The strangest riot in Toronto history broke out in the summer of 1855, sparked by a brawl at a King Street brothel. When some rowdy clowns picked a fight with a battle-hardened crew of firefighters, they would quickly learn they’d made a terrible mistake. The circus performers found themselves facing off against Toronto’s powerful Orange Order in a bloody clash that revealed the fault lines that once violently divided our city.
Adam Bunch is an award-winning storyteller who brings the history of Toronto and Canada to life. He’s the author of The Toronto Book of the Dead and The Toronto Book of Love, the host of the Canadiana documentary series, and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project.
Join us February 2, 2023, 7 pm on Zoom for a presentation on Mackenzie Bowell by Ted Glenn. Zoom details will be included later in January.
When Mackenzie Bowell became Canada’s fifth prime minister in December 1894, everyone — including Bowell — expected the job would involve nothing more than keeping the wheels on the Conservative wagon until a spring election.
Plans for a quiet caretakership were dashed in January 1895 when the courts ruled that the Manitoba government had violated Roman Catholics’ constitutional rights by abolishing the provincial separate school system. Catholics in Quebec demanded that Bowell force Manitoba to restore the schools, while Ontario Protestants warned him to keep his hands off.
Backed into a corner, Bowell tried three times to negotiate a compromise with the Manitoba government over the course of 1895, but to no avail. By January 1896, seven of Bowell’s cabinet ministers had had enough. Convinced that Bowell had tarnished the Conservative brand, the caballers forced the prime minister to resign and make way for a new leader, who they believed could revive party fortunes in time for the coming election—the old Warhorse of Cumberland, Sir Charles Tupper.
Ultimately, the coup didn’t matter. Tupper and his conspirators pleaded their case in Parliament and on the hustings, but nothing could stand in the way of Wilfrid Laurier and his Liberals’ historic rise to power in the June 1896 election.
A Very Canadian Coup brings fresh sources and new perspectives to bear on the life and times of Canada’s fifth prime minister and his Sixth Ministry.
Ted Glenn is a professor at Humber College and writes about Canadian government and history. He divides his time between Toronto and Grey County.
Please Note: This event will be on Zoom, not in person. It is open to the public but advance signup is required as follows:
Provide your name and email address on the registration page
You will receive a confirmation email from Zoom (on our behalf) with information about joining the meeting on February 2nd. Please do not share this information
Zoom login information (including passcodes) will NOT be posted on Facebook or on this website.