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Reading inspiration: Tales of Toronto

  • Submitted: 18th October 2012

As I have travelled around the world, I, like a lot of people, have bought the odd guide book of the city or country I’m in. But I really prefer to immerse myself fully in the real story of a city – its people and its history.  Therefore, the first book I bought in Canada – ‘50 Tales of Toronto’ was my guide book, and it took me to some very interesting parts of the city that I might not have discovered were it not for this book. Reading inspiration: Tales of Toronto was born.

One such place was the  the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Not perhaps where you think of visiting, but I’m so pleased I did:

Tales of Toronto

Mount Pleasant and MacKenzie King

Mackenzie King was the tenth and longest serving prime minister of Canada.

In the space of a few years, this great Canadian figure suffered immeasurable tragedy as his older sister, father and mother all died.

But it was the story of his brother Max that gave me an insight into these early Canadian’s lives. For Max was Mackenzie’s closest friend and confidante as well as being as strong figure in his own right. His gravestone reveals a interesting but little known story:

It is in the ornate style of Louis Pasteur. Max had studied medicine and had joined the army in the medical corps. After his return home, he became ill with tuberculosis as he was  about to open a medical practice in Ottawa. However, as he recovered, he decided to write a book called ‘The War of Tuberculosis and how to win it’ to help others like himself returning from war and suffering from the illness he himself had beaten.

His inspiration to others was an inspiration to his own brother who had the gravestone built as a lasting memorial to his dear brother.  He had seen the same devotion that Louis Paster had shown for the medical profession, evident in Max. The ornate gravestone in Mount Pleasant has a lovely story of brotherly love and admiration behind it.

Despite himself being the more well-known of the brothers, Mackenzie King showed another show of admiration for his brother even in his own death – his grave stone is the most plain of the two and only bears his name.

A story of two great Canadian figures whose story of brotherly love and respect brought me to a part of the city and of the story of Toronto that I may not have discovered without this book.

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