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Visiting the mural 'In the Way of Progress', Scarborough, Ontario: artistic memories of transportation changes

Updated on July 29, 2011
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
The 'In the Way of Progress' mural, 2835 Kingston Road, Scarborough
The 'In the Way of Progress' mural, 2835 Kingston Road, Scarborough | Source
The former Scarborough High School (now RH King Academy), depicted in the mural
The former Scarborough High School (now RH King Academy), depicted in the mural | Source
Map location of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario | Source

Artistically capturing the past on a large scale

The mural art displayed on many buildings in Kingston Road, in Toronto's East End constitute an instructive exercise in remembering local history, in its varied aspects. Many of these murals have been managed by Mural Routes, Inc, in the Heritage Trail series.

Situated at 2835 Kingston Road, Scarborough, near the corner of Eastville Avenue, is a mural entitled 'In the Way of Progress'. The artists responsible for this fine mural were Phil, Jennifer and Jamie Richards, and the work was completed in July 1996. This particular mural was a project of the Scarborough Bicentennial, and was initiated by the Cliffcrest Community Association.

Various transportation means may be seen depicted in this mural. A horse-drawn waggon is seen to the left of the picture. In the middle of the picture, but still somewhat in the background, is a new looking (albeit in 'old' style) truck, the obvious gas-powering of which has replaced the horse-drawn power of the waggon, to the left of the picture.

The most striking method of transportation seen in the mural, however, is the radial car (or streetcar) seen on a very large scale. The car power lines can be clearly seen near the top of the mural. Cars such as these on various radial routes were very much a feature of transportation in the Toronto area in the early 20th century, when the mural is clearly set (1).

The early 20th century transition of Scarborough from a rural to an urban road environment is typified by the presence of a large cow in the foreground of the picture.

Also included in the mural, to the left of the painting, is a substantial part of the former Scarborough High School (now known as the R H King Academy, named for a former Principal), which was opened in 1922. This local landmark was partly demolished and considerably rebuilt some decades later, but enough of the style of the original building still remains for it to be easily recognizable from the mural in a contemporary photograph which I have also included.

A number of people are depicted in the mural. Some of the clothes bear testimony to changing fashions, in relation to those of the early 21st century. The peaked cap of the streetcar ticket collector seems definitely dated. The clothes, including the hat, worn by the lady holding the hand of a child, are broadly typical of the 1920s, although in some ways it may be said that styles have in a measure come full circle. In the 1960s, the era of the very short skirt, this lady's attire would have been regarded as 'old fashioned'. Although this impression of her style as painted by the artists would still be true, it would possibly not seem as acute as during the minimalist 1960s.


(1) Readers interesting in further researching the history of streetcars in Ontario may be interested in visiting the Halton County Radial Railway and Streetcar Museum, at Milton, Ontario.

Also worth seeing

St Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough (distance: 0.9 kilometres) dates from 1913 and its distinguished by Beaus-Arts features, with a striking dome.

Cornell House and McCowan Log House (distance: 5.1 kilometres), depicting early settler life, are situated at the Scarborough Historical Museum , in Scarborough's Thomson Memorial Park

Ashbridge Estate , Toronto (distance: 9.9 kilometres), situated on Queen Street, East, contains a gracious property which stands at the centre of the estate dates from the mid-19th century.


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: approx. 41.0 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. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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


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