Ever since the invention of the automobile and aeroplane, the way people moved changed rapidly. Henry Ford’s Model T put the dream of a personal car within reach; improvements in planes through the inter-war period into World War Two and the post-war period allowed long-distance travel at an even faster rate. While steam motive power continued to drive many railroad operators through the war, the rise of diesel began to reshape even the train industry. Through the war, fuel and material shortages spiked passenger train services, but even now, those were starting to decline. It became clear that the golden age of rail had comeRead More →

The late 19th century brought the final push to extend out the transcontinental line. The arrival of the 20th century, the Canadian Pacific Railway was the only line that extended across Canada, at least from Vancouver to Montreal. In Ontario, Grand Trunk managed to secure itself as the big player in the province by absorbing all the competition but could not do that with Canadian Pacific finding itself against a competitor that it simply could not buy out. This was the golden age of rail travel when mighty steam locomotives travelled across the country; rail networks connected people and places, mail and cargo were easilyRead More →

Throughout most of my 52-Roll projects, I made a point that at Week 45 or thereabout, to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country, here in Canada that is called Remembrance Day and falls on the 11th of November to mark the armistice that ended the fighting on the western front. While I had initially planned to photograph the Milton Remembrance Day Parade the Sunday before the 11th, I quickly shifted to feature cenotaphs and war graves in Oakville, Milton, and Guelph due to other plans. This week there are a few items to unpack historically, but let’s startRead More →

In about three decades, the railway in Ontario had grown from a small collection of operators to the principal means of moving people and cargo around the Province and, by extension, Canada. But the one thing that it still lacked was a complete link across the entire length of British North America. While some efforts had been made in 1873, the resulting scandal ousted the MacDonald conservatives, and the new Liberal Government made some efforts to start the construction in 1875. Despite completing 1,000 kilometres of track by the time they were voted out in 1878, not enough had been done. MacDonald returned to power,Read More →

If you haven’t heard of the small community of Petrolia, that makes perfect sense, it seems a bit out of place here in Ontario. But this is the area credited with kicking off an early oil boom in Ontario and within the British Empire. While a shadow of its former glory, the name and legacy live on as part of Canada’s role as a major exporter of raw resources. Back thousands of years, the Attiwonderonk, Anishiabewaki, and Mississaugas made use of the sticky tar-like substance through the region to help with waterproofing their canoes. The area remained the territory of the Mississaugas until the CanadaRead More →

Today moving around is easy. At the same time, we deal with traffic and delays, our availability of automobiles, aeroplanes, transit, and trains. Combined with well-paved roads, GPS, maps, gas stations, rest areas, travel for us in the 21st Century is a breeze. But some two centuries earlier, life in Ontario, then Upper Canada, was far more challenging. Many who lived in the settlements well outside the few urban centres never strayed too far from home. Local roads were often blazed trails from Indigenous people who lived on the land. Sir John Graves Simcoe had ordered military roads, but even these were little more thanRead More →

Known as Stone City, Kingston is one of Ontario’s oldest cities. The city traces itself back to the early days of colonial settlements in New France. While today the city remains a military stronghold. It has also gone through an identity crisis due to its connection to Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald, and his government’s continued role in destroying Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The first known human settlement where the modern city of Kingston stands today dates back to around 9,000-3,000 years ago, although the first permanent human settlement would not come until around 500CE. The Hurons would occupy the land until theRead More →

History is far more complicated. And when it comes to the history of the railroad in Ontario, there are many more moving parts to the story than most people think. The history of the railroad does not begin in the 19th Century; rather, the events of the early 19th Century are simply a culmination of a vast array of the human need to improve our own mobility beyond that of our own two feet or the control and domestication of animals. As I am fond of saying, there has to be context to understand. While this is not the furthest I’ve gone back in time,Read More →

When it comes to Historic Fort York in Toronto, most people will associate with the Anglo-American War of 1812, which isn’t wrong. The fort is home to the most extensive collection of original buildings from the era and is among the oldest buildings in the city. But this week, we’re moving ahead by a century into the fort’s role during Canada’s involvement in the First World War. When Canada found itself at war in 1914, it had only served once overseas during the Second Boer War. Canada’s involvement in that colonial conflict resulted in a great deal of reform within the Militia. The Militia hadRead More →

If there’s one thing that I have missed over the past two years, it’s a historical reenactment. And while most if not all War of 1812 events in Canada have again been cancelled, I have managed to satiate my desire for some historical reenactment and, more importantly, photography. Earlier this year I attended a small event in Milton with the 11th Swiss Rifles, a reenactment unit that portrays a typical Swiss Rifle unit during World War One. So when a larger event came up at Toronto’s historic Fort York, I jumped at the chance to see some friends, as you’ll quickly find in the hobbyRead More →