A “gallery” of memorial plaques inside the front entrance to Old City Hall is plain and unassuming.
Interested visitors, or those involved in court cases, will see them only if they glance up as they walk down the stairs on their way out.
High enough that some of the small print is hard to read, the memorials seem to be exactly where they were placed when first mounted. They share space with utilitarian radiators, old-style woodwork, and concrete steps worn down by thousands of feet over many years. Their random arrangement boasts no artistic spacing or design.
Yet, these bronze memorials are small treasures of Old Toronto’s story; the history not of big names—city movers and shakers—but ordinary Torontonians.
They recall those who signed up to serve in conflicts ranging from the Afghan War of 1842 to the Second World War’s end in 1945.
“Presentism” (judging past events by what we know today) could make some of the hostilities of long ago and far away bewildering—even incomprehensible. For King and Country doesn’t analyze reasons for wars. Instead, we highlight Torontonians who were going about their lives until they had to decide what to do about unrest elsewhere in the world.
There is no keynote explaining why Old City Hall was chosen for these plaques, but those named had strong connections to their city.
Every November 11th, crowds will gather at the cenotaph just outside the modest foyer housing these seven memorials. The historic heart of the city.
Here are the memorials we will feature over the next few weeks:
- His Majesty’s Imperial Army & Navy Veterans Association (various conflicts starting in 1842);
- City of Toronto Employees Association (WWI);
- Toronto Firefighters Association (WWI);
- Toronto Railway Employees (WWI);
- Toronto Battalion (WWI);
- Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (WWII) Three who died.;
- Lieutenant Colonel William David Allan (WWII death)