Sunday, May 31, 2015

Alternate Cities: Vimy Circle

Cities are like books.  They tell the story of the rise and fall of civilizations and nations.  Consider Babylon, or Rome at its imperial peak. Look at London at the peak of the British Empire, or New York right now.  The streets, buildings, and monuments that are planned and built are a testimony not only to the power, but to time and place, as well.

But sometimes what speaks just as loudly is what does not get built.

Case in point is the planned but never built Vimy Circle, in the city I live, Toronto.  In the aftermath of the Great War, a radical realignment was planned for the city’s grand thoroughfare, University Avenue, with a giant traffic circle and a column-like monument to Canada’s victory at Vimy Ridge at its hub.  Part and parcel of the City Beautiful movement, a ring of monumental buildings bordering Vimy Circle was also envisioned.  To top it off, a series of new streets radiating out from the circle were to be named after other Great War battles.

A look at the current street map of Toronto shows that Vimy Circle and its environs remained unbuilt.  The Great Depression got in the way and suddenly the people of Toronto grew wary of an expensive megaproject.  And so all we have left of Vimy Circle are these two contemporary illustrations to give an idea of what might’ve been.

Toronto artist Mathew Borrett has produced an updated version of what Vimy Circle might look like today. For copyright reasons I can’t show the image, but here’s a link.

Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.   Thanks.

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