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5 random facts about Toronto to help you win at trivia

Posted by Chris Bateman / June 27, 2014

Toronto triviaDid you know Toronto has hosted an Olympics in the last 40 years, or that one of the first street maps of the city was engraved by a precocious 13-year-old? Well, now you do. This city is a treasure trove of interesting tidbits. After all, it's the spiritual home of the Whoopie Cushion, Canada Dry ginger ale, and 5-pin bowling.

We've already posted about 10 quirky things you might not know about Toronto and followed that up with more local curiosities, but there's just so many random and interesting things to know about our city. Keep these and other facts in mind if you're a local trivia type.Heritage Toronto is hosting a series of trivia nights this summer. Hogtown Trivia runs on the second Tuesday of every month, June to September, at the Gladstone Hotel. The remaining dates this term are: July 8th, Aug 12th, Sept 9th, and the proceeds from the $5 cover support Heritage Toronto programs.

Here are 5 fascinating Toronto facts that are sure to bolster your trivia knowledge even further.

TORONTO HOSTED THE 1976 PARALYMPICS

toronto olympiadIt's true, while Montreal was grabbing international attention for hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics, Toronto was quietly hosting the counterpart paralympics. Branded that year as the "Torontolympiad - 1976 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled," some 1,600 people from 40 countries participated in some seriously low-budget events.

No facilities were constructed for the games so the opening ceremony took place at Woodbine Racetrack. Athletes were housed in student dorms at York University, University of Toronto, and rooms at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Events like archery, goalball, and swimming were held at Centennial Park.

The decision to allow apartheid South Africa to compete in the Torontolympiad stirred controversy and a number of countries staged a boycott.

Canada finished sixth in the medal table behind Great Britain, earning 25 gold, 26 silver, and 26 bronze.

TWO TORONTO MAYORS HAVE DIED IN OFFICE

Sam McBride, the first mayor of Toronto to die in office, was the city's chief magistrate for the founding of the Toronto Transit Commission and the squashing of plans for a tunnel to the Toronto Island. A famously cranky, McBride once threw a can of beans at a fellow alderman during a heated debate in the council chamber. He died aged 70 in the first year of his second term as mayor.

"Don Summerville died trying to be nice to people," Toronto Telegram columnist Frank Tumpane lamented in 1963 following the sudden death of the mayor. Summerville, a hard-working former Maple Leafs practice goalie, was playing in a charity hockey match at George Bell Arena in aid of Italian flood victims when he was forced to quit early, complaining of fatigue. He died minutes later of the second heart attack of his life in the locker room aged just 48.

THE FIRST MAP OF TORONTO WAS MADE BY A 13-YEAR-OLD

toronto todd engravingYoung Alphaeus Todd was barely a teenager when he produced one of the first street maps of early Toronto. By walking the town and converting his paces to a fixed scale, Todd managed to produce a remarkably functional map of the area south of Queen (then Lot) between Parliament and Peter streets.

For his efforts, prominent lawyer and member of parliament Robert Baldwin Sullivan convinced his counterparts to pay Todd and give him a job in the legislative library, thus beginning Todd's prolific career as a librarian and owner of some of the best sideburns in local history.

AMELIA EARHART GOT AN EARLY TASTE OF FLYING HERE

Everybody knows how the Earhart story ends, but what most people don't know is the famous aviator has Toronto connections. Earhart's sister Muriel lived here in 1918 and it was it during a visit to Toronto that the 21-year-old Amelia witnessed the city's war wounded.

"One day when we strolled down King Street, three soldiers on crutches approached us. All three had lost a leg. The poignant sight deeply affected Amelia; she had seen nothing like it in our country," Muriel recalled in a 1987 autobiography.

Earhart studied nursing at the Spadina Military Hospital and tended to injured soldiers during the final months of the first world war. She first saw airplanes at one of Toronto's airfields, but it wasn't until she had recovered from a bout of Spanish Flu and moved to California that Earhart first climbed into the cockpit of a plane.

RICK JAMES AND NEIL YOUNG WERE BANDMATES IN TORONTO

The Mynah Birds never released an album, but the R&B group's line-up reads like a classic supergroup: Neil Young, Rick James, Goldy McJohn, Nick St. Nicholas, and more. The group was bankrolled by John Craig Eaton, of the family behind Eaton's department store, and famous locally for their surreal and electrifying gigs.

"Neil would stop playing lead, do a harp solo, throw the harmonica way up in the air and Ricky would catch it and continue the solo," authorized Neil Young biographer Jimmy McDonough wrote in his book Shakey.

The group hit the skids when James, AWOL from the U.S. Navy, was arrested. "We thought he was Canadian," Palmer is quoted as saying in the book. "Even though there are no Negroes in Canada."

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Images: Ronnie Yip, Toronto Star, A5, July 22, 1976; "Plan of the City of Toronto, Capital of Upper Canada, by Master Alpheus Todd, No. 35 Newgate Street, Toronto, Opposite the Brewery," 1834, Toronto Public Library, T1834/4Msm. Winearls, MUC no. 2067.

Discussion

7 Comments

Byrd / June 27, 2014 at 11:44 am
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Cool - my dad was a bit of a fixture on the scene in Toronto in the 60s. Growing up he used to tell me about the Mynah Birds. Lots of music history happened in Toronto. Most people don't seem to know much about it other than the bands that went to America and made it big.
Sam / June 27, 2014 at 01:00 pm
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Isnt that the only reason were still discusding Mynah Birds is because its members went on to become famous? Otherwise theyd just be anothet Toronto band that came and went like so many others...... Either way an interesting article
DavidC / June 27, 2014 at 03:48 pm
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Minor typo in a great article. It's ALPHEUS TODD. (Not, Alphaeus Todd )
Designer Girl / June 27, 2014 at 04:30 pm
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I believe that that Neil Young and Rick James were bandmates is the point of the blurb. Had they been in separate Toronto bands wouldn't be as interesting.
W. K. Lis / June 27, 2014 at 08:36 pm
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I'm assuming that Alphaeus Todd was much, much older than 13 when he grew his "best sideburns in local history"?
SK replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / June 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm
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I'm assuming that your assumption is correct :)
scottd / June 28, 2014 at 01:46 am
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Don Summerville's death showed there was confusion regarding the different city ambulances and his death led to the Metro level of government.

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