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March 9, 2009
Mayor David Miller takes some candid advice from former Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie during Torontos 175th anniversary
Maria Szkaradzinski brought her daughter Kathy to City Hall for the Citys 175th anniversary celebrations to learn a bit about politics and to be entertained. They got a bit of both Friday evening.

They enjoyed the exhibits and music during the evening festivities at City Hall. But the highlight for the mother-daughter duo was a special performance in the Council Chamber with an exchange of views from two Mayors todays David Miller and a voice from the past, William Lyon Mackenzie (played by actor Eric Peterson) as they compared the challenges of Toronto in 1834 to today. Curator R.H. Thompson prepared Mayor Miller and Peterson for the event.

I brought Kathy here to show her how the City works . . . it was my first chance to see what goes on in the Council Chamber, said Szkaradzinski who emigrated to Canada from Poland in 1981 and moved to Toronto five years ago.

I thought it was a good idea to address of lot of issues in a comedy form, said Kathy, a high school senior.

They enjoyed the spirited discussion as Miller and Mackenzie talked about challenges new and old. After 175 years, most of it dead of course, I could learn a thing or two, Mackenzie said.

You have to keep in mind Mackenzie was one of the leaders of the 1837 rebellion against British rule. Miller noted that today the idea of trying to take over by force is not en vogue. Things have changed . . . our leaders today dont lead a rebellion up Yonge Street. Mackenzie countered, Have you tried?

Miller did present a modern day issue, challenges with the Island airport, and asked for Mackenzies suggestion on how to address it. Yes, said Mackenzie, we (the people) get our picks and axes and occupy the place.

The age-old politician did have some observations of the job to share. Most of the job is about real problems and what you do about real problems, said Mackenzie.

The crowd laughed all the way through the performances, which put a smile on the face of Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, Chair of the Toronto 175 Steering Committee. I had expectations (for this event) but they were blown out of the water (with the events success). It has been like a birthday party where everybody got along.

Its difficult for Toronto to feel good about itself sometimes, Pantalone said. We want to get better as a city, but sometimes we just have to let loose and celebrate.

The 100 plus people who packed into The Bohemian Embassy Revival held in the City Hall branch of the Toronto Public Library celebrated in a different way; listening to a mix of poetry readings, reflections, and a bit of humour. People used to ask me if I was a beatnik, said reader George Miller. I said No man.

The Rotunda was the site of the official Opening Ceremonies for the 175th on Friday evening, with welcoming remarks coming from Mayor Miller and Deputy Mayor Pantalone. They were followed by musical acts like Yoshi and Chie that had people dancing on the Rotunda floor.

It was also a day where the average Torontonian was able to have a minute of the Mayors time for a quick hello or a photo, which was the case for 65 Irish Canadians who came to celebrate their heritage, have a picture with the Mayor and celebrate the launch of a new book: A Story To Be Told: The Irish Immigrant Experience in Canada? covering the time period of 1940-1990.

(In Canada) We think of the brain drain to the U.S., but Ireland lost a lot of its youth and they came here, said book editor and Torontonian Eleanor McGrath. People referred to the other America. It was Canada . . . these are people who helped build this city.

Throughout the day the City profiled interesting, candid moments from the event. They were written by Rob Andrusevich from the City's Strategic Communications Division. Rob is a former newspaper reporter.



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