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Happy Birthday Toronto !

On March 6th, 2014, Toronto will be turning 180 yrs old. Happy Birthday Toronto will ring in this monumental milestone with a semi-formal, cocktail affair, held at the historic John St. Roundhouse. Come step into a piece of history filled with big Band music and visual presentations created by Toronto-based artists celebrating Toronto: Past, Present, Future.

In the last 180 years, the city has become a pretty great place to visit and live. It's one of the most diverse places in the world, home to one of the best film festivals in the world, dozens of great neighbourhoods and plenty more.

The town was incorporated on March 6, 1834, reverting to the name Toronto to distinguish it from New York City, as well as about a dozen other localities named 'York' in the province (including the county in which Toronto was situated), and to disassociate itself from the negative connotation of dirty Little York, a common nickname for the town by its residents. William Lyon Mackenzie was its first mayor. Toronto was the site of the key events of the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837, led by Mackenzie.

By 1851, the Irish-born population became the largest single ethnic group in the city. The Orange Order, based among the Protestant Irish, became a dominant force in Toronto society, so much so that 1920s Toronto was called the "Belfast of Canada". The Orange opposed everything Catholic. They lost interest in Ireland after the establishment of Northern Ireland and the Orange influence faded after 1940.

Toronto grew rapidly in the late 19th century, the population increasing from 30,000 in 1851 to 56,000 in 1871, 86,400 in 1881 and 181,000 in 1891. The total urbanized population was not counted as it is today to include the greater area, those just outside the city limits made for a significantly higher population. The 1891 figure also included population counted after recent annexations of many smaller, adjacent towns such as Parkdale, Brockton Village, West Toronto, East Toronto, and others. Immigration, high birth rates and influx from the surrounding rural population accounted for much of this growth, although immigration had slowed substantially by the 1880s if compared to the generation prior. Modern amenities came to Toronto, including an extensive streetcar network in the city (still operational), plus long-distance railways and radial lines. One radial line ran mostly along Yonge Street for about 80 km to Lake Simcoe, and allowed day trips to its beaches. At the time, Toronto's own beaches were far too polluted to use, largely a side effect of dumping garbage directly in the lake. The Grand Trunk Railway and the Great Northern Railway joined in the building of the first Union Station in the downtown area. The advent of the railway dramatically increased the numbers of immigrants arriving and commerce, as had the Lake Ontario steamers and schooners entering the port.

Toronto stands for the multicultural, the new, the daring, the artistic, the young professional, the conscious-minded striving for a better tomorrow. With focus on what our city has been, is and will be,

Happy Birthday Toronto is a celebration of the city’s fundamental past, the evolving present and its promising future.

Observator     3/6/2014


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