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Toronto the Good: Mythology or Reality??

So often, Toronto functions as the city that other Canadians feel the most ambivalent about. The proverbial expression "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" readily comes to my mind as I think of Toronto. And yet ironically, the nickname "Toronto The Good" points to a side of Toronto that has largely been forgotten in the Canadian amnesia about our own heritage and roots. I was talking recently to Phyllis Beck, the Deep Cove Crier Seniors Columnist, about Toronto roots, only to discover that her daughter-in-law, Barbara Hall, is the current Mayor of Toronto. I commented to Phyllis about the recent discovery that my Great-great-grandfather, Thomas Allen, was a senior Alderman in Toronto during a period of 19 years. When I was in Toronto a while ago, I kept driving back and forth past Allen Road. My ignorance about this road named after my Torontonian ancestor reminded me afresh of our Canadian forgetfulness about some of our own heros.

One such hero was Mayor William Howland of Toronto, a public servant who was so dedicated to helping the disadvantaged that he gave away most of his wealth. Son of the Honorable W.P. Howland, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, William was possessed with a bubbly enthusiasm and phenomenal capacity for hard work. By the age he was 25, William was president, vice-president, or a director of more than a dozen companies in the fields of insurance and finance, electrical services, and paint manufacturing. When he became president of the Queen City Fire Insurance Company in 1871, he was the youngest insurance company president in Canada. As well, Howland was President of three influential organizations: the Toronto Board of Trade, the Dominion Board of Trade, and the Manufacturer’s Association of Ontario. Out of his love for his country, he served as Chairman of the Canada First movement, personally financing its weekly newspaper "The Nation".

At age 32, Howland was led to Christ by his priest, Dr. W.S. Rainsford of St. James Anglican Cathedral. His life-changing experience gave him a new passion for helping the poor. He became involved helping with the Hillcrest Convalescent Hospital, the YMCA, the Haven Home for Unwed Mothers, the Prisoner’s Aid Association, the Central Prison Mission School, and the Toronto General Hospital. Night after night, Howland visited the slums, going from house-to-house, and reaching out to the poor, the sick, and the alcoholic.

Can one person really turn an entire city around? Click to find out more...

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St. Simon's Anglican Church 
North Vancouver, B.C.