The City, the Country, and Toronto's Bloor Viaduct, 1897-1919

By Murnaghan, Ann Marie F. | Urban History Review, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

The City, the Country, and Toronto's Bloor Viaduct, 1897-1919


Murnaghan, Ann Marie F., Urban History Review


There are certain structures in cities that exemplify the grandiose designs of the city builders at the turn of the twentieth century. The Prince Edward or Bloor Viaduct is one of these structures crossing Toronto's key landform, the Don Valley, immortalized in Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion. Plans to build the bridge emerged as early as i-897, although the construction did not begin until 1913. The Bloor Viaduct can help us consider the progressive era by examining how discussions ofnature/culture and country/city were incorporated into the discourses of its planning and construction. Technically, the bridge was an engineeringfeat spanning three valleys, making east-west travel in the growing city more efficient, improving the transportation offood and lumber. Symbolically, this monument highlighted the ability to overcome nature with a bridge and bring an aestheticized nature to the city. This contradiction between overcoming and improving access to nature is built into the bridge's planning and construction history. By exploring the symbolic and material aspects of this bridge, the contradictions of nature in the process ofnation building appear more striking.

Il existe certaines structures urbaines qui illustrent les conceptions grandioses des beitisseurs de villes du tournant du XX' siecle. Toronto, le viaduc Prince Edward ou Bloor, qui en est un exemple, traverse la vallie de la riviere Don, l'un des elements topogra-phiques des de Toronto, immortalise par In the Skin of a Lion de Michael Ondaatje's. Les plans de construction de ce viaduc out ete developpes 4 partir de 1997, mime Si la construction n'a commence qu'en 1913. Le cas du viaduc Bloor nous permet de considerer La mentalite progressiste de cette epoque en nous donnant aced.; la facon dont les discours de l'epoque sur le rapport entre nature et culture et campagne et ville, se sont integres dans les discours entourant la planOcation de sa construction. Sur le plan technique, le viaduc etait un exploit d'inginierie enjambant trois wallies, qui facilitait la circulation entre rest et l'ouest de la yille, ainsi que ricbange des denries alimentaires et du bois de construction. Symboliquement, ce monument illustre l.a capacite des batisseurs de maitriser la nature a vaide d'un pont et ainsi de crier sine image esthetisee de la nature an sein de la ville. Les plans et la construction de ce viaduc intigrent cette contradiction entre la maitrise de la nature et lamelioration de son accessibilite. L'exploration du symbolisme et des aspects materiels de ce monument rend d'autant plus remarquables les contradictions a regard de la nature dans le processus de construction de la nation.

Introduction

The bridge goes up in a dream. It will link the east end with the centre of the city. It will carry traffic, water, and electricity across the Don Valley. It will carry trains that have not even been invented yet.

Night and day. Fall light. Snow light. They are always working--horses and wagons and men arriving for work on the Danforth side at the far end of the valley.

There are over 4,000 photographs from various angles of the bridge in its time-lapse evolution. The piers sink into bedrock fifty feet below the surface through clay and shale and quicksand-45,000 cubic yards of earth are excavated. The network of scaffolding stretches up.

Men in a maze of wooden planks climb deep into the shattered light of blond wood. A man is an extension of hammer, drill, flame. Drill smoke in his hair. A cap falls into the valley, gloves are buried in stone dust.--Michael Ondaatje (1)

Michael Ondaatje's novel In the Skin of a Lion vividly describes how class, gender, and natal origins are lived, and how the lives imagined from these origins enrich our understanding of the human experience in place. (2) Ondaatje uses an astounding amount of historical data to set this novel in Toronto in the progressive era of the early twentieth century. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The City, the Country, and Toronto's Bloor Viaduct, 1897-1919
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.