The history of Ontario and locally, Mount Dennis, is filled with contradictions and imperfect solutions. There is much to admire, but also much to address and correct.
Ontario (Upper Canada) was one of the first jurisdictions to end slavery, but it was done over a period of time. One can argue that this avoided the horrific upheaval witnessed in the USA, but the concessions made by John Simcoe, and Henry Dundas, and their involvement in suppressing the Haitian independence movement still affect us. Simcoe’s concession was complicated because Thayendanegea ( Joseph Brant ) had been part of the British military that fought in the American Revolutionary Wars, and had brought slaves to Canada.
Many farmers and business owners opposed slavery for their own financial reasons, so the compromises made were largely for political and financial factors. Today, the community association faces a similar dilemma, how to balance the need for renewal with the challenges of gentrification, how to protect the public green space when land is needed for housing, how to be sure everybody is treated fairly rather than equally.
When the Canadian Pacific Railway was created, settlement in Manitoba grew exponentially. George Taylor Denison III, buried here at the St John’s (Denison) cemetery, was quoted as saying he refused ‘to defend a Government of land sharks who have villainously wronged the poor native and the actual settler’. But as a loyal soldier of Her Majesty, he boarded the CPR at West Toronto Junction and fought against the Northwest Rebellion in 1885. The cemetery is a registered historic site, and you are encouraged to visit respectfully. The monuments speak to Empire wars around the world since 1812, and to public service throughout that time.
Our shared path needs people to consider that wrongs can be righted, but that to do so we must create a new framework. We hope that we are moving in that direction, and welcome your thoughts.