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Toronto With A Bang

Richard Lautens/Staff Photographer

I love Simcoe Day in Toronto.  It's an odd thing to say I know as I suspect most people in Toronto don't even know that the civic holiday on August 1 is named after our first Lieutenent-Governor, John Graves Simcoe.  I did study history at the University of Toronto for 5 years so I declare my bias off the top.

I love that on Simcoe Day there is no obligation to do anything-no gifts, no dinners, no ceremonies-really just a chance to enjoy summer.  That being said, I do like the fact that Toronto hasn't abandoned all of it's history  in it's rush to be 'World Class'.  We have an interesting and varried history and unfortunately too few people know anything about it.

I took this past Simcoe Day as an opportunity to revisit Fort York for a little history lesson and some pomp and circumstance.  Our current L-G David Onley was there to speak and his theme was how Toronto, then called York, was the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to outlaw slavery.  This is no small claim to fame and was done by Simcoe himself. There was the usual talk of battles and life in the 17 and 1800's and being around that environment, you could almost smell the gunpowder-actually you could smell the gunpowder as there were lots of firepower displays.

It sure was hot that day and most people cowered in the shade.  There were lots of things to photograph of course.  I was dry roasted after 4 or 5 hours in the 30+ cloudless day but was rewared with some cool pix.

Gunner Robert Gordon covers his ears as he helps demonstrate the firing of a 6 pound gun.

The fife and drums lead the soldiers onto the parade grounds.

A soldier waits to go on parade.

Liam Aldcroft, 8, stands guard with his wooden musket along the wall of the fort.

Matthew Wickson, a historical interpreter dressed as an 8th regimental grenadier puts kids through some drills.

Felix Abbot, 6, takes part in a mock bayonet charge with other kids.

Ontario L-G David Onley reviews members of the Queen's Own Rifles at the event.

One of the soldiers takes a shot.

Some of the soldiers on parade held a comrade who had passed out due to the heat.

A soldier fires his musket as the smoke and fire comes out of the pan.  This is the one picture I had wanted going into the day-a long lens, shallow depth of field and a lot of running around made it happen.  It's looks fake to me somehow.

A big gun makes a big BOOM!





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Terrific photos Richard - as usual.

The regiment shown in picture #7 is not the Queen's Own Rifles it is the Queen's York Rangers.

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