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Toronto, the Centre of an Emerging Canada

This monologue portrays John K Crutcher, a Porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway, as he retells the events of Christmas Eve 1954. Performed by Laurence Dean Ifill at Union Station.

The main hub of activity in confederated Canada was Toronto and its surrounding municipalities. Initially the railways headquarters and the main business centre of Canada was Montreal, but as Canada developed and WWII came to an end, Toronto became the financial and political centre of the country. Toronto’s Union Station was the heart of commercial activities. It saw a steadily rising flow of businesspeople, politicians, tourists and new immigrants. With the increasing importance of the railways that carried more and more passengers came the porters, red caps and messengers — all Black men — that were required to keep the railways running smoothly and to serve the needs of the railway passengers. Toronto would become the site for social and political agitation by the Black sleeping car porters and their allies to fight for social change in Canada. Well into the 1970’s, Union Station was the hub of this power—the centre of the emerging Canada. Bay and King remains to this day the financial centre of Canada based on the legacy of its proximity to Union Station

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Image 1: Front Street view of Union Station in Toronto, [August 22, 1949], C 3-1-0-0-589, I0020202, Archives of Ontario

Image 2: Construction of Union Station, [May 6, 1919], C 290-1-0-1, I0014040, Archives of Ontario

Image3: Union station, the railyards and Toronto harbour, [193-], RG 9-7-5-0-30, I0002016, Archives of Ontario

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