Posts Tagged ‘politics’
The Globe and Mail‘s Jeff Gray reports on how Toronto’s first black city councilor is finally going to be honoured with a park.
Between 1893 and 1913, Mr. Hubbard – a child of freed slaves who fled Virginia to farm in Upper Canada in 1837 – would serve the city as an alderman (what we now call city councillors), and also vice-chairman of a powerful cabinet-like body called the board of control, a position second only to the mayor. He also served as acting mayor.
Revered as council’s “Cicero” for his speeches, he became a leading civic figure, representing a white, wealthy ward. He was also a successful businessman in the city, at a time when black people were banned from many restaurants. But his skin colour was barely given a mention in The Globe’s accounts of the time.
This weekend, politicians, community groups and Hubbard descendants from across Canada and the United States will christen Hubbard Park, a green space in front of the old Don Jail that is now part of Bridgepoint hospital, at Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street East. The park’s name was voted on by local residents, and it is not far from where Mr. Hubbard lived in a grand home on Broadview Avenue.
His memory was neglected for years. When the city government abandoned Old City Hall for New City Hall in 1965, a grand portrait of Mr. Hubbard that had graced the walls of the old building for years was left in a storage room until 1976, when a new interest in black history was emerging. (Since the late 1980s, the city has also issued an award for activists in his name.)
That portrait hangs in the office of Toronto’s only sitting black councillor, Scarborough’s Michael Thompson, but even he had never heard of Mr. Hubbard until he began researching his story while working as a political aide at city hall in the late 1990s.