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Recognizing History In Toronto

Published: July 20, 2018 5:13 pm ET

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On Thursday (July 19), Heritage Toronto, Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame jointly honoured the home of first Queen’s Plate.

The Queen’s Plate, North America’s oldest continuously run Thoroughbred Stakes race was first held at the Carleton Race Course, located in what is now a busy Toronto neighbourhood near High Park. On June 27, 1860, approximately 3,000 racing fans, many making the five-and-a-half mile train trip from Union Station, watched Don Juan win the Queen’s Plate Stakes for a purse of 50 guineas as sanctioned by Queen Victoria.

The site of that historic race track -- on what was at the time the estate of William Keele, named Glenside, where the inaugural Queen’s Plate took place -- will now be permanently identified by an historic plaque situated near the corner of High Park Avenue and Humberside.

Late Thursday afternoon, a group of area residents, heritage enthusiasts, racing fans and even a descendant of the Keele family, gathered to officially unveil the historic plaque recognizing the site and the role the local area holds in the history of the Queen’s Plate and Canada’s horse racing history.

Left to Right: Toronto Ward 13 Councillor Sarah Doucette, Peter Berton, Heritage Toronto Board Member, Carmen Day, VP Sales, Events and Guest Experience Woodbine Entertainment, and Darryl Kaplan, President, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame with the historical plaque marking the location of the inaugural Queen's Plate, held in 1860.

In his comments, Peter Berton, Heritage Toronto Board member reflected on his organization’s important role of ensuring stories from Toronto’s history continue to be told and remembered in their individual neighbourhoods.

Carmen Day, Woodbine Entertainment, VP of Sales, Events and Guest Experience marvelled at how many students from nearby Humberside Collegiate can now become aware of the history of the Queen’s Plate and connect that history to today’s Queen’s Plate experience.

Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame President, Darryl Kaplan recognized the importance of racing in Canada’s history, reminding those in attendance the sport of horse racing outdates most other sports that continue today in Canada, 250 plus years after the first recorded race on Canadian soil.

Final comments were offered by Councillor Sarah Doucette, Ward 13 who stated, “I look forward to seeing Ward 13 residents and visitors read the plaque and see the landscape of their neighbourhood with fresh eyes. A racetrack, here, on this residential street, who knew?”

(with files from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

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