Plaque to the right of the entranceway to the Old City Hall, Queen St. West and Bay St., Toronto

Thousands of visitors to the Old City Hall pass this plaque, obscured in the entranceway, without noticing that it records William Lyon Mackenzie as Toronto’s first mayor when the city was incorporated in 1834. The names of Mackenzies city council also appear. In that year the mayor was confronted with a disastrous cholera epidemic which swept the city. He participated directly in the emergency measures taken, and was responsible for initiating social measures in the field of public works and education.

Controversy continues about the naming of Toronto’s official civic holiday, the first Monday in August, which is currently named Simcoe Day, after Upper Canada’s first lieutenant-governor, John Graves Simcoe, whose Tory vision of the colony’s future laid the foundations for what later became the notorious Family Compact. Critics say Simcoe does not deserve this recognition and propose that the holiday be designated as Mackenzie Day after the first mayor.