John Goddard

Journalist and author

Top 10 Useless Historical Facts from “Inside the Museums”

1. The Orange Order began as an Irish Protestant fraternity sometimes referred to as the Loyal Order of Lodgemen, or LOL.

017baldwin2. Robert Baldwin, of Spadina House, left instructions for a male version of a Caesarean section to be performed on his corpse in homage to his beloved wife, Eliza, who died at twenty-five in 1836 after such an operation.

Boulton3. To project a dignified image as Mayor of Toronto in 1846, William Boulton sat for his official portrait wearing black silk stockings, frilly sleeves, and white lace exploding out of his vest.

4. John George Howard’s Colbourne Lodge features Toronto’s oldest existing indoor toilet.

MackenzieSubday5. “The most cruel and intense sensation of pain” that Rebel leader William Lyon Mackenzie says he ever endured came when, trying to escape, he walked naked up to his neck in an ice-filled stream carrying his clothes above his head.

6. A meeting to debate Toronto’s first municipal tax ended in horror in 1834 when the Market Hall balcony collapsed, hurling at least seven spectators onto the butchers’ hooks below and killing them.

3-2 GibsonLiza7. With government militia closing in, rebel wife Liza Gibson hid her baby in a snowbank and returned to her house to rescue the family clock, the most technologically advanced item anybody could own in 1837.

2-1 SirWilliam8. At the age of seventy-five, in 1834, Chief Justice William Campbell subsisted on a diet of snipes hunted in the marshy harbour, and died when the birds flew south that fall.

9. As a high-school project in 1934, sixteen-year-old Sheila Wherry built one of Fort York’s standout exhibits, a scale model showing York and its defences in 1812.

Henrietta10. Postal rates and paper cost so much in the early 1800s that, after writing one page, a person would turn the paper ninety degrees and write the second page over it at right angles.

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