In nineteenth-century Toronto, people took to the streets to express their jubilation on special occasions, such as the 1860 visit of the Prince of Wales and the return in 1885 of the local Volunteers who helped to suppress the Riel resistance in the North-West. In a contrasting mood, people also took to the streets in anger to object to government measures, such as the Rebellion Losses bill, to heckle rival candidates in provincial election campaigns, to assert their ethno-religious differences, and to support striking workers.
Expressive Acts examines instances of both celebration and protest when Torontonians publicly displayed their allegiances, politics, and values. The book illustrates not just the Victorian city’s vibrant public life but also the intense social tensions and cultural differences within the city. Drawing from journalists’ accounts in newspapers, Expressive Acts illuminates what drove Torontonians to claim public space, where their passions lay, and how they gave expression to them.