Friday, 21 July 2017

Memories of World Youth Day 2002

Fifteen years ago, Toronto hosted World Youth Day, an international celebration of Catholic faith established by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1985. The week-long youth festival (July 23-28, 2002) culminated in a papal mass at Downsview Park. It was the last time John Paul II personally attended the event.

The theme of World Youth Day 2002 was "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). One outcome of WYD 2002 was the establishment of Canada's first national Catholic network, Salt + Light Television. Visit their website for footage of WYD 2002 events.

As the archdiocesan archives of the host city, we have some interesting mementos of World Youth Day 2002 in our holdings:

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

World Youth Day 2002 hard hat belonging to Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto.  Worn during the groundbreaking ceremony at Downsview Park.  (Photo: Catholic Register [ARCAT microfilm copy], 12 June 2005)

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

Bronze medal by Dora de Pédery-Hunt depicting the Sermon on the Mount, from which WYD2002 took its theme: "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world."  On the verso is inscribed "Dies Juvenum Toronto / MMII." 
Cardinal Ambrozic was a patron of the Hungarian-Canadian sculptor; he commissioned and collected many of De Pédery-Hunt's works. Copies of this medal were gifted to attending bishops.

Graphics Collection, PH31W/30ST

These stamps and Date of Issue envelope were presented to Cardinal Ambrozic by Canada Post on the occasion of the official unveiling of the World Youth Day stamp

Accession 2015-001

White mitre with yellow, blue and red brush strokes and yellow lappets. Worn with matching stole and chasuble by all attending bishops during the WYD 2002 Papal Mass at Downsview Park.

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

The ubiquitous pilgrim bag given to WYD 2002 participants. Contents include: bandanna, candle, rosary, Toronto postcards, Canadian flag and pin, TTC maps. 350,000 of these bags were manufactured.

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

Toronto Transit Commission Pass for unlimited travel on the day of the Papal Mass, 28 July 2002



Friday, 14 July 2017

The Decree Against Communism

In 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published a pamphlet called The Communist Manifesto, which became one of the most influential documents of the 19th and 20th centuries. They described a political and social system in which social classes no longer existed and everyone could benefit from the labour of everyone else. The ideas they espoused went on to be the philosophical basis of political parties around the world, perhaps most notably in Russia, where Vladimir Lenin took power in 1917. Many more Communist governments took power in other countries over the next half-century and particularly after the Second World War. Theoretically, the tenets of Communism seem to improve the lives of average people; however, there were many leaders who used the political system to come into power, only to become dictators. Additionally, Communist governments tended to oppose the Catholic Church and promoted or even demanded atheism. Recognizing the threat that Communism presented to the Church and to the faithful, on July 16, 1949, Pope Pius XII published the Decree against Communism, which announced excommunication for anyone who professed Communist doctrine.

Decree Against Communism

Q4: If Christians declare openly the materialist and anti-Christian doctrine of the communists, and, mainly, if they defend it or promulgate it, "ipso facto," do they incur in excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See? 

R: Affirmative

July 1, 1949

MG RC295.01
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

Here in the archives, the earliest reference to Communism is found in the Archbishop Lynch fonds. A correspondent assures Lynch that his trade union doesn't support the ideology.

"I also send you a copy of an address I procured from N.Y. so you can see what ... creeds they now advocate. Free Lovism and Communism are twin sisters in crime."

March 25, 1873

L AH18.03
Archbishop Lynch Fonds


By Archbishop McNeil's time in office, the Russian Revolution had taken place. The Archbishop of Lemberg (now known as Lviv, Ukraine) wrote to the Catholic hierarchy of North America in 1921 to tell them about the state of affairs in his territory and in Russia: "Bolshevism has caused in Russia great material hunger. Millions may die of starvation. But it has caused a still greater spiritual hunger ..." Continuing into the 1930s, concern continued to grow. Archbishop McNeil wrote a letter to be read in parishes about the dangers of the Russian government promoting atheism, and the possibility that other countries could follow in their footsteps. A 1933 publication warned of "The Red Menace:"

The Red Menace!

September 8, 1933

MN AS01.12
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

In 1932, Archbishop McNeil received a report about Communist activities in Toronto from the Chief of Police. There were many labour groups that were being monitored for socialist leanings. A few years later, Archbishop McGuigan shared similar information with the Apostolic Delegate. There was a recognition that Catholics should provide social action to provide an alternative to the appeal of Communist groups.

"I hereby submit to Your Excellency a succinct statement of Communistic Activities in Toronto, together with the remedies we are trying to employ against it."

July 13, 1936

MG DS38.29a
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

Russia was an ally of Canada during the Second World War, but after 1945, the Iron Curtain fell and distrust turned into the Cold War. With Stalinism, anti-Catholicism increased. In Canada, Catholics were horrified to learn of the treatment of Hungarian József Cardinal Mindszenty, who was tortured into 'confessing' to crimes against the Party.

"The sentence passed on Cardinal Mindszenty, following the mock trial of Budapest, though not unexpected, will nevertheless shock the civilized world."

[1949]

MG SP24.25
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

As an important Canadian leader, Cardinal McGuigan was asked to comment on the threat of Communism:

"Should Canadian Communists continue to enjoy same privileges and guarantees as other individuals and other political parties? Request your opinion for publication in poll of representative Canadians."

July 18, 1946

MG DA32.71
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

By the 1950s, McCarthyism took hold, and although Communism was a legitimate concern, there was a certain level of paranoia, as we see in this letter from someone who was convinced that fluoridated water was a Communist conspiracy:

"On page five of Fluoridation Unmasked, it is indicated that fluoridation is one form of Communist Warfare."

March 22, 1954

MG PO08.23
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

By the 1970s, although there were still governments using the name of Communism around the world to gain and keep power, the threat on the home front wasn't as much of an issue. Canadians learned to differentiate democratic social policies such as universal health care from the policies of dictatorships. Though the threat of Communism didn't materialize in Canada, the documents in the archives show how worried the Catholic Hierarchy as well as Canadians at large were. It is clear that Communism had a huge effect on the world, but the fear of Communism also had a profound impact on North Americans.   


Friday, 7 July 2017

The Lure of the Big Screen

With the kids home and the temperature rising, many families will undoubtedly be heading to the movie theatres this summer for a few hours of air-conditioned entertainment.

The lure of the cinema has been attracting Toronto families since 1906, when the city's first permanent theatre was opened by John Griffin under the name of the Theatorium. Throughout the twentieth century Hollywood productions only grew in popularity, as did the number of cinemas and number of cinema-goers. You can see some fine examples of Toronto's past movie theatres here.


Crowds at the Theatorium. The line up rivals those found at modern day movie premieres!

[c. 1910]

Fonds 1244, Item 320A
City of Toronto Archives



The Williams family at the Long Branch Theatorium.
The movie theatre has been a family gathering place for over a century.

[c. 1915]

Call no. 964-6-16
Toronto Reference Library
Finding movies that the whole family could enjoy was surely a daunting task. These days we have the benefit of the Canada video rating system to help us choose what movies our children should see, but an age-based rating system was not established in Ontario until 1946. How did parents determine what films their families could see before this?

Here in our archives I uncovered a copy of a letter from the Canadian Council on Child Welfare entitled an "Experiment in Approved Motion Pictures". It was written sometime in the 1920s, and promises to provide (upon request) a 'white list' of movies suitable for families and children. The movies on the list are guaranteed to be stimulating for children while remaining "free from sordid, sensual, brutal, and criminal detail."

Experiment in Approved Motion Pictures

[1920s]

MN WL01.46
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

Compiling such a list was surely a ground-breaking yet tedious task for its time. Unfortunately we do not have a copy of the white list in question, but I'm wondering what would have made the cut from this list of 1920s blockbusters.

Now, if you're still on the hunt for some summer movie recommendations, look no further! I found a list of films available for distribution by Picture Service Limited from the early 1920s that has a little something for everyone.

A list of films available for distribution by Picture Services Limited

[1920s]

MN WL01.43
Archbishop McNeil Fonds
The variety of films on this list is quite interesting. It opens with some church films available for purchase and ends with some dark, secular dramas. Just check out this movie poster for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

1919
Public domain image, via Wikimedia Commons


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring John Barrymore, is available to watch on YouTube. But be forewarned, it's a thriller. Viewer discretion is advised.

Friday, 30 June 2017

One Dominion Under the Name of Canada

Participants of the Charlottetown Conference, the first of three sessions negotiating the terms of confederation.

September 1, 1864

By George P. Roberts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This weekend we are celebrating 150 years of Canadian Confederation. On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was created by the British North America Act, which joined Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada (Quebec and Ontario). The terms of the union were negotiated at three conferences: Charlottetown in September 1864, Quebec in October 1864, and London in December 1866. The 36 delegates who attended these three conferences are known as the Fathers of Confederation.

Here in the archives, we have letters from ten of the delegates to Bishop Charbonnel and Archbishop Lynch. If you're a history nerd like we are, you'll love seeing the signatures of some of the men who created Canada!

George Brown was the publisher of The Globe newspaper, and he played a major role in Confederation. He corresponded with Archbishop Lynch on a number of matters. In the letter below, he wrote about placing a Catholic in government.

"I am, my Dear Archbishop, Faithfully Yours, Geo. Brown"

December 21, 1871

L AE12.22
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir George-Étienne Cartier was the co-premier of the United Province of Canada. He was a proponent of federated provinces, promoted railways, and was instrumental in bringing the western provinces into the Dominion. In the letter below, he wrote to Archbishop Lynch against George Brown's politics.

"The most obed. svt., Geo. Et. Cartier"

July 4, 1864

L AH09.25
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt was an entrepreneur and was a representative in the government of Canada pre- and post-confederation. In 1883 Galt invited Archbishop Lynch to his daughter's wedding.

"Believe me, my dear Archbishop, yours very sincerely, A.T. Galt."

June 25, 1883

L AE11.15
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir William Pearce Howland was a businessman and politician who attended the London Conference. He was an ally of Sir John A. Macdonald and was Minister of Internal Revenue in the first government. He wrote to Archbishop Lynch to acknowledge a letter of recommendation.

"Yours Respectfully, W.P. Howland"

December 6, 1864

L AE12.04
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir Hector-Louis Langevin was a journalist and politician who advocated for French and Quebec rights in Confederation. He wrote to say that he would do what he could for Archbishop Lynch's protégé.

"I remain, My Lord, Your Lordship's Most Obedient Servant, Hector Langevin."

August 20, 1867

L AH32.171
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir John A. Macdonald was the most important figure in the history of Confederation. He served as Canada's first Prime Minister. He wrote the letter below to ask for Archbishop Lynch's support in influencing Catholic voters and to assure him of his "determination to grant equal justice to all classes and denominations."

"I remain, my dear Lord, Yours vy. faithfully, John A. Macdonald."

June 19, 1861

L AF02.01
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Thomas D'Arcy McGee was a politician and journalist who fought for minority religious rights, especially those of Catholics. In 1856 he wrote to Bishop Charbonnel to express his wishes to raise his children in Ottawa rather than New York, as he thought he would find more religious tolerance in Canada.

"I have the honor to subscribe myself, Your Lordship's Most Obedt. servant, Thos. Darcy McGee."

July 10, 1856

C AH01.01
Bishop Charbonnel Fonds

Sir Oliver Mowat was a lawyer and politician who helped shape the rights of the provinces within Confederation. As Ontario Attorney General, he wrote to Archbishop Lynch about the needs of poor immigrants.

"Yours truly, O Mowat."

January 9, 1883

L AO25.03
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché served with British forces in the War of 1812, after which he became a doctor. He became involved in politics in the 1840s and advocated for the resolutions of the Quebec Conference that became the Constitution. He wrote to Bishop Charbonnel about calculating the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Toronto.

"J'ai l'honneur d'etre, Monseigneur, Votre Grandeur le très-humble & très-obéissant Serviteur, E.P. Taché"

December 7, 1855

C AB11.39
Bishop Charbonnel Fonds

Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley was a pharmacist, New Brunswick politician, and ardent temperance activist. He supported New Brunswick's entry into federation and likely suggested the name "Dominion of Canada." He wrote to Archbishop Lynch to thank him for his support of the temperance movement.

"I am Yours Sincerely, S.L. Tilley."

January 15, 1879

L AE12.78
Archbishop Lynch Fonds

The July 1st, 1867 federation of the four provinces was just the beginning. The United Colony of British Columbia joined in 1871, the Colony of Prince Edward Island joined in 1873 and the Dominion of Newfoundland joined in 1949. In 1870 Rupert's Land was acquired from the Hudson's Bay Company, and from that Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were created that year. In 1898 the Yukon Territory was created from part of the Northwest Territories, as were Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905. Finally, Nunavut was created in 1999.

As we celebrate 150 years of Confederation, let's thank God for keeping our land glorious and free!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Voices of the War: Letters from 1917

By this time 100 years ago, the First World War had been raging for nearly three years. Canada was a huge part of the war effort, whether on the front or at home. The Archives has many records relating to the Great War. This week’s blog features a handful of them from 1917.

The war touched many lives, and Archbishop McNeil was not immune. His 30-year-old nephew, Tom, spent a great deal of time overseas and periodically wrote his uncle.

In the Field
Oct. 24th, 1917

Dear Uncle:
Have been putting off writing you from month to month.
Thought you would be more or less interested in my whereabouts.
Cannot possibally (sic) write a letter of any interest from the field but as soon as I go to England I will write you a good letter.
I am in my third year in the field and I am planning on going home on leave should this war last any longer than the spring.
We are advancing every day now and the oppinion (sic) on this front is that the actual fighting will be over in March .18.
Up to the present I have been on all parts of the Western Front. When we came to France first early in .15, we were continually bombed by the enemies[’] planes. Some wonderful change now. Where any work or move was on the enemy planes were always overhead. Now we do not see an average of 1 plane a day from the other side.
Cannot write any of my account as the censor rules are very strict.
I am enclosing a cheque. Very sorry same was so long delayed. Do hope you will pardon me.
Hoping you are in good health and taking good care of your-self.
Your fond nephew
Tom

MN AA03.35
Archbishop McNeil fonds


Archbishop McNeil also knew priests who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Fr. Julius Pirot wrote this letter to McNeil about his duties at a hospital in France and a charming account of the soldiers’ reactions after battle. Pirot also mentioned sunken hospital ships. By the time this letter was written at the end of April 1917, ten British hospital ships had been sunk during the war, almost all of them torpedoed by German U-boats. As McNeil's nephew indicated in his letter above, censors were very strict about what information could be shared. Evidence of this can be seen in Pirot's letter, where parts have been scratched off or cut out (and subsequently fixed by an ARCAT archivist).

In France, April 27th, 1917

Your Grace,
I must let you know that I am still alive. Indeed, thanks God, I am always well and happy in my work. I spent three months at the camp of Shornecliffe, and was sent here on the 5th of March. The work is practically the same everywhere. I am now in charge of a Canadian hospital and of an Imperial camp. There are about 700 Catholics in the camp and 50-70 in the hospital. Of course the patients just pass through in their way to England. You have heard that some of our Hospital-ships were sunk, what’s certainly an awful thing. Is this the end of the world? God only knows what we are going to see this year. [censored] Nevertheless our boys are wonderful. You should see them after a battle! When they arrived here from Vimy, a noisy joy filled the hospital. They were proud, of course! and how dirty! And they fell in the cots, and it was too sweet for anything to hear them snoring! One cannot help loving them dearly, for it is a fact that the fire of battle purifies their hearts and spirits. I never heard any of them complaining. And they’re so glad to see the priest! – I have my billet at the parish-house, but we board at the hospital. In this part of France, one fourth of the people go to church. The others are indifferent. War did not improve them very much. Poor France! She has not suffered enough yet; but the Catholics here have no courage: they let the others do as they like, and the others, laughing at them, continue to destroy the Church. [censored] 
I hope that Your Grace is enjoying good health. Toronto must be very nice by this time with her great display of tulips. In France we have no flowers yet; spring is very late, and it is cold. “no bonne” say the soldiers; and they know what that means in the trenches!
Please Your Grace pray for us
J. Pirot
Chaplain C.F.
No. 2 Stationary Canadian Hospital, France

FW CS01.26
First World War fonds


People often asked the Archbishop for prayers or comfort or help. Understandably, wartime increased these occurrences, as people had more reason to be concerned about their loved ones.

Vancouver, B.C.
June 5th, 1917

Your Grace:
My son Gerald has joined the Royal Flying Corps and leaves for Toronto on Thursday of this week to do his little bit for his country.  I have given him a letter of introduction to you and Mrs. Barry and myself would take it as a great honor and favour if you would take a little interest in him.
We have never had one anxious moment about him, and now that he is a man we feel that his habits are well formed and that he has strength of will to take care of himself; yet this being the first time he will be away from us for any length of time we would like you to have your fatherly eye on him.
Thanking you in anticipation for any trouble we may be putting you to. I beg to sign myself on behalf of Mrs. Barry and myself
Yours faithfully
J. F. Barry

MN AH06.85
Archbishop McNeil fonds


More than anything, Gilbert A. Sim, a gunner in the CEF, wanted to be a chaplain. He wrote multiple letters to Archbishop McNeil from 1915 to 1917, hoping that McNeil would help him in that regard. In Sim's last letter to McNeil, which is written in a booklet measuring just 14 x 8.5 cm (5.5 x 3.25 in), Sim listed the many battles he took part in and again expressed his desire to be a chaplain. 

304354
Heavy T.M. Battery
3 Division Canadian
France
Dec. 1917

My Lord Archbishop
I beg to wish Your Grace a very Happy New Year, and also to mention a subject which is very much on my mind.
Your Grace knows very well under what conditions I enlisted and I have now been in the Army over two years, the best part of that time having been spent in France and Flanders in the front line.
I was in action at the third battle of Ypres, the second Battle of the Somme, Causalette (sic) [Courcelette] and the taking of Beaumont Hamel, the Battle of Arras and the storming of Vimy Ridge, and lastly in the hard fighting in Belgium which included the taking of Passhendale (sic). I have endeavoured all through this to be true to my beautiful Faith and to my calling as a Cleric, and I feel that I can now approach Your Grace as to my future.
I had intended to apply for a Commission but have been advised by Chaplains, many of whom I know, to write first to you, to see if it would be possible for Your Grace to procure for me a discharge that I might be enabled to continue my training for the Priesthood, for which end I have already devoted so many years of my life.
I might then be able to return to the Army with the only Commission for which I really long and for which I think I should be most suited. Your Grace already has my papers previous to my enlistment. With regard to my military record I can refer to my Commanding officer Captain Bennett, M.C.
Begging a blessing 
I have the Honour to be
My Lord Archbishop
Yours most respectfully
Gilbert A. Sim, C.F.A. [Canadian Field Artillery]

FW GC02.12
First World War fonds


In order to deal with requests such as Gilbert Sim’s, Archbishop McNeil may have referred to the statement from the Office of Militia and Defence sent to him by Col. Charles F. Winter, Military Secretary of the Militia, which explained methods of dealing with personal requests concerning soldiers serving overseas in the CEF. Requests included promotions, commissions, leave or discharge, and return to Canada.

Letter from Charles F. Winter to Abp. McNeil,
Feb. 1917

FW CS01.23
First World War fonds
Memorandum Regarding Methods of Dealing with Personal Requests Concerning Soldiers Serving Overseas
with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 
Feb. 1, 1917

FW CS01.23
First World War fonds


During the war, life changed dramatically both overseas and at home. Fr. Melville D. Staley wrote Archbishop McNeil about the shortage and high cost of food in France and also noted that he had received a shipment of socks for the soldiers. 

No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital
B.E.H.
France

July 2nd/17

Your Grace,
I write to advise you that I have left England and am now located at the above address. God has blessed me with good health enabling me to carry on my work quite alright. Food is very dear here and suffering and misery from the war is plainly evident on all sides, but one cannot help it but admire the spirit of the people. I see in a shop window melons, small ones, at twenty francs a piece which will give you an idea of the price of foodstuffs which varies accordingly.
I received not long ago a very nice consignment of home made socks from Our Lady of Lourdes Patriotic Association. It was indeed a great gift and the soldiers appreciated them very much. I have brought a few I had left with me.
Remember me kindly in your pious prayers and with every good wish. I remain
Your obedient servant
Fr. M. D. Staley

FW CS01.32
First World War fonds


Sending food and items of clothing were just two of the myriad ways in which Canada contributed to the war effort. This booklet briefly details all aspects of Canada’s role in the war up to March 1917. Its sections cover departmental war activities, economic effects, the nickel problem, the Ross rifle, and preparations for after the war. More specific topics – including equipment, censorship, and the work of Canadian women to establish Canadian hospitals overseas – are also described.

Canada's Effort in the Great War to March, 1917

FW WE01.33
First World War fonds


The booklet contains a list of contributions in kind, such as food, clothing, bedding, games and so on. The numbers are remarkable, and they continued to increase as the war progressed.

Canada's Effort in the Great War to March, 1917,
pp. 77 and 78


FW WE01.33
First World War fonds


For most of us, it is impossible to grasp the hardships that soldiers, their families, and their communities had to endure throughout the First World War. As archbishop, McNeil would have had the challenge of dealing with requests from individuals across the country and overseas while thinking about his own friends, colleagues, and family members who had joined the fight. The records highlighted here, as well as many others in ARCAT's collection, bring personal war stories to life and further remind us to be thankful for those people we hold dear.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Record of the Week: The Statue of Liberty

On June 17, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in hundreds of pieces in New York Harbor, ready to be reassembled. The statue was a gift from France in 1884, designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bertholdi. It was officially dedicated (in one piece!) on October 28, 1886, by President Grover Cleveland.

This week's record is a parchment issued by the New York State Council and Knights of Columbus commemorating the gift of the Statue of Liberty to the United States. It shows the deed of gift of the statue; the translation into English of the deed of gift; the lyrics to the sonnet The New Collosus by Emma Lazarus, which was written in 1883 to raise money for the statue's pedestal; the dedication plaque; the invitation to the inauguration; and details about the statue, including the dimensions and weight.

It might seem a bit odd that the Archdiocese of Toronto has a record relating to the Statue of Liberty, but the connection likely lies with Archbishop Lynch. Before he was called to Toronto, Lynch was rector of the Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels (now Niagara University), which he founded in 1856 at Niagara Falls, New York. The parchment is undated, and we do not know who sent it nor to whom it was sent; but Lynch kept in touch with contacts in New York after he left, so it would not be surprising if that is how the parchment arrived in ARCAT's holdings.

AF.010
Artifacts Special Collection




Friday, 9 June 2017

The Citizens of Toronto and Black '47

Today is International Archives Day. This year the theme is Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism. In honour of this event, we wanted to share a story about a time when the citizens of Toronto and the surrounding area of all backgrounds worked together to care for a group of vulnerable newcomers.

1847 was a defining year in the history of our region and the rest of British North America. Across the Atlantic in Ireland, a number of factors including the failure of the potato crop contributed to widespread famine. As many as one million succumbed to hunger and disease, and as many as two million left Ireland to find better circumstances. Of those, approximately 110,000 landed in Canada. For most, their first stop was at Grosse Île near Québec City. Many continued upriver to points such as Montreal, Bytown and Kingston. Approximately 38,560 made it to Toronto in 1847. This number is staggering when you consider that the population of the city at the time was only 20,000. Unfortunately, the Irish emigrants carried with them the Typhus epidemic that had struck at home. Roughly one in six died either on the voyage, in quarantine at Grosse Île, or upon arrival at their destination. This resulted in a problem that Torontonians of all denominations banded together to ameliorate: parentless children.

The city was not caught unawares. The calamity in Ireland was reported in local papers, and even Bishop Power wrote from Europe to ask Toronto Catholics for their prayers and charity. A Board of Health was formed, as well as a Widows and Orphans Committee. A barracks on Bathurst Street was given for use of the widows and orphans in August. The facility began operating in September.

The committee was sure to regularly give recognition to its donors in the Globe. Top of the October 16th, 1847 list of donors to the Emigrant Widows' and Orphans' Fund was The Honorable John Elmsley, a prominent Toronto Catholic, who donated £12. Church of England Bishop John Strachan gave 11 new pairs of shoes. In November Mrs. Justice Jones gave "several articles of new clothing." Mrs. Dr. Beaven gave "new clothing, woollen yarn, unmade drugget, calico, etc." In February 1848 Miss Dawson of Queen Street organized a bazaar to benefit the asylum. The 'Coloured Young Men's Improvement Society' and the International Order of Oddfellows also held events. Donations came from as far away as Uxbridge and Chatham.

In March the secretary of the Committee of the Toronto Destitute Immigrant Widows and Orphans Society reported that the committee resolved,
"That the cordial thanks of this Committee be given to the Committee of and the contributors to the Irish Relief Fund, for the large sum just received from their Treasurer amounting to £633 - together with 140 Barrels of Flour, and 132 Bushels of Wheat, being the Balance in Cash and Provisions, remaining on hand, belonging to said Relief Fund, which munificent contributions will enable the Committee, to continue to afford that shelter and support to the destitute Widows and Orphans, which they would have shortly been obliged to withhold, but for the timely aid so liberally supplied."
The Widows and Orphans Asylum operated until the end of May, 1848. The committee left a report giving details of the previous nine months. Of the 627 who passed through the institution, 129 "went to relatives, found means, and left at own request," and 258 were "placed in a position to earn their own livelihood." The report gives a partial list of placements, and notes that several were given to "Rev. Mr. Kirwan."

Here in the archives, we have a list of some Catholics from Adjala township who were willing to take in orphans. The list was given to Bishop Power by Fr. Kirwin, pastor of St. Paul's. Those on the list were likely motivated by Christian charity, but they would have also benefited from extra help on the farm:

"Robert Keenan of the Township of Adjala called with the Revd. T. Kirwin pastor of the City of Toronto and made the following application for the emigrant orphant children to be sent to the Townships of Adjala and Tecumseth viz as follows."

"I certify that the above named men are of good moral character and of industrious habits and in comfortable circumstances."

April 18, 1848

HO 20.67
ARCAT Holograph Collection

The events of 1847 left an indelible impression on the city. Many citizens, prominent and otherwise, were lost to the Typhus epidemic. Nevertheless, Torontonians and of all backgrounds worked together to care for the destitute who arrived on their doorstep. We pray that we have the courage to continue their tradition of cooperation and selflessness as citizens of Toronto, Canada, and the world.