mobs.  Despite numerous handgun shots and thrown rocks, the police did not return fire and several constables sustained injuries protecting the Catholic procession.[30] The archdioceses conducted a large cash collection on behalf of the constables in gratitude, and the issue of systemic Toronto Police hostility towards Irish Catholics was put to rest that year.[31] When in 1878, American Fenian O’Donovan Rossa visited Toronto to speak at St. Patrick’s Hall, Toronto Police efficiently and coolly protected him from angry Orange mobs.[32] In the future, the potential military might of the Toronto Police was increasingly directed towards threats from labour unions, as it was against workers during the Street Railway Company Strike in 1886.

While Orange vs. Green clashes in the streets diminished, the Toronto Police were still not about to be deployed as the proactive anti-crime force we associate with municipal policing today.

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History of the Toronto Police Part 2 (1850-1859)

History of the Toronto Police PART 2
The Gangs of Toronto and the Call For Reform

Downtown Toronto 1857 — Looking North Up York Street from King to Osgood Hall at Queen Street

The political dynamics of Toronto of the 1850s were radically different from those of the 1830s. The old Family Compact-Tory-Reform issues had faded in the 1840s, despite the occasional flare-ups like the Rebellion Losses Bill riots. Mackenzie, once a fugitive from the hangman, had returned to Toronto and lived out the rest of his life in relatively docile retirement on Bond Street. Change in Toronto began to take a form beyond the context of municipal partisan politics.

Toronto essentially remained a large trading village until 1850. But with British abandonment of colonial trade protection policies and the collapse of the imperial trading route through Montreal and the St. Lawrence, Toronto found itself looking towards the Erie Canal and New York. In 1853 the first railroad in Toronto went into service. By 1856 there were three railways and Toronto was connected to the US networks. The mere existence of the railways lead to a huge manufacturing industry for rails, railway stock and engines, apart from the rise of factories manufacturing goods to put on those trains.[1]

The ethnic balance within Toronto’s mostly British stock was destabilized by the 1850s. The population of Toronto swelled from 23,000 in 1848 to 30,000 by 1850 as a result of mostly Irish Catholic peasant refugees escaping the ongoing famine.[2] The new Irish presence was not warmly welcomed in Toronto. The Reformer George Brown, founding editor of the Globe, did not disguise his contempt for the Irish:

Irish beggars are to be met everywhere, and they are as ignorant and vicious as they are poor. They are lazy, improvident and unthankful; they fill our poorhouses and our prisons, and are as brutish in their superstition as Hindus.[3]

Many arrived in Toronto under the most horrendous circumstances, and Toronto authorities did everything possible that they not remain in the city. Larratt Smith, a rising young city lawyer wrote his relatives back in England about the Irish immigrants in Toronto:

They arrive here to the extent of about 300 to 600 by any steamer. The sick are immediately sent to the hospital which had been given up to them entirely and the healthy are fed and allowed to occupy the Immigrant Sheds for 24 hours; at the expiration of this time, they are obliged to keep moving, their rations are stopped and if they are found begging are imprisoned at once. Means of conveyance are provided by the Corporation to take them off at once to the country, and they are accordingly carried off “willy nilly” some 16 or 20 miles, North, South, East & West and quickly put down, leaving the country to support them by giving them employment…John Gamble advertised for 50 for the Vaughn plank road, and hardly were the placards out, than the Corporation bundled 500 out and set them down…The hospitals contain over 600 and besides the sick and convalescent, we have hundreds of widows and orphans to provide for. [4]

From 1841 to 1848 the percentage of Catholics in Toronto rose from 17 to 25 percent. The new Irish immigrants were a tougher and more volatile people, hardened by the brutal life they experienced in Ireland. They were the source of some of Upper Canada’s first violent labour unrest, rioting on the Welland Canal dig where many were employed at a subsistence wage.[5] Some of the first big mob sectarian clashes in Ontario between the Protestant Orange and Catholic Green unfolded in the Niagara region around the canal construction during the 1840s.[6]
As Toronto began to gradually nudge its way towards industrialization, many of the new Irish immigrants began to settle in the city seeking out unskilled employment. Although these types of statistics are not available for the early 1850s, those nearing the end of the decade and early 1860s give us a glimpse of Irish urbanization. According to a Toronto Catholic Archdiocese census in the early 1860s, forty-five percent of Toronto’s Catholics were unskilled labourers.[7] The Irish, both Catholic and Protestant, also represented 67.3 percent of all arrests in 1858.[8] Irish women, in 1860, corresponded to 84.4 percent of all female arrests, despite the fact that Irish composed a little over 25 percent of Toronto’s total population.[9]

Parallel to this, we begin to see emerging riots and clashes between Orange Protestant and Green Catholic factions increasingly displace the old Reformer vs. Tory brawls. Between 1852 and 1858, six major riots between Protestant and Catholic militants unfolded in Toronto.[10] The city’s Orange-dominated constabulary was of little help in quelling these disorders with any semblance of impartiality.

The 1850s would witness the first union organizing of unskilled workers as well as increasing militancy from skilled trade unions in the face of increasing mechanization and deskilling in manufacturing.[11] In Toronto there were at least fourteen strikes between 1852-1854, a level of labour militancy not to be seen again until the 1870s.[12] The news filtering back to Toronto of riots and revolutions throughout almost all of Europe in 1848, in which monarchies and governments fell, must have made local authorities contemplate the efficiency of the Toronto Police.
The nature of poverty was also beginning to change. Previously impoverished peoples were migratory and seasonal.[13] With industrialization they were now becoming permanently settled in increasingly densely populated quarters of the city like Macaulaytown in Toronto’s St. John’s Ward.[14]

Not only had the nature of the poor changed, but the nature of the wealthy and those in between as well. The rise of industrial manufacturing in Toronto created not only a new wealthy class, but also a larger property-owning middle-class, eligible to vote. The introduction of omnibuses in the late 1840s, and later street railways in 1860, segregated Toronto into neighborhoods by income and inevitably by class. The perceived threat to Toronto’s middle-class property owners was gradually being shifted from that of spontaneous riots, rebellions, and occasional external incursions, to a more permanent and geographically fixed source from within the city, whose identification gradually began to shift from ethnic to one of class; a focus on the threat from “dangerous classes” of unskilled working poor and destitute unemployed.

Toronto was going to need something more than the type of English parish watch it currently had for a Police Force. The conditions in Toronto during the 1850s began to resemble more those of highly urbanized London, England in the 1830s when the London Metropolitan Police was founded. There was a gradually growing middle-class consensus in Toronto that began to place police reform on a higher priority than Toronto’s political autonomy from the Province. This was clearly being felt in the chambers of the Toronto City Council.

In 1850, City Council debated the viability of establishing a nightwatch no less than five times, but postponed any final decision.[15] There is some evidence, that like in Detroit, downtown businesses in Toronto were beginning to finance their own private nightwatch.[16] City Council debated appointing that watch as special constables and paying them a municipal salary.[17]

The need also to extend the constable’s individual powers was evident as City Council called on:
A law to extend the power of Constable in making arrests of parties guilty of breaking the peace on the authority of persons not magistrates who shall give the constables sureties to appear and prosecute the accused parties before the police magistrates.[18]

The City wanted police magistrates to be granted:

Powers to suppress bawdy houses and to register Gambling Houses.

Power to make byelaws [sic] for the purpose of regulating Boarding houses and for the summary punishment of Tavern and Boarding House proprietors who may be guilty of Fraud or imposition on Immigrants or Travellers.

A Law to punish persons for using grossly insulting language calculated to provoke breaches of the peace.[19]

The nature of these desired measures, indicate that there was a broadly based concern with public order.

Individual identification numbers were issued for the first time to be worn by constables on hats and collars.[20] By 1855, the Toronto Police exceeded fifty constables and by 1857 there would be six sergeants as well, supervising the force across the two divisions into which the city was divided.[21]
Rare view of Toronto looking east along King Street from Yonge Street. Circa. 1860 – US Civil War Era.

On the left in the distance one can see the roof of the second St. James Cathedral (1850), which
burned down in 1849 and would not get back its familiar tower and spire until 1874.
Some of the old problems addressed in the 1841 Provincial Commission were still plaguing the Toronto Police. Constables now prohibited from holding liquor licenses, were instead registering them under family member’s or friend’s names.[22]

It would be two riots in the summer of 1855 that would expose the Toronto Police to unanimous condemnation in Toronto and illustrate just how far the new industrial middle-class consensus had replaced the old Orange municipal solidarity in the Toronto City Council as far as it came to the Alderman-appointed constables. Ironically, neither of the two riots—the Firemen’s Riot or the Circus Riot, were sectarian in their causes.

Toronto’s Fire department was composed entirely of volunteers, who combined their firefighting activities with social and club activities—sort of like weekend sports teams.[23] On June 29, 1855, a fire broke out on Church Street, and two different firefighting companies responded. Colliding with each other as they attempted to extinguish the fire, it was not long before the competitive firemen dropped their hoses and began to fight. A squad of Toronto constables swooped down to separate the brawling firefighters, who then together turned on the police officers and gave them a thorough beating. In the heat of the moment, the constables ended up charging the firemen with assault.
Toronto Firemen from Firehall No. 11 at Yorkville Avenue (circa 1880)
Like the police force, most of Toronto’s firefighters, were also members of the Orange Order. When the matter came to trial, the Toronto constables had second thoughts about the charges they laid against their fellow Orangemen, and had to be forced into court to testify against their fellow-Orangemen. Once on the stand, the constables deliberately confused their testimony. Reform newspapers the time, practically howled with indignation. The Globe reported that “it is plainly asserted by those who have access to the best information that during the days which have been allowed to elapse since the fire, a compromise has been effected between the constables and the firemen, who are too much birds of a feather long to differ.”[24] The Examiner denounced the event as “Utterly disgraceful to the administration of civic justice, this case demands the reconstruction of the police force which thus proves itself utterly corrupt.”[25]

Few weeks later on July 13, 1855 both the firemen and police officers, were implicated together in the Toronto Circus Riot. A circus came to town from the USA. That night, clowns from the circus visited a King Street bordello and got into a brawl with some local citizens. The clowns got the upper hand, seriously injuring two Toronto patrons, who were also members of the Hook and Ladder Firefighting Company. The next day, a crowd of rowdy locals gathered at the circus, and attempted to pull the tent down. At first the circus people held off the crowd but soon the Hook and Ladder Company arrived, and with their company wagon, pulled the tent down and the circus was overrun. The clowns escaped, but circus wagons were overturned and set fire to by the firemen. The Toronto police in the meantime stood by and watched without interfering. Only when the Mayor called the army out, was the rioting halted. Again, the Toronto Police came under severe criticism when 17 of the rioters were arraigned in court but not one constable could remember seeing the accused at the scene. The Globe complained, “There are three classes in the city which thoroughly understand one another as hale fellows well met—the innkeeper, the firemen, and the police. These classes are fed by the Orange Lodges.”[26]
Corner of King and Yonge Streets (1868)
On the 17th of March 1858, there was rioting again between Orange and Green factions on the occasion of a St. Patrick’s procession resulting in a stabbing death. This time it was Chief of Police Samuel Sherwood who refused to testify against a fellow Orangeman implicated in the violence.[27] Chief Sherwood further deepened the dissatisfaction with Toronto’s police system when in the October of 1858 he unilaterally released a prisoner accused of bank robbery. Mayor Boulton demanded the resignation of the Chief but City Council refused to support it. Boulton resigned in protest in November.[28]

In the next election, a Reform candidate, Adam Wilson was elected—the first Reformer to be chosen to the Mayor’s office in two decades. In the previous year, George Brown was elected to the Provincial assembly on a Reform ticket as well. The legislative climate was right for the enactment of police reform in Toronto and in 1858, the legislature of Upper Canada enacted the Municipal Institutions of Upper Canada Act, Section 374 of which provided that in each of the five cities in the colony there was to be a Board of Commissioners of Police. Section 379 provided that “The Constables shall obey all the lawful directions, and be subject to the government of the Board…”[29] This section was gradually expanded to include other municipalities in the province and is still today the effective regulatory system for municipal police departments in Ontario.

Historians have broadly painted the enactment of the Municipal Institutions Act as an imposition of a Police Board regulatory system by the Province upon a corrupt Toronto City Council attempting to cling to its power over the city’s police.[30] City Council minutes tell a different story.
In the wake of the Circus Riots a committee of Toronto Aldermen reviewed the conduct of the police. In the twenty previous years of collective misbehavior by Toronto’s constabulary, City Council rarely censured the police constables its Aldermen had nominated and appointed to the force. By 1855 the attitude was much different:

The Committee of Council having carefully considered the whole of the evidence brought before them relating to the conduct of the Police Force at the late disgraceful riot on the Fair Green on the night of the 13th instant are unanimously of opinion:

That the Force did not act on that occasion in a prompt and energetic manner, which might have been expected from any well regulated constabulary but on the contrary displayed an utter [lack] of efficiency and discipline.

The committee are further of opinion that an entire change should at once be made in the organization of the Force…

It must be evident to everyone who had had an opportunity of perusing the evidence that there is at present an entire absence of any system of organization or discipline in the Police…
The committee are decidedly of opinion that the present mode of appointing the Police is highly objectionable and that the power of appointment ought not to continue to be vested in an elective body like the Council.

First, because it is necessarily more or less liable to this abuse that private or political considerations may have more weight in the appointment of the men than their individual fitness for the Office.
Secondly, Because it is hardly possible that any committee of the Council can or will make that vigorous investigation into the previous character and the physical or moral qualifications of the various applicants, which could and would be made by parties independent of popular control and who would be held personally responsible for their choice.

The Committee also most strongly recommend that for the future the power of appointing and dismissing the members of the Police Force should be vested absolutely in the Police Magistrate, the Recorder and the Chief of Police.[31]

In the meantime, the Province in 1856 began to consider legislation for a province-wide police force of 350 constables to be controlled by government-appointed police commissioner and two-thirds paid for by the municipalities to replace the local constabularies.[32] Mackenzie’s Weekly Message warned that the bill was a “new dodge of a Roman Catholic Police from Lower Canada to take the place of our Protestant police.”[33] The bill was abandoned, however, in May after a ministerial crisis and the resignation of Premier Allen MacNab.

City Council in the meanwhile had petitioned at the same time the Provincial Assembly to instead, “Amend the Municipal law (12 Vic Chapter 81 Sec 47) so as to place the appointment and dismissal of all the Police Force of Cities except the Chief Constable in a Board to be composed of the Mayor, Recorder and Police Magistrate.”[34]

The Province finally enacted the necessary amendments in 1858, while Toronto City Council unilaterally made several different attempts at forming a Board of Police Commissioners on its own starting in 1857.[35]

In December 1858, the Provincially sanctioned Toronto Board of Commissioners sat down for the first time and began to make plans as to how to replace the constabulary with a new police force. On February 8, 1859 the entire force from the Chief down to constable was dismissed and a new one took its place the next day. Only twenty-four of the old constables would be rehired on the new force of fifty-one men and seven NCO’s.[36] Toronto’s current police department today traces its regulatory and institutional lineage directly to the 1859 department and regulatory structure governing it.

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History of the Toronto Police, Part 1 (1834-1860)

 “Formidable Engines of Oppression”

In 1834, when Toronto was incorporated officially as a city, most Torontonians lived and worked between the Don River on the east, and Bathurst Street on the west.  The lake was a closer to the city—the shoreline was where the Esplanade is today and Queen Street on the north, was roughly where Toronto ended.  The population of Toronto at its founding was 9,200, and there were 78 licensed taverns, about 1 per every 120 men, women, and children residing in Toronto.[1] In other words, the city had not yet earned its reputation as the puritan and sober, “Toronto the Good.”

King Street looking West from Jarvis circa 1845 — oil painting by John Gillespie
Although Toronto was ostensibly racially homogeneous, composed of a common English, Scottish and Irish ancestry, its population was nonetheless divided along class, religious and ultimately ethnic lines.  Power and politics in colonial Upper Canada, was dominated by a mostly English elite, consisting of representatives of the Crown, government officials and clerks, doctors, architects, bankers, financial officers, teachers, military officers and engineers.  Almost all the powerful English were Anglicans.  Where one prayed, often reflected how one earned his income.  The men who met each other in the boardrooms of the Bank of Upper Canada, tended to worship together at the Church of St. James on the corners of Church and King Streets.[2]

In the simplified model of Toronto’s ethnic composition, the Scottish come next, often representing leading merchants, future manufactures, and publishers—the middle classes of varying wealth
It was the flood of Irish immigrants that was going to put a crack in the placid Toronto status quo.  The Irish arrived bitterly divided amongst themselves into Protestant and Catholic camps—and that was before the potato blight made its contribution to the divisions and spilled millions of rural Irish immigrants into the cities of North America.

Added to this volatile mixture in Toronto, would be the figure of the Orange Irish constable.
When it was first incorporated in 1834, the City of Toronto, referred to back then as “the Corporation”, was run as a small oligarchy of local politicians—the Family Compact. It was like a ‘city-state’ within the confines of Upper Canada, almost in the Italian Renaissance-era tradition.  The Mayor and Toronto Aldermen, held the positions of Magistrates along with their elected office and commanded the absolute personal loyalty of the Toronto Police.  In 1841, a Provincial Commission of Inquiry into politics in Toronto, would report:

We have carefully perused the enactments under which the City of Toronto was originally incorporated… and we find the power thereby conferred on the Civil Magistrates, the very use of which by men of any class, party, or persuasion, could hardly be other than an abuse.  The Corporation combines within itself, Legislative, Judicial and Executive functions.  It appoints its own officers, remunerates them at discretion, and discharges them at will.  It makes its own by-laws, enforces the same by its own Police, and executes them through its own tribunals…  In all these cases, the City Police or the City Officers appear to be so closely identified with the Magistrates on the Bench, and the whole machinery of justice so completely monopolized in the same hands, that it would be impossible for the most immaculate body of men in the capacity of Magistrates, to avoid imputations engendered by the doubts, the cavils, and the want of confidence which such a system must infallibly entail.[3]

Toronto City Council retained for itself the formidable power to hire Toronto police officers.  Each Alderman had the right to appoint a number of constables in his ward, resulting in a police force hired entirely through a system of political favours.  The Toronto police force was partisan, corrupt, and inept.  There were no standards of recruitment and no training, and even though uniforms were first issued in 1837, one contemporary recalled that the Toronto Police was “without uniformity, except in one respect—they were uniformly slovenly.”[4]

On March 9, 1835, Toronto retained five fulltime constables—a ratio of about one officer for every 1,850 citizens.[5] Their daily pay was set at 5 shillings for day duty and 7 shillings, 6 pence for night duty—a substantial raise to the 2/6 paid previously to constable conscripts.[6] Constables were appointed for a duration of one year, coinciding with the term of office of the alderman nominating them.   The constables’ annual pay was fixed at £75 per annum in 1837, a lucrative City position when compared to the Toronto Mayor’s annual pay of  £250.[7]

In 1837 there was a rebellion in Toronto led by the city’s former mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie.   There are no historical records that reveal what role the Toronto Police played in the suppression of the rebellion which was confronted by the militia while Toronto’s garrison was dealing with events in Kingston.  Nonetheless, it is one of those historical paradoxes, that while the rebellion has been unfairly and so far universally dismissed by historians as a farcical comedic opera, its effect would resonate on politics and Toronto police policy for more than a decade to come.  It would position the Toronto Police as a touchstone of the struggle between the Provincial-Municipal jurisdictions over the security within the confines of Toronto.

The nature of this jurisdictional conflict became quickly visible when in October 1838, a force of 500 rebels with American supporters launched an incursion into Upper Canada at the Detroit-Windsor frontier.   The Lieutenant Governor, speaking for the Province, asked the Mayor to convey a message to Toronto’s City Council that there was “an imminent danger of an immediate invasion of this Province and an attack upon this City by the Rebels and Pirates”.[8] The Mayor told the Council:
I am commanded by His Excellency the Lt Governor to communicate to you that in consequence of information of a conspiracy to invade this Province entered into by a numerous body of foreign Brigands, His Excellency had thought it right to take immediate steps for the protection of the City in anticipation of the employment and organization of an adequate Militia force.[9]
Toronto’s Aldermen rejected any Provincial role in organizing its citizens for the defense of Toronto, and responded to the Province:
In the opinion of this Council the most effective mode of seconding the views of the Provincial Government in protecting the city from the consequences of any attack which may be apprehended from the foreign Brigands alluded to in the Communications from His Excellency the Lt Gov to the Mayor yesterday date, will be to increase the strength of the Police force of this City and that therefore ten extra police Constables be forthwith appointed by this Council and that the City Magistrates immediately prepare a code of instructions for the government and guidance of said Police force.[10]
With a kind of one-upmanship, the Province responded to the City directly, offering to pay for an additional twelve constables in Toronto, but not without first pointing out the inadequacies of the Toronto Police, and advising the City that the Province via the Lieutenant Governor should approve the new constables:
The Council [Provincial Executive] are fully aware of the necessity which exists for an augmentation of the Police for the City, which at present appears inadequate as well for the purpose of discovering and defeating the machinations of the enemy without the active intervention of the Military…
The Council therefore respectfully recommend to your Excellency to communicate to the Mayor of Toronto that should the City Council think fit to appoint twelve additional Constables, to be employed for such period as Your Excellency may deem necessary, Your Excellency will engage that the necessary increased expenditure will be defrayed by the Government.
The Council would feel pleased if the City Council previous to making the appointments finally would communicate the names of the proposed constables for your Excellency’s approval.[11]
Toronto’s cagey alderman did not take long to both accept the offer while at the same time bristling at and rejecting the Province’s attempt to regulate the appointment of the constables.  Toronto City Council:
Resolved that this Council relying with every confidence upon the exertions of the Government to protect the public peace and ensure the safety of this Province are induced to believe that it is necessary that this City should be furnished with a Police force greater than in ordinary times would be required.
The Council heartily approve of the prompt manner in which the Government have offered to defray the expenses of twelve additional Constables, but relying as they do upon the zeal of the Mayor and Alderman of the City under any circumstances, while on the one hand they express their thanks to the Government for their liberal offer of Twelve additional Constables, which they accept, they conceive that any change in the present system of Police regulations which would interfere with the duties of the Mayor and Aldermen would be inexpedient as well as an infringement of the Act of Incorporation.[12]

The Rebellion of 1837 and the subsequent incursion at Windsor in 1838, would transform the Toronto City Police into a strategic objective in the struggle between the Province and the Municipality.  Any “infringement of the Act of Incorporation” by the Province was to be staunchly beaten back by the City for decades.  Furthermore, the Rebellion gave a context to the Toronto Police as a defensive force against rebellious external enemies.   Later, as we shall see, this function would be refocused towards what were to be perceived as potentially rebellious forces from within the community.  Crime fighting itself, was low on the agenda of perceived functions for the Toronto police.
Two principle political factions fought for power in Toronto during this time:  the Tories, who represented the entrenched old establishment, and the Reformers, who represented the rising new middle class establishment.  Making things more complicated, was the growing presence of a powerful secret society in Toronto:  the Orange Order, an ultra-Protestant movement born in the conquest of Ireland and the ensuing conflict between Catholic and Protestant there.  Its pro-England, proud trinity of crown, empire, and Protestantism, provided its members an ideological tradition that was reformulated in the context of local Toronto issues.[13]

There were at least twenty-six riots in Toronto between 1839 and 1860.  Almost all of these riots involved the Orange Order in some manner.[14] The Toronto Police constables, of which at least half were members of the Order, and all of whom were appointed by mainly Orange supported politicians, would act in not only in favour of the Orange factions in these riots, but sometimes participated in the riots as offenders as well.[15]
Making matters worse, incumbent Tory politicians were routinely using the Toronto Police as a private army to suppress their opposition Reform candidates.  In October 1839, Toronto constables were marshaled to break up a Reformist meeting at ‘Davis’s Temperance Tavern.’ [16] In December 1840, the Reformist paper Examiner trumpeted, “The reign of the present corporation is emphatically one of terror.”[17] A meeting of a Reformer candidate and supporters at a tavern on Yonge Street was cancelled when Toronto constables, reinforced with “specials” armed with clubs, occupied the tavern and dispersed the meeting.[18] In the following years, numerous legal political meetings and Reformer rallies were violently broken up by the Toronto Police, on orders from incumbent Aldermen.  Toronto Police constables would be personally transported in wagons by Tory aldermen at the reins, and set loose to attack Reform candidate meetings.[19] The incumbent aldermen had personally nominated each of those Toronto constables to his post.

It was in March 1841, when election violence in Toronto would finally spark a Provincial inquiry into the City and its police.  At that time, the Mayor and Chief Magistrate of Toronto was George Monro, a wholesaler, a Tory pew holder at St. James Cathedral, a director in several banks in Upper Canada, and a member of the Orange Order.  When Provincial elections were declared, Monro and a compatriot, Henry Sherwood, ran on a Tory ticket for the Toronto seats in the new Parliament.  The weight of the Orange Order and the Corporation city machinery was thrown in behind their campaign.  To everyone’s surprise however, they lost to the Reform ticket of Dunn and Buchanan.
The day after the election, the Dunn-Buchanan faction decided to stage a victory parade down Church Street, and past the defeated Mayor Monro’s offices in the City Hall which stood on King Street near Church at the time.  Near the corner of Church and King, was the Coleraine Tavern, which during the election was kept as an ‘open house’ for Monro’s faction.  Several Orange Order Lodges also held their weekly meetings in the Coleraine.  Witnesses testifying before the Provincial Commission stated that they saw a group of strangers armed with knives, sticks, and various firearms going in and out of the tavern on the morning of the parade.  The investigation later identified these men as members of the Orange Order in Scarborough, brought over in a wagon that morning by the owner of the tavern under the instructions of Samuel Sherwood, Henry’s brother.[20] (We will encounter Samuel again shortly.)

All this was occurring some eighty yards away from Mayor Monro’s office.  Several witnesses testified that they ran to Monro asking him to send some constables to the parade route, and for him to go to the Coleraine and calm his supporters down.  Monro refused and kept twelve of the twenty special constables hired that day, positioned inside the City Hall.  The remaining eight were not to be seen anywhere.[21]

As the parade began to make its way past the Coleraine Tavern it was attacked by rocks and bottles thrown by Monro supporters from inside.  Eventually the parade halted and began to threaten to attack the tavern.  At that point, a shot was fired from a tavern window, and one of the Dunn-Buchanan supporters was killed.  Troops were called out to restore order while the murderer was never identified and the Toronto Police remained conspicuously absent.  Charles Dickens who was visiting Toronto during this period later wrote of the events:
One man was killed on the same occasion and from the very window whence he received his death, the very flag which shielded his murderer (not only in the commission of his crime, but from its consequences), was displayed again on the occasion of the public ceremony performed by the Governor General, to which I have just adverted.  Of all the colours in the rainbow, there is but one which could be so employed:  I need not say that the flag was orange.[22]

In their report later that year, the Provincial Commission investigating the events and the administration of Toronto began by highly criticizing the efficiency in general of the Toronto Police:
The City of Toronto possesses no Night Watch.  The necessity for such an institution is obvious.  Within the last 3 weeks, one burglary and robbery to the amount of 1000 pounds has been committed.  This burglary was effected in a house immediately opposite to the Police Office, and an iron chest containing the money, removed without observation or subsequent detection.[23]
In defense of the Corporation, Charles Daly, the Clerk of the Peace, responded to the accusations.  He proceeded to point out that fighting crime was not the main function of the Toronto Police:
It is not their duty as Constables to detect infractions of the Provincial or Civic Laws, or to lay information on breaches of the same.  If they witnessed any such infraction, they would be duty bound to mention it to the Magistrates.  There is no summary punishment under the Law for resisting the Police in the execution of their duty.  There is no Night Watch beyond the two Police Constables on duty during the night.  They are appointed by the Corporation and removed by the same body at pleasure.  I consider the present Police force adequate for the daily protection and peace of the City; but as far as the prevention of crime and security of property is concerned, I think it be increased with advantage at night.  If the increase is made at all to be effective, it must be extensive.  I doubt if the increase would be agreeable to the citizens or if they would consider it repaid by the security conferred.[24]

The Provincial Commissioners focused on the system where city aldermen appointed police constables in Toronto.  In view of massive testimony about Toronto Police constables attacking opposition party events and workers, and their conspicuous absence during the violence at the Coleraine Tavern, the Inquiry concluded:
It is evident that a force thus constituted must be liable, in times of political excitement, to be employed as political instruments in behalf of those to whom the Corporation or a majority of the Corporation may be friendly.  The authority legally invested in these men, their habitual intercourse with the lower classes, the impression that they possess the ear of their employers, the favouritism they may be enabled to suggest, the petty and indirect tyranny they may be permitted to exercise, all combine to degrade a force of this nature into formidable engines of oppression.[25]
The Commission further focused on a method of coercion more subtle than the policeman’s baton:  liquor licensing.  By the time of the 1841 Inquiry, the number of taverns in Toronto licensed to sell liquor or beer was 140; one tavern for every fifty-two Torontonians over the age of sixteen.[26] The administration of liquor licensing was one of the duties of the Toronto Police.   Those tavern owners, who did not cooperate with the Tory politicians, soon found that their liquor licenses were not renewed upon expiry.  Mixed into this formula, were also all the ‘beer dispensing’ licenses, and unlicensed facilities, which the constables would see fit to handle at their “discretion.”  Making matters even worse, some liquor licenses were held by constables themselves.[27]
Numerous witnesses testified how their establishments were denied liquor licenses or had their licenses revoked when they failed to support the Tory party.  The Inquiry concluded:
The power of licensing or rather of deciding upon the qualifications of applicants for licenses–a power in the discreet and uncompromising exercise of which so much of public morality and good order depends, will and must be inevitably abused if entrusted, to the caprice of an elective Magistracy.  It will be prostituted to seduce the wavering, to reward the compliant, to punish the refractory.  The influence exercised by Tavernkeepers at public elections, is notorious, and we feel that the means which the existing Corporation have employed for securing or coercing this influence are sufficient to justify the preceding observations.[28]
Toronto’s taverns were the central focus of vote gathering power.  Dispensing intoxicants and gathering together a consensus, a tavern in 19th century Toronto, was as powerful a political tool, as television is today.   It is for this reason, that the Reform movement took an anti-alcohol stance in its early political platform. By breaking the tavern-based vote-focusing machinery of the Tories, the Reform movement hoped to seize power for itself in future elections.  However, once the Reformers aligned themselves with the religious Temperance movement in their bid for power, they found themselves permanently locked into an anti-alcohol platform on moral grounds, rather than political or strategic.  It is in these events, that we find the roots of today’s stringent liquor laws in Ontario and the foundation of the future puritanical  Toronto the Good.

View towards the “Coffin Block” at Front and Church Streets along the shoreline, circa 1845.  (top)
Building seen in sketch still surviving to be photographed in 1873. (above left)
Current “Flatiron Building” built in 1891 on the same site.  (above right)

Finally, the Provincial Commission turned its attention to the Orange Order in its Report:
The officers of the Corporation and the Police, are for the most part open and avowed Orangemen.  Orangeism has become the watchword and symbol of the party which supports the Corporation, and the most efficient if not the indespensable recommendation to civic favour or employ.
At the late Election, Orangeism was the Shibboleth of the Corporation party.  At the riots which ensued, Orangemen systematically brought into the City from the surrounding country were the most conspicuous actors…
We cannot, therefore, conclude this Report, without expressing our earnest conviction, that the existence of Orangeism in this Province, is a great and growing evil, which should be discountenanced, denounced, and repressed, by the exercise of every authority and influence at the disposal of the Government.[29]
After the report was published, Ontario quickly introduced legislation attempting to suppress the power of the Orange Order and regulate electoral conduct.  During elections the exhibiting of party flags and colours was outlawed, as was election bribery and the carrying of firearms.  In 1843 the Parliament further introduced the Party Processions Act and the Secret Societies Act, which was aimed at suppressing the Orange Order.[30] (The latter was disallowed by Britain as the Act failed to distinguish the Orange Order from another even more influential but less vitriolic secret society, the Order of Free and Accepted Masons.)  But there was nobody to enforce these Acts.  Certainly not the Toronto Police, for as Charles Daly testified above, it was “not their duty as Constables to detect infractions of the Provincial or Civic Laws, or to lay information on breaches of the same.”[31]

In 1843 City Council increased Toronto’s police strength to eight permanent constables. Two stations were established where a constable was kept on duty from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next morning.  The other constables patrolled in nine hour shifts but no night watch was introduced.[32]

The specter of the 1837 Rebellion reappeared again in Toronto in 1849 with the introduction of the Rebellion Losses Bill and the return to the city of William Lyon Mackenzie.  Rioting ensued and the homes of prominent Reformers were attacked, although the mobs stopped short of burning them down.  (In Montreal the Parliament building were set on fire.)  Once again, the Toronto Police were conspicuously absent while at least two Tory Aldermen led the rioters.[33] Mayor George Gurnett eventually called out the troops to restore order, for which he would be severely criticized by the Toronto City Council.

In 1849 it was approaching ten years since the Election Commission Report, but little was done to remedy the relationship between Toronto’s aldermen and the city’s police constables.  The Provincial government was moving very gradually in dismantling Toronto’s city-state administration. In 1849 it introduced the New Municipal Corporations Act, which placed Toronto’s local criminal judiciary—the Police Magistrate’s Court—under the control and pay of the Province.[34] But the Province timidly appointed Toronto’s Mayor, George Gurnett to that position.

Whatever the Province’s ambitions, the fact remained that Toronto was a key source of electoral power in the Provincial Parliament and throughout the 1840s and most of 1850s, Toronto elected Tory, not Reform candidates to the Legislative Assembly.  The Province hesitated to force reform on the Toronto Police system, despite the continual abuses.  In 1852, matters only became worse:  the City appointed Samuel Sherwood as Chief of Police.  Samuel was the brother of Henry Sherwood, whose defeat along with Monro had sparked the 1841 election riot.  Samuel Sherwood had been implicated during the Provincial inquiry in the organizing of the armed group inside the Coleraine Tavern which opened fire on the passing victory parade.[35] Now in 1852 Sherwood was rewarded with the position of Police Chief of Toronto, an appointment he would hold until 1859.

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