I have spent much of the last year in Toronto and am soon to become more of a casual visitor again than pseudo resident. On this last day in the city, I wanted to do something I’d been meaning to do for some months which was encounter some of the most important history in our country and I would argue, the modern world. I wanted to go on a walk on this Sunny day in the city and encounter some remnants of the life of Robert Baldwin. But the only record of this important man’s time in this city is a plaque near a Starbucks. Heritage Toronto is not well-funded (and unlikely to become any more well-funded) but the loss of recognition for this important part of our history is not a modern event.
Canadians need a better relationship with our history. I know there is an appetite for it as I saw at the ROM sponsored debate series this winter called History Wars. But in a city where heritage buildings literally crumble as citizens walk by, I think both our politicians and we as citizens must do more to protect our historical narrative as a country and as a people.
Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine created the Canada we know, but their names and the places they lived and worked have been all but forgotten. The Star’s Christopher Hume explains.
An important part of the Baldwin story is the story of his friendship with LaFontaine of Montreal who together with Baldwin instituted Responsible Government in Canada. The men share a statue on Parliament Hill but are otherwise largely forgotten. Two students of Concordia University in Montreal are currently attempting to have LaFontaine’s Mansion restored and recognized as an historical site. To sign their petition you can follow the above link.