Friday 3 June 2016

Record of the Week: Cardinal McGuigan Gets the Key to the City

One of the best parts of being an archivist is opening a box you've never looked in before and finding something cool. Last week we found a key about the length of hand. As it turns out, we were holding the key to the City of Toronto.

After some research, we were disappointed that the key wouldn't allow us to walk into the mayor's office. In fact, it is a ceremonial key that was given to Cardinal McGuigan at a city reception upon his return from his elevation to the cardinalate in March 1946.

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Archbishop McGuigan's elevation wasn't important only to Catholics; the whole city was proud that the first English-speaking Canadian cardinal was from Toronto. 75,000 people lined the streets to greet him when he arrived at Union Station on the train from Halifax. The band from De La Salle Oaklands played for him, and the Catholic school children had a day off. There were receptions at City Hall and Queens Park, and a few days later there was an event at Maple Leaf Gardens attended by 15,000. The city newspapers covered his trip to Rome, his journey home, his arrival, and the celebrations.

An illuminated address presented to Cardinal McGuigan by the City Council explains the feelings of Torontonians:

"Like all men of genius, your Eminence has found your own road and carried your own lamp along the pathway of life to the goal and zenith of your ambition. Through piety, self-denial and stern discipline of intellect, your Eminence has striven unceasingly to make the best use of those remarkable natural talents, bestowed upon your Eminence by the gift of Providence."

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Cardinal McGuigan is presented with the above illuminated address by Mayor Robert Saunders.

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ARCAT Photo Collection
Photo credit: Globe & Mail
People line the streets with flags and banners to welcome His Eminence home.

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ARCAT Photo Collection
Photo credit: Globe & Mail
Large crowds are gathered at City Hall to receive the new Cardinal.

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ARCAT Photo Collection

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