The Centennial of the City of Toronto was celebrated in 1934, commemorating the incorporation of York into the City of Toronto. The celebrations included numerous events, exhibitions, and commemorations. Of the most modern relevance is the "Toronto's Hundred Years" Publication Committee, which published Toronto's 100 Years, from which much historical perspective may be found.
Along with a General Centennial Committee, Toronto had at least sixteen Special Committees. They were the Music and Pageantry, Permanent Memorial, Flying, The "Toronto's Hundred Years" Publication, Travel Promotion, Veteran Reunion, Pictures, Religious Services, Stamp Exhibition, Sports, Street Decorations, Flower Show, Song Judging, Public Address, National Groups, and the Drills Corps Display Committee (which included a Mailing List Committee).
General Centennial Committee
- Honorary Chairman: Brigadere-General C. H. Mitchell, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.
- Chairman: J. A. Northey
- Director: Lieutenant-Colonel H. R. Alley, O.B.E.
- His Worship William J. Stewart, Mayor of the City of Toronto
- J. E. Atkinson, The Toronto Daily Star
- H. C. Bourlier, Toronto Convention and Tourist Association
- George Brigden, Board of Education
- C. L. Burton, Toronto Industrial Commission
- Colonel H. S. Cameron, Toronto Transportation Commission
- Alderman Ralph C. Day, the Council of the City of Toronto
- J. E. Ganong, Board of Harbour Commissioners
- W. G. Jaffray, The Globe
- Brigadere-General C. H. Mitchell, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., Toronto Board of Trade
- John Munro, Trades and Labor Council
- J. A. Northey, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
- Colonel The Honorable W. H. Price, The Government of the Province of Ontario
- Controller J. G. Ramsden, Board of Control of the City of Toronto
- T. A. Reed, University of Toronto
- Douglas S. Robertson, The Evening Telegram
- F. D. L. Smith, The Mail and Empire
- J. P. Travers, Separate School Board
- W. Wadsworth, Formerly of the Council of the City of Toronto
- F. E. Waterman, Canadian Manufacturers Association
- John Westren, Canadian National Exhibition Association
It is possible more Committees existed, as it was published "It is greatly regretted that the names of the members of other committees which are being formed are not available for this edition."
|Music and Pageantry Committee||Ernest MacMillan, B.A., Mus. Doc., F.R.C.M., F.R.C.O., (Chairman), Captain J. S. Atkinson, Eugene Beaupré, Milton Blackstone, E. P. Burns, C. B. Cleveland, F.R.I.B.A., Fredric C. Foy, H. A. Fricker, M.A., Mus. Doc, F.R.C.O., (Chairman - Music Subcommittee), Major A. C. Galbraith, Miss Pearl McCarthy, M.A., B. Litt., (Oxon), J. Campbell McInnes, A. J. Mason, Lawrence Mason, M.A., Ph.D., J. E. Middleton, Herbert E. Moore, F.R.A.I.C., (Chairman - Pageantry Sub-Committee), W. M. Murdoch, George A. Patton, B.S.A., Thomas M. Sargant, Owen Staples, O.S.A., Edgar Stone, Miss E. Tedd, F. R. McVity|
|Permanent Memorial Committee||George H. Locke, M.A., LL.D., (Chairman), C. E. Chambers, Hector Charlesworth, Shirley Denison, K.C., Alderman H. W. Hunt, Tracy D. Le May, Colonel Mackenzie Waters, M.C.|
|Flying Committee||Wing-Commander D. G. Joy, A.F.C., R.C.A.F., Squadron Leader G. S. O'Brian, A.F.C., R.C.A.F., Major R. E. Nicholl, Fleet-Lieutenant W. A. Curtis, D.S.C, R.C.A.F., Fleet-Lieutenant A. H. Keith Russell, R.C.A.F., Lee Murray|
|The "Toronto's Hundred Years" Publication Committee||F. D. L. Smith, (Chairman), Eric Arthur, M.A., A.R.I.B.A., Hugh Eayrs, Main Johnson, A. H. Robson|
|Travel Promotion Committee||W. Fulton, (Chairman), A. H. Foster, John V. Foy, W. F. Prendergast, H. F. Tilley, Charles Watson|
|Veteran Reunion Committee||Major Alex Lewis, (Chairman), Colonel W. Rhodes, D.S.O., M.C., Captain W. W. Parry, K. C., Captain V. W. Fairweather, Sergeant Charles J. Brown|
|Pictures Committee||Martin Baldwin, M. O. Hammond, Arthur Lismer, T. A. Reed|
|Religious Services Committee||Rev. Canon C. V. Pilcher, M.A., D.D., Anglican Church, (Chairman), Rev. John Marshall, Baptist Church, Rev. G. M. Dunn, Presbyterian Church, Rev. G. Kelly, B.A., Roman Catholic Church, Major Noah Pitcher, Salvation Army, Rabbi S. Sachs, B. A., Jewish Synagogues, Rev. W. Harold Young, M.A., D.D., United Church of Canada|
|Stamp Exhibition Committee||C. F. Foster, Fred Jarret, G. G. Macdonald, W. I. MacTavish, Donald Taylor|
|Sports Committee||Lieutenant-ColonelT. R. Loudon, (Chairman), George H. Beedham, Hamilton Cassels, John de Gruchy, Chief Inspector George Guthrie, Alderman Fred Hamilton, Charles E. Higginbottom, Elwood Hughes, James G. Merrick, P. J. Mulqueen, Fred Nobert, Harry Price, MPP, Charles E. Ring, Major Alexander Sinclair, John W. Turner, T. K. Wade|
|Street Decorations Committee||Lieutenant-Colonel F. H. Marani, F.R.A.I.C., (Chairman), Fred S. Haines, Maurice Grimbly, F. M. Kay, Ivor Lewis, F. W. Peasnell, Percy Quinn, W. H. Stainton|
|Flower Show Committee||Percy Bone, (Chairman), C. E. Chambers, G. I. Christie, B.S.A., Ds. C., John F. Clarke, Harry Endean, J. B. Fairbairn, Lionel Godson, John S. Hall, William McKay, F. C. Nunnick, B.S.A., John Oakes|
|Song Judging Committee||Ernest Seitz, (Chairman), Jack Arthur, Rex Battle, Donald Heins, Peter C. Kennedy, E. J. Pratt, M.A., D.D. Th. D., F.R.S.C.|
|Public Address Committee||Major L. Anthes, W. J. Cairns, J. G. Clarke, S. B. Gundy, Colonel B. O. Hooper, J. McCoubrey, W. G. Mills, J. F. M. Stewart, John Tory, Captain R. J. Williams, E. W. Wright, K.C.|
|National Groups Committee||Kenneth L. Cameron, (Chairman), Mrs. Frank Adams, J. H. K. Booth, Mrs. P. Foster, N. Hornyansky, Rev. J. I. McKay|
|Drills Corps Display Committee||Inspector Robert Alexander, Mrs. J. B. Colgan, A. Coulter, Mrs. Mary Cusack, Mrs. J. Hall, Mrs. J. G. Howell, A. Johnson, Mrs. Thomas Kerr, Mrs. Charles C. Lewis, Mrs. Mary C. Mayhew, Morley E. McKenzie, R. E. Midgley, S. C. Parks, Display Marshall, Dr. H. Pocock, Mrs. Ruth M. Quinn, Mrs. Rockwood, John Roxborough|
|Mailing List Committee||George A. Mitchell, (Chairman), W. J. Foster, Mrs. A. May Ralston|
Events and ceremonies
While events occurred throughout the year, many were scheduled to happen in one of three three-day periods. The first began on Victoria Day, the second after Dominion Day (now Canada Day), and the third at the end of summer, but before the Canadian National Exhibition's annual opening.
Victoria Day Weekend, May 24, 25, 26
Of note, Toronto first proclaimed Victoria Day in 1848. Soon recognised by the federal government, Canada became the first country to declare it a national holiday. By the time of Toronto's centennial, the movement had spread to the entire British Empire.
Re-opening of Fort York
Victoria Day (the 24th) was dedicated to the re-opening of Fort York, originally erected in the "virgin woods hereabouts in 1793". "At the touch of a Royal hand", the fort's gates were to be opened,
to the crash of arms on the old parade ground, the tramp of thousands of troops, kaleidoscopic streams of colour, heralds and their vigorous fanfare. The entire Garrison, Dragoons, Grenadiers, Rifles, Highlanders and other famous units--uniformed with all the brilliance and dash for which the British forces are famous. A score of Bands in the full glory of military raiment, a spectacle which for pomp and ceremonial cannot be surpassed.
The guide to the centennial entices American readers by repeatedly highlighting General Zebulon Pike, encouraging them to "stand just as reverently here while the guide points out the exact spot on the battlements of Toronto's ancient citadel were Pike met death in his hour of victory."
The Empire Pageant
Running all three nights of the period was an "inspiring historic" Empire Pageant. Held a night, the outdoor performances looked at the history of the city from the establishments of Natives and M. de la Galissoniere, to then present day educational, industrial, and social developments.
It was noted in promotional materials that:
Almost wholly Anglo-Celtic, home-owners rooted in the soil of their city, the people of Toronto, in whom all the British emotions are centred, are noted for their ability to arrange spectacles of gorgeous colour and sweeping movement--the traditional arts of their Motherland.
The show included an Exhibition Chorus of 2,000 "trained voices" conducted by Dr. H. A. Fricker. Fricker was at that point leading the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Promotional materials billed Toronto as the "Choral Capital of America." Also performing was the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, under Dr. Ernest MacMillan. Both organizations still operate.
Canadian Corps Reunion, August 4, 5, 6
The first ever reunion of the Canadian Corps was held in Toronto, over a three-day period. While there was mischief reported, for the most part the soldier's celebration went off smoothly.
While original plans called for German and Austrian veterans to be included in the parade, but they were scratched at the day of. Corps reunion officials said, "They will not parade with the corps. Beyond that we do not wish to comment."
During the reunion
After two days of hospitalisation in Neudeck, East Prussia, President Paul Von Hindenburg of Germany died of uremia poisoning on 2 August 1934. Shortly after news of the 86-year-old's passing made Berlin, Chancellor Adolf Hitler was named President by Constitutional amendment. By the start of Toronto event for Great War veterans, German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was reported to be working on a "high-pressure drive to bring Germans in mass to the polls Aug. 19 to vote Adolf Hitler into office as... "Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor"."
The host city itself was busy dealing with the Ontario Hunger Marchers. Marchers were holding meeting in Toronto parks without permits. While the hunger marchers had walked the highways down to the event, they were sent home via capacity-loaded trucks, as ordered by Premier Mitchell Hepburn, to remove them from the city. These Marchers were so prominent that some children mistook a veteran with a red beret for one.
Some residents complained that "our largest hotels lack decorations of any description, and especially this week," when the veterans were in town.
Part of the promotions included a pamphlet "Toronto Centennial 1834 1934: Within a night's ride for fifty million people of the U.S. and Canada". While including the locations of Sault Ste Marie, Niagara Falls, Montreal, and Quebec, the map focuses on American cities. This focus on the United States in highlighted in the second page text "To the Question---"WHERE WILL WE GO THIS YEAR?"/All America in 1934 can cheerfully answer/"TORONTO"". At the time, fifty million people were "[w]ithin an overnight trip" from the city. The pamphlet was of a significant gloss and weight, with a full-colour cover.
At the time, the City's marketing slogan was "The Citizens are the City".
- "Enemy Veterans Not in Parade", The Evening Telegram, Saturday, August 4, 1934. 1st page of 44, 7th column of 8.
- "Hero-Diplomat dies in service he twice left". The Evening Telegram. 1934-08-02. p. 1.
- "Hindenburg Dies, Hitler Seizes His Office". The Evening Telegram. 1934-08-02. pp. 1–2.
- "Nazis Begin Rally Voters". The Evening Telegram. 1934-08-04. p. 1.
- "Park meet law to be enforced Mayor declares", The Evening Telegram, August 2, 1934. 1st page of 48, 5th column of 8.
- "Hunger Army Rides Home At Government's Expense", The Evening Telegram, August 2, 1934. 1st page of 48, 4th column of 8, continued page 2, column 1.
- "First Division Beret Of Suspicious Hue", The Evening Telegram, Saturday, August 4, 1934. 1st page of 44, 5th column of 8.
- Letter to the editor writer with a pseudonym "Observer", "Lack of Decorations For Centennial Year", The Evening Telegram, Saturday, August 4, 1934. 11th page of 44, 2nd column of 8.
- Archival papers are held at the University of Toronto Archives and Record Management Services