questions in the park

Posted: November 30, 2016 in history, locations
Tags: , , , ,

The other day when I was walking through the east part of Riverdale Park I wandered over to a statue I hadn’t noticed before.  He stands amongst trees a distance from Broadview Avenue.  With the leaves gone from the trees he’s much more visible now.

below: A grey Dr. Sun Yat-Sen stands in the park on a grey November day.
It was commissioned by the Chinese Canadian Commission and  sculpted by Joe Rosenthal in 1984/5.

statue in a park on a grey November day, trees have lost their leaves, dead leaves on the ground, some green grass in the background, statue is of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a Chinese man

The transcription of the English portion of the brass plaque that accompanies the statue:

“Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925)

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, also known as Sun Wen, was a native of Tsu-Heng village Chung Shan District in Kwantung Province.  A devout Christian, he studied medicine in Hong Kong and took upon himself the task of overthrowing the tyranic Ch’ing Dynasty and of establishing a republic of democracy and freedom.  Having completed his studies, he practised medicine for a few years, since 1893, he devoted himself to the above political ideal and wrote his famous works “Three Principles of the People”, “The Five-Power Constitution”, “Plans For National Reconstruction”, and “Fundamentals for National Reconstruction”.  He planned and led no less than ten uprisings until the Wuchang Uprising in October 1911 brought about the success of the revolution.  He was elected provisional president but resigned soon afterwards and still devoted himself to the cause of the National Revolution.  On March 12, 1925 he died in Peiping and was given a state burial at Nanking in June 1929.”

Why does he stand here?  A political figure with no known ties to Canadian history.  There aren’t too many statues of such people here in Toronto.   Part of the answer probably lies on the back of the statue where there is a list of the names of those who donated to the building of the statue.  Most of them are Chinese, members of the Chinese diaspora in Toronto.   Added note: it was interesting to learn that Yat-Sen had visited Toronto to raise money for his fight in China.

When I was walking toward the statue, I stumbled upon an old cannon in the park.  It’s aimed over the DVP towards the Bloor Viaduct.  Another little surprise on a grey day.

An old cannon from the 1800's stands in a park surround by trees on a grey November day.

Why is there a cannon here I wondered?  Of course the internet has the answer to all questions.  Apparently, “When the Hon. A.P. Caron, Minister of Militia and Defence, made a visit to Toronto in 1881, a local Alderman asked him for cannons with which to decorate Riverdale Park.”  (I assume the Hon. A.P. Caron was a federal minister in Ottawa).   Five were delivered from Quebec City to Riverdale Park where “they were set up on a wooden platform in battery-like formation.”     In 1886 one of those five was moved to its present location on the Broadview side of the park.  (source)

below: This 32 pound cannon bears the cypher of King George III on the top of the cannon.  King George III ruled from 1760 until 1820 for a total of 59 years and 96 days.  He was the third longest reigning British monarch – behind Queen Victoria (63 years and 216 days) and Queen Elizabeth II (64 years and counting).

the insignia on the top of a cannon from the 1880's, markings in the brass of the cannon , royal insignia

Two pieces of history located within a stone’s throw of each other in a quiet Toronto park.  Two very diverse, and different, histories but both part of the political and social history of this city.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s