North Toronto's 'Manifest Destiny' earns praise
An article detailing the December 1912 annexation of North Toronto by the City of Toronto has received a Heritage Toronto Award.
“The ‘Manifest Destiny’ of North Toronto” which appeared in the Torontoist last December, on the 100th anniversary, received an award of merit in the “short piece” category. It was presented to author David Wencer during an Oct. 15 event at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Koerner Hall.
Wencer, an archivist at the Hospital for Sick Children, said he was inspired to write the article after noticing how “significant” North Toronto’s size had been then, compared to other additions to Toronto.
“I became curious as to why that happened — what forces would be in place,” Wencer told the Town Crier afterward.
According to the books and historical newspaper articles Wencer researched, North Toronto struggled in the early 1900s to fund the amenities — including paved streets, electricity and plumbing — its growing residential population demanded.
Traffic was also a problem, with Yonge Street increasingly clogged by commuters using it as a thoroughfare between downtown Toronto and communities to the north, and streetcar service was broken up by separate franchises in each municipality.
North Toronto’s town council created a committee to address the transportation issue, but couldn’t afford to carry out any of its plans.
“I think there’s a little parallel between what happens in that article and some of the ongoing transportation issues in communities that are much further from downtown Toronto,” Wencer said.
That parallel turned out to be part of the reason his article won the award, according to Heritage Toronto marketing director Stacey Fowler.
“The jury appreciated the fact that David Wencer’s well-written article provides historical context for contemporary debates about the provision and maintenance of municipal services across the communities of Toronto,” Fowler said.
Wencer’s award was one of 19, in seven categories, handed out by the city-run heritage group.
Now in their 39th year, the Heritage Toronto Awards recognize publicly nominated books, short pieces, media, architectural preservation and community volunteer efforts that improve the connection between Toronto residents and their city’s heritage.
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