Particles & Waves

By EdwardFenner

Mackenzie House, kitchen gaslight, 1858

William Lyon Mackenzie was a notable figure in Canadian history for many reasons. An immigrant from Scotland, he set up a printing business, was a member of Parliament, and the first mayor of Toronto. He was also the leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 (aka the Mackenzie Rebellion) - an ill-advised and poorly planned attempt to overthrow the government of the day (which, arguably, rather deserved it). The plot failed and he was exiled to the USA for 13 years. Later pardoned, his supporters (and there were many) bought him this townhouse (built c.1858) for him and his family. He lived there until his death three years later. Some believe his ghost still haunts the place. Also of interest, he was the grandfather of a future prime minister: William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada's longest-serving PM and whose image is on the current $50 bill.

The kitchen light you see here was originally fueled by coal gas but is now fueled by natural gas. It burns cleaner than coal gas but, regardless, the flame is still a hazard and is only lit for demonstration purposes during tours. The glass deflectors are typical of the fixture and help protect the ceiling from the flame.

I have visited this historic home twice before over the decades but I took advantage of the free admission all month (and at various Toronto Museums) to see it once again. Mackenzie Financial Investments is footing the bill as their contribution to Canada 150 celebrations (and the firm's 50th).

Sign in or get an account to comment.