This feature appears in the current print edition of Spacing magazine, summer 2013. Buy it on newsstands now.
There has been the occasional chatter of Toronto opening its own bank (or even forming it’s own province), but Spacing has taken that thought one step further. What if Toronto were its own republic with its own currency? We challenged graphic artist Marc Ngui to explore the possibilities.
DOWNLOAD: We’ve created a PDF of the bills for your amusement. Please note the bills are not legal tender.
BUY AS FRIDGE MAGNETS: We’ve converted the front of the bills into thin fridge magnets. Buy them now.
The main figure in the Republic of Toronto’s $5 bill is R.C. Harris. He is considered one of the city’s most important and visionary city builders for creating integral pieces of civic infrastructure, such as the Prince Edward Viaduct (opened 1918), which was constructed with a built-in carriage for a subway line that wouldn’t be in use until 1966. The R.C. Harris water filtration plant, at the foot of Victoria Park Avenue, was the most advanced purification facility in North America when it opened and made Toronto a world leader in public health. DESIGN FEATURE: The current Toronto flag is used in the background of each of the bills, along with maple leaves.
William Lyon MacKenzie was elected the City of Toronto’s first mayor in 1834 and adorns our $10 bill. In his early years in Upper Canada, he was a publisher of the Colonial Advocate and a staunch reformer who worked to unseat Toronto’s established Family Compact. In his post-mayoral years, he would start another newspaper, The Constitution, and eventually lead a rebellion in 1837 in which his supporters marched down Yonge Street only to be met and quelled by British soldiers. After years of living in exile in the United States (1838-1849) he returned to Toronto and kept up his rabble-rousing ways until he died in 1861 at his home at 82 Bond Street. He is buried in the Toronto Necropolis cemetery just north of Cabbagetown. DESIGN FEATURE: All of the words and numbers are displayed in the font used by the TTC on subway station platform walls
This bill features June Callwood one of Canada’s most prominent female journalists in both print and television. Her work often focused on social justice issues, especially pertaining to the rights of women and children. A laneway near Broadview Avenue and Queen Street East is named after her. June Callwood Park, just south of Fort York, is a children-themed park, set to open in 2013.
Thornton Blackburn and his wife Lucie were escaped slaves from Louisville, Kentucky, who eventually settled in Toronto after a harrowing journey through the Underground Railroad. Their heroism more than earns them a place on our $50 bill. In 1837, Blackburn built and operated his own red and yellow box cab named “The City,” which was drawn by a single horse and able to carry four passengers. The Thorntons were active in the anti-slavery movement and helped other escaped slaves settle in Toronto and other Ontario towns.
illustrations by Marc Ngui