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Visiting the Heritage Trail mural at 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario: Elizabeth Simcoe sees the Bluffs, c.1793

Updated on November 16, 2013
Privincial flag of Ontario
Privincial flag of Ontario | Source
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793, mural by Risto Turunen, 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793, mural by Risto Turunen, 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario | Source
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793, mural by Risto Turunen, 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793, mural by Risto Turunen, 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793, mural by Risto Turunen, 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793, mural by Risto Turunen, 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario | Source
Elizabeth Simcoe in 1790, by Mary Anne Burges
Elizabeth Simcoe in 1790, by Mary Anne Burges | Source

Familiar names in their historical background

On August 4, 1793, or thereabouts, Elizabeth Simcoe (1762-1850), wife of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, was sailing on Lake Ontario, some miles east of the settlement of York. She spied shoreline features which to her seemed rather familiar,though she was seeing them for the first time.

Elizabeth Simcoe was from Yorkshire, England, and the enormous cliffs at Scarborough, facing the often tempestuous North Sea, were a familiar, local feature during her youth (1).

The Bluffs, which the small boat party is recorded as having sighted on or about August 4, 1793, are similarly high and craggy, their whitish colour sometimes reflecting much light. It is this sighting which is historically credited as the reason why Scarborough, Ontario — now within Toronto — first got its name. "The shore is extremely bold and has the appearance of chalk cliffs...we talked of building a summer residence there and calling it Scarborough" (2), Elizabeth Simcoe is recorded as commenting. The striking Bluffs thus gave their name, granted by Upper Canada's Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe in honour of his wife's recollection of Scarborough, Yorkshire, to the settlement and subsequent town and city now known as Scarborough.

To mark this significant, local historical event, artist Risto Turunen (3) painted the very large mural at 2384 Kingston Road, Scarborough, in 1992, ready for the bicentennial of the original naming of the Bluffs.

This painting forms part of the Heritage Trail series of murals, which commemorate significant events in the history of the local area. It would seem very obvious therefore that, since the Scarborough Bluffs are one of Ontario's most distinct and conspicuous geographical features, and since Scarborough is one of the Province's major localities, then these factors underscore the historical significance of what Risto Turunen's mural commemorates.

In addition my own photos of the mural, I have included (right) a photo of a portrait of Elizabeth Simcoe, painted in 1790 by Mary Anne Burges (1763-1813).

November 16, 2013

Notes

(1) One distinction, however, between the Scarborough Bluffs, Ontario and the cliffs at Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, is the fact that Lake Ontario is not subject to tidal erosion (although the seiche is present on Lake Ontario and wind erosion is also a factor). Along the east coast of England, tidal erosion has caused deep inroads into coastal features in recent centuries and decades.

(2) See also: http://www.muralroutes.com/towns/heritagetrail/heritage.htm

(3) Risto Turunen is an artist currently based in Surrey, British Columbia. He has also specialized in drawing animations. His background has included studies at Sheridan College. (See also: http://www.ristoturunen.com/?cat=6 )

Map location of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario | Source

Also worth seeing

In addition to the nearby murals at 2340 and 2348 Kingston Road, other murals on Kingston Road include: 'Scarborough Rifle Co.' at No.1577, 'Half Way House' at 2502 and 'In the Way of Progress' at 2835, among others.

Thomson Memorial Park , Scarborough (distance: approx. 6 kilometres); significant, 19th century buildings are preserved as a museum.

How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to the area of the mural at 2384 Kingston Road: approx. 40 kilometres). However, visitors may prefer to use the TTC public transit: services to the area include the #12 bus. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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