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Driving down the western side of Queen’s Park Crescent, I’ve noticed a large monument near the Wellesley bridge

Dear Urban Decoder: Driving down the western side of Queen’s Park Crescent, I’ve noticed a large monument near the Wellesley bridge. Why is it so hidden?

In 1866, a ragtag army of Irish-American revolutionaries known as the Fenians carried out a hare-brained invasion of Canada, hoping to trade it to the United States in exchange for help driving the Brits out of Ireland. Canadian militias eventually crushed the clumsy incursion, but the battle that took place closest to Toronto (at Fort Erie) was costly. Sixteen of the fallen men, several of whom were U of T students, were immortalized in 1870 by Toronto’s first ever public sculpture, the Canadian Volunteer Monument. Artist Robert Reid created the 40-foot-high sandstone memorial, crowned by a marble female statue personifying the spirit of Britannia. At the time, its location was smack in the centre of a much larger Queen’s Park, but by the 1890s, the Ontario government had begun building roads through the property in service of the new legislature building, thus pushing the statue aside. Care for the orphaned monument has since fallen to the city, and the piece, perhaps due to its out-of-the-way location, into disrepair. However, according to the department of cultural assets, there are plans to restore this rather unusual relic from an unusual time.

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