Posts Tagged ‘Walter Allward’

subtitle: Hanging out in front of Queen’s Park

There is a collection of statues in the front of Queen’s Park.  With the exception of the statue of Queen Victoria, they are of men who helped shape Toronto, Ontario, and Canada in the early years.    I was going to spend some time writing about what each person did but this post started to become very dull.  I don’t mean to diminish the accomplishments of these men, but reading a summary of their lives isn’t the most interesting way to spend time.   If you want to learn more about any of them, I’m sure you can find much more information online!

First, the monarch.  Queen Victoria.  She was born in 1819 (almost 200 years ago!) and became Queen in 1837 when just 18 years old.  She reigned for more than sixty years until her death in January of 1901.   Her husband, and father of her 9 children, was her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.   The fact that her statue’s here is no surprise.  Queen’s Park was named in her honour after all – it was opened by her son Edward in 1860.  The statue though didn’t appear here until 1902, after her death.  It was designed by Mario Riggi.

statue of Queen Victoria in bronze. She's seated, wearing crown and holding mace/staff

Also in the front of the parliament buildings are the statues of six other historical figures:  Sir John A. Macdonald, John Graves Simcoe, Sir Oliver Mowat, George Brown, John Sandfield Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie, and Sir James Whitney.  Most people would recognize Sir John A. Macdonald as the first Prime Minister of Canada and some Torontonians might be familiar with the contributions of Mr. Simcoe to their history, but the other four men, who are they?

Let’s start with John Sandfield Macdonald (no relation to Sir John A. )   He was born in Glengarry County Upper Canada in 1812.  He was the first Prime Minister (Premier) of Ontario, starting with Confederation  and the formation of the province of Ontario on 1st July 1867.  He held that position until 1871.  The sculpture is by Walter Allward, 1909.

statue of a man, John Sandfield Macdonald, in front of the parliament buildings at Queens Park. An Ontario flag is reflected in the windows of the building.

 

Next,  Sir Oliver Mowat .  He was born in Kingston Ontario in 1820.  In 1840 he moved to Toronto to study law but in 1857 he was elected a Liberal member of the Legislature of the Province of Canada.  He held various government positions at both the provincial and federal levels up until his death in 1903.  He took part in the Quebec Conference of 1864 which led to Confederation in 1867.  He was the third Prime Minister (Premier) of Ontario after John Sandfield Macdonald and Edward Blake (who was leader for less than a year and has no statue).  He led from 1872 to 1896.     During his almost 24 years as leader of the Ontario Legislature he introduced the secret ballot in elections and extended suffrage beyond property owners.  He also created the municipal level of government.  Between 1897 and his death he was a Senator and then the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.  This monument was unveiled in 1905 and was also designed by Walter Allward.

black statue of a man, Sir Oliver Mowat, standing with a book in one hand, and the other hand behind his back. The figure is on top of a grey stone rectangular column, autumn tree in the background.

below: Sir James Whitney was a member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly from 1888 until his death in 1914.  For the later part of those years he was the Premier of Ontario – he was elected four times as Premier.  The statue was sculpted by Hamilton MacCarthy and was unveiled in 1927

statue of a mna with his right arm extended, Whitney, in front of the parliament buildings at Queens Park.

I’ve also included William Lyon Mackenzie (1795-1861) with this group of men even though his statue is more to the west of the parliament buildings than in front of them.   He was the first mayor of Toronto (1834) although he was only mayor for a year.   He was also a leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837.

statue of William Lyon Mackenzie, shown from the waist up and missing his arms, trees in leaf behind him,

below: The oldest man of the lot is John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806), founder of the city of Toronto, the designer of Yonge Street, and one busy man in his time.

statue of a man in bronze standing on a grey stone column, yellow tree behind him. He's got a sword in one hand, with its point on the ground and he is leaning on it slightly

And last, the most well known of the men, Sir John A. Macdonald, first Prime Minister of Canada.

statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, first Prime Minister of Canada, on a grey day, in front of the Ontario Legislature at Queens Park in Toronto,

 

 

 

On this day, the 16th of November, in 1885, Louis Riel was hanged in Regina, the capital of the Northwest Territories at the time and the headquarters of the North West Mounted Police.

During that year, Riel led Métis people in the Northwest Resistance (or Northwest Rebellion depending on which side you were on), which was a stand against the Government of Canada because it was encroaching on Metis rights way-of-life.  The Métis were defeated at the siege of Batoche and the Canadian government captured Riel. He was eventually put on trial where he was convicted of treason and executed. As a result, Métis people across Canada were labeled as traitors and for generations many felt the need to hide their Métis culture and heritage.

Riel had previously led the Métis in the Red River Rebellion of 1869-1870.  In 1869 Canada bought Ruperts Land from the Hudsons Bay Company (Ruperts Land covered most of what is now western Canada).   The end result of this rebellion was the formation of the province of Manitoba under the Manitoba Act of 1870.  The Act included some of Riel’s demands such as separate French schools for Métis children and protection of the Roman Catholic religion.   Manitoba was a small piece of what was once Ruperts Land.  A little province surrounded by a large Northwest Territory.   History is often difficult to condense into a couple of paragraphs but there is a lot of information about Riel and the history of western Canada on the internet if you are interested in learning more.

Now, the 16th of November is Louis Riel Day, a day to look to the past and remember what Riel stood for.  It is also a day to look at the present and to recognize the many contributions of the Métis to Canada and to highlight the continuing struggles that Métis continue to face.

below: The Metis flag is raised in front of the parliament building at Queen’s Park. The flag features a large white infinity symbol and the background can be blue or red. The infinity symbol can be seen as a representation of the faith that the Métis culture shall live on forever and/or the joining of two cultures to form one.

raising a blue Metis flag in front of Queens Park

below: After the raising of the flag, the colour party leads the procession through Queen’s Park .

colour party of 6 men carrying flags lead a procession through the park in front of the parliament buildings at Queens Park, autumn and most of the leaves are off the trees.

below: People congregated at the Northwest Rebellion Monument.  This monument honours the 43 men who fell on the battlefields in 1885.  There is no reference to the Métis defenders who also died during the resistance or the Métis desire to negotiate. It reflects the widespread belief that the Métis were traitors, an idea that was prevalent at the time the statue was commissioned.   It was unveiled in 1895; the figure of Peace on the top of the monument was sculpted by Walter Allward.   Since its inception in 1993 the Metis Nation of Ontario has used this monument as the focal point for its Louis Riel Day ceremony.

statue, memorial to those who died in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, to the soldiers on the winning side, at Queens Park, with people around it, a flag with picture of Louis Riel is planted beside the monument,

below: The base of the Northwest Rebellion memorial is decorated with a picture of Louis Riel along with Metis flags, Metis sashes, a Hudson Bay blanket and a violin.

base of monument with picture of Louis Riel, a violin and a Hudsons Bay blanket on it.

below: Senator Verna Porter-Brunelle opened the ceremony at the base of the memorial to the Northwest Rebellion.  Other government speakers included the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Dave Levac as well as the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, David Zimmer.
a woman in a pink jacket stands behind a podium draped with the Metis flag, speaking to a group of people outdoors at QUeens Park on Louis Riel day.

#LouisRielDay