Law & Order
A non-descript mid-rise building now sits on the north side of King Street on the site of the gallows where Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews were hung in 1838 for their role in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion. A bit farther east on King at the intersection with Church, stately St. James Cathedral dominates.
In the 19th century, Toronto was piously known as the City of Churches. But in the late 1800s, the city also earned the nickname “Toronto the Good” as a centre of 19th-century conservative Victorian morality, and in response to Mayor William Holmes Howland’s determined efforts to clean up the city’s rampant corruption. Toronto stopped on Sundays. Sports were banned, and some stores not only closed but even draped their windows.
The nickname stuck well into the mid-20th century. Though Toronto is statistically one of North America’s safest cities, it has had its share of crime, as some of the stories in this theme recall. And as the stories show, at times Torontonians have had to confront uncomfortable associations with “moral” offenses, crime and their definition of “good.”
A selection of sites from this theme is laid out in the trail Righteous Toronto.
Anti-Greek Riots Rock City , August 02, 1918
433 Yonge Street
Bathhouse Raids Enrage Gay Community , 1981
Mutual St. and Carlton St.
Cinema 2000 on Seedy Yonge Street , March 02, 1970
Yonge St. and Edward St.
George Brown Shot By Disgruntled Employee , 1880
King St. W. and Bay St.
Last Public Hanging in Toronto , 1862
57 Adelaide Street East
Marching “For Crown and Country and the Reformed Religion” , 1873
College St. and Euclid St.
Osgoode Hall: Rare Treasure in an Urban Rush , 1832
130 Queen St W
Printers Demand a Nine-Hour Day , 1872
Queen's Park Crescent E.
Take the Money and Run , 1952
Lansdowne Ave. and College St.
The Murder that Made the Junction Go “Dry” , 1897
Keele St. at Dundas St. W.
Walking for God and Raising Hell: the Jubilee Riots , October 03, 1875
King Street West and Spadina Avenue