John Goddard is a former magazine writer and Toronto Star reporter with a curiosity for little-known Ontario wonders. His books include Inside the Museums and, with TV’s Richard Crouse, Rock and Roll Toronto, a cheeky guide to the city’s rock and roll historic sites. He lives in Toronto.
Inside the Museums
Heritage Toronto Book Award — Shortlisted, Non-Fiction Book
Illuminates Toronto’s early history through its small heritage museums.
A portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie stares from a mural at Queen subway station, his face as round and orange as a wheel of cheese. He served as Toronto’s first mayor, led the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, and was grandfather to William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth prime minister, whose own orange-pink visage graces the Canadian fifty-dollar bill. Three blocks from the station, Mackenzie died in the upstairs bedroom of a house now open as a heritage museum, part of a network of such homes and sites from early Toronto. Inside the Museums tells their stories. It explains why Eliza Gibson risked her life to save a clock, reveals the appalling instructions that Robert Baldwin left in his will, and examines how the career of postmaster James Scott Howard shattered on the most baseless of innuendos at one of the most highly charged moments in the city’s history.
Goddard doesn’t just draw the reader in; he walks us through each of the ten sites, building-by-building and room-by-room. When he writes of the Mackenzie House he allows readers to envision the most intimate details of the Mackenzie family’s lives…[Goddard] provides detailed stories that make for enjoyable reading.
Focussing on power struggles and social histories, Goddard explores a connected network of properties that embody the spirit of 19th century Toronto, while also considering their impact on Torontonians today. Through humour, excitement, and tragedy, Inside the Museums will quickly persuade readers to embark on their own historical pilgrimage of this culturally rich city.
This is an excellent resource, clearly written and organized, for those intending to explore the places whose histories and mysteries are detailed here, both as visit preparation and also to take along as enriching accompaniment…