Happy Mothers Day!
I didn’t write this blog post specifically for Mothers Day even though it’s about four women, Mary Pickford, Edith Cavell, Florence Wyle, and Frances Loring. Just because they are women doesn’t mean that they are mothers, in fact only one is. Mary Pickford adopted two children. I also didn’t intend to write a blog post on the merits of motherhood vs childlessness so I am going to say nothing further on the subject!
The first woman can be found at the corner of University and Elm. Here, there is a a bronze portrait bust of Mary Pickford that was sculpted by Eino Gira in 1983.
The plaque beside her says:
Born in 1893 in a house which stood near this site, Gladys Marie Smith appeared on stage in Toronto at the age of five. Her theatrical career took her to Broadway in 1907 where she adopted the name Mary Pickford. The actress’s earliest film “Her First Biscuits”, was released by the Biograph Company in 1909 and she soon established herself as the international cinema’s first great star. Her golden curls and children’s roles endeared her to millions as “America’s Sweatheart”. She was instrumental in founding and directing a major film production company and starred in over fifty feature-length films including “Hearts Adrift”, “Pollyanna” and “Coquette”. For the last named film she received the 1929 Academy Award as the year’s best actress.
below: Just up the street, next to one of the entrances of Toronto General Hospital, is a memorial to British nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915) and to all the Canadian women who served as nurses in WW1. The memorial was installed at University Ave and College St. in 1921 but later moved to its present location.
In memory of Edith Cavell and the Canadian nurses who gave their lives for humanity in the Great War. “In the midst of darkness they saw light”
Cavell had been working in Brussels when WW1 broke out. After the Germans invaded Belgium, Cavell helped wounded Allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands. She was caught by the Germans, charged with treason, and executed on 12 October 1915. She became the most well known woman casualty of WW1.
The above memorial was designed by Florence Wyle. There is a memorial to Wyle and her partner, Frances Loring (also a sculptor), in a small park at the corner of Mt Pleasant and St. Clair.
below: bronze bust of Florence Wyle, by Frances Loring
below: bronze bust of Frances Loring, by Florence Wyle
below: There are a couple of small statues by Wyle in the same park, including this one.
“Young Girl”, about 1938.
Loring and Wyle are responsible for a number of sculptures around the city. Two of these used to be on the Bank of Montreal building at the northwest corner of King and Bay. It was built in 1887 by architects Marani and Morris and demolished in 1968. The building featured a series of sculptures representing the Canadian provinces that were done by a number of artists. Frances Loring sculpted the panels for Ontario and Quebec. When the Bank of Montreal building was demolished, all of the panels were moved to the grounds of the Guild Inn in Scarborough where they remain today.