Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ahoy! To a New Sail: Schooner Days MCLXXXIX (1189)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 9 Oct 1954
Full Text
Ahoy! To a New Sail
Schooner Days MCLXXXIX (1189)

by C. H. J. Snider

SCHOONER DAYS turns from pookhauns and piracy to welcome a new friend—"Old Toronto, a Selection of Excerpts from Landmarks of Toronto by John Ross Robertson, edited, integrated, and sometimes emended by E. G. Kyte."

The Landmarks of Toronto, grown to six huge volumes by 1914, certainly required revision by that time. The great Canadian who had then been thirty years compiling and publishing them, John Ross Robertson, was quite of that opinion. Were he now living he would give this Old Toronto his blessing. Not as a revision of his own tremendous creation, but for emphasizing as it does the merits of that creation's kaleidoscopic portrait of his well-loved native city.

Old Toronto is not a microfilm of those Landmarks. It is a careful selection of some of their features. The picture presented is singularly faithful to the original film of Toronto, if the Landmarks may be called that. The editor's comments, clearly distinguishable, are unobtrusively helpful.

The "original sextette" of Landmark volumes take up twelve inches of space on the library shelf. Old Toronto presents them all, with twenty-seven of their thousand illustrations, in one 6-by-9 inch volume held comfortably in the hand. Much detail had to be jettisoned, or Old Toronto would never have floated on, its present plimsol mark of 346 pages. That is but little more than half of the loadline of each of the six Landmark volumes.

Much has been gained by this slimming process, even if at great cost. Old Toronto's presentation of the scattered Mackenzie Rebellion incidents in the Landmarks is undoubted improvement upon the original treatment. The Rebellion chapter is perhaps the best in the new book. For it alone we bless the name of the editor, and of the publishers, the Macmillan Company of Canada, Limited. Likewise for the "Four Profiles" among the myriads of Landmarks portraits. The four selected are John G. Howard of High Park, Anna Murphy Jameson of everywhere, Quetton St. George of York and Oak Ridges, and Joseph Bloor of Bloor st.

Also be they blessed for chapters on "The Course of Justice," and on "Tom Dick and Harry,", which garner the Landmarks scattered sketches of lights and shadows of real life in a community a hundred years a-growing from garrison to great city. This is the fine wheat of the Landmarks, the straw and bran being the brick, stone, timber and title deeds so faithfully commemorated. The new book is careful of every grain of it.

Churches take up one whole volume and half of another of the Landmarks. Old Toronto gives them 20 pages. These paint a clearer picture of 19th century churchgoing, and are more readable than Vols. III and IV taken at a sitting. For research, historic record, or specific interest, the full-paced tomes will always be preferred.

Our personal specialty, Toronto's marine history, receives similar pruning. Two hundred pages on lake navigation from the Landmarks are reduced to thirty, and have to accommodate additional matter besides. In Old Toronto the lake and the road are, so to speak, in the same bag. Very muddy, one might think, would be the result. Not so. The Landmarks' play-by-play presentation of pioneer transportation, by water and by land, crystallizes as a crisp selection of excerpts of general interest, good reading for everybody. The whole Landmarks, particularly Vol. II, will continue to be our Bible of the lake Marine, though well we know they differ from holy writ as regards infallibility. We would like to see another volume such as Old Toronto—Old Lake Ontario perchance—which would give all the marine information in the Landmarks, rearranged, strengthened, and purified and preserving all the desirable illustrations.

But you can't please everybody. Prof. Kyte has edited the Landmarks where they needed it most. He has integrated them as far as extracts from such a heterogeneous mass of information can be integrated. He has sometimes emended them and that without becoming tiresome. He has done what he set out to do, to our mind he has done it well. We speak as a Landmark lover of sixty years perseverance.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
9 Oct 1954
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.65011 Longitude: -79.3829
Richard Palmer
Creative Commons licence
by [more details]
Copyright Statement
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.


Ahoy! To a New Sail: Schooner Days MCLXXXIX (1189)