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How well do you know Toronto’s history? Try our Canada 150 quiz


A map of the city of Toronto and environs, 1893.

Canada’s largest city has a history of ignoring, and then paving over, its own history – usually to make way for a condo tower. So perhaps as the country marks 150 years since Confederation – and many reflect on the Canada’s history, good and bad – it’s a good time to take a look at Toronto’s, too. Reporter Jeff Gray took a timeout from covering city hall to draw up a summer quiz to test your knowledge of historical events – some grand, many obscure – over Toronto’s last century-and-a-half or so.

In Toronto, all sports were banned on Sundays, until voters overturned the law in a plebiscite in what year?


b. Former mayor David Miller, partly in an attempt to decrease use of the Island Airport, had city construction crews widen the Western Gap and make it into a permanent channel for recreational boaters in 2003.

c. The British military, modifying the harbour after the war of 1812, dug out the Eastern Gap to make it easier for warships to flee York east to superior fortifications at Kingston.

d. Hurricane Hazel, which hit Toronto on Oct. 15, 1954, turned a small man-made channel into the large and permanent Eastern Gap.

8 Which of the following amazing events in baseball history both actually happened, and happened in Toronto?

a. New York Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield killed a pigeon with a line drive during batting practice in 1991.

b. Babe Ruth, who would go on to glory with the New York Yankees as the Sultan of Swat, hit his first professional, regular-season home run at a stadium on the Toronto Islands in 1914, playing for the visiting Providence Grays.

c. On a 1948 visit to Toronto by the Havana Sugar Kings baseball team, a young pitcher named Fidel Castro played his first and only three innings outside of Cuba against the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League, walking two batters and giving up a home run.

d. Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, legendary for theatrical arguments with officials, was suspended for an unprecedented 22 games after biting the hand of home plate umpire Ron Luciano in a fight over a called third strike at Exhibition Stadium in 1978.

10 On Dec. 2, 1934, 15,000 people jammed into then two-year-old Maple Leaf Gardens, and 3,000 more were turned away, according to The Globe’s report, to see:

a. Maple Leafs legendary defenceman Francis Michael (King) Clancy honoured by his team in a pregame ceremony that saw him carried onto the ice in a throne, wearing a crown and robes.

d. A speech by future British prime minister Winston Churchill, during whose talk the public-address system failed, prompting him to carry on regardless after remarking: “Now that we have exhausted the resources of science, we shall fall back upon Mother Nature and do our best.”

11 The last capital punishment meted out in Canada – the hangings of two men convicted of separate murders – occurred at Toronto’s Don Jail in:

True or false: When the Royal York hotel opened on June 11, 1929, it was the second-tallest building in the entire British Commonwealth.

18 About whose exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) did The Globe’s critic in 1922 write the following: “Their self-imposed isolation, their enunciation of their own ideas, such as ‘pattern’ rather than ‘atmosphere’; their frequently heavy technique; their indifference to what is ‘sweet’ or pretty, or conventionally acceptable, mark them out at all times.”

19 Who launched his national political campaign in Toronto in 1957 with a speech to what The Globe and Mail called a “roaring rally” at Massey Hall, noting that he had lived as a boy in East York and that Toronto needed more representation in the federal cabinet?

21 What is the real name of the Bloor Viaduct, and when did it open?

22 Provincial censors clashed with producer Robert Lantos in 1978, demanding that a 40-second love scene be deleted from a film being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival (then called the Festival of Festivals). Organizers refused, and showed the uncut version. What was the title of the film?

a. Mr. Boyd shot a prison guard with a tiny revolver smuggled into the jail inside an apple pie baked by his girlfriend.

b. Mr. Boyd and his associates bribed guards into allowing them to climb a prison wall and run into the nearby Don Valley during an exercise session.

d. Using hacksaws smuggled into the jail in a hollow compartment inside Leonard Jackson’s wooden foot, the three criminals sawed through a barred window and slipped away.

b. The city’s first electric traffic signals, with red, yellow and green lights, to govern the growing number of cars.

How did you do?


Canada 150 crossword: A printable (and huge) puzzle from The Globe and Mail