OTD: Toronto named Ontario’s capital city

On today’s date in 1867, Toronto officially became Ontario’s capital city.

One hundred years later, on Sept. 28, 1967, Canada’s Post Office Department commemorated this moment in Ontario history with a five-cent stamp (Scott #475). Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company, this slate green and salmon pink stamp had a print run of 27,960,000.

STATEGIC IMPORTANCE

Toronto’s location has been of strategic importance throughout most of history, and certainly since before Ontario was a colony of British North America known as Upper Canada. Historians claim a small French trading post, which survived for about 10 years, was located in the same vicinity in the 1720s, during which time the area was frequented by European explorers and the various Aboriginal people of the area. Toronto was also the site of villages built by the Senecas and the Missisaugas at this time.

John Graves Simcoe, first

John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, has been commemorated with this statue located at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

DEVELOPING A TOWN

In the late 1700s, Governor in Chief Lord Dorchester was told of the site’s potential and ordered a surveyor to prepare a town site. Dorchcester’s plans, however, never materialized.

Several years later, Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe arrived with his family and men of the Queen’s Rangers to rekindle development in the area. Simcoe christened the town “York,” after the Duke of York, a which name stuck until its incorporation as the City of Toronto in 1834 (although, by the early 1800s there was a movement to restore the name of Toronto).

ADMINISTRATIVE HEADQUARTERS

Before Confederation in 1867, Toronto played a prominent role in the affairs of Upper Canada; however, it wasn’t until 1796 government officials were ordered to move their offices from Newark (present day Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.) to York. The first parliament of Ontario was in Newark from 1792-96.

At the time of the War of 1812, York’s population was estimated to be around 800. By 1998, the Greater Toronto Area boasted a population of more than 2 million. Today, it’s the largest metropolitan area in Canada with more than 5.5 million people.

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