90th commemoration

Mayor William Stewart

Mayor William Stewart

Played by Jerome Bourgault

William Stewart is Toronto’s Protestant mayor in 1933. While he is proud of his British heritage, Mayor Stewart is also sympathetic to the plight and persecution of the Jewish community in Toronto. When rumours begin to emerge about potential ‘trouble’ at the ballgame, he instructs his Chief of Police to send as many officers as he can spare. Instead, Chief Draper sent only 6 officers… so 2 days after the riot Chief Draper was fired, and Mayor Stewart banned and outlawed the “Swastika” Clubs.

Historical Context

In the early 1900s, many new immigrants began arriving in Toronto, including Jews and Italians. These immigrants were drawn here because of new work opportunities in manufacturing, mining, and lumber. Many were also fleeing political upheaval and persecution in their home countries. Despite their arrival, by the 1930s, over half the city population was still of British descent. For this reason, Toronto was given the nickname the “Belfast of Canada.” The nickname reflected the city’s religious makeup, but also reflected the political dominance of the Orange Order. The Orange Order was a Protestant group in Canada that was founded in Ireland in 1795 and made its way to British North America in the early 1800s.  The Orange Order was very influential within Toronto politics: until the early 1950s, just about every mayor was a member. As a result, the city’s politics reflected the order’s beliefs, which were often anti-Catholic and antisemitic.