Elgin Crescent

Elgin Crescent is named for James Bruce, Earl of Elgin

James Bruce, eighth Earl of Elgin Stratford-Perth Archives

Elgin Crescent is one of a group of streets in a southeast area of the city named for Ontario counties. Elgin Crescent is named for Elgin County, which in turn was named for James Bruce, eighth Earl of Elgin, Governor-General of British North America from 1847 to 1854.

When Lord Elgin sailed for Canada, it was said his energy and enthusiasm stood out in violent contrast with the ill-health of his immediate predecessors. He was an elegant speaker in both French and English.

But there were troublesome times during his time in office, when the Governor General played a political role during the transition to responsible government. In 1849, the Governor General gave Royal assent to the act which provided for "indemnification of parties in Lower Canada whose property was destroyed during the Rebellion of 1837 and 1838." No sooner had the bill been passed than disorder erupted in the gallery of the parliament buildings in Montreal. As Elgin left the chamber, his carriage was pelted with eggs and rocks. A mob gathered in the Champ de Mars and soon stormed the parliament buildings. They stoned the windows, entered the chamber, smashed furniture and seized the mace. One of the attackers, seated in the speaker's chair, proclaimed the dissolution of parliament in the name of the people.

A moment later, fire broke out, and in short order, a beautiful building was burned to the ground. An estimated 20,000 volumes were lost, and the only public records for an entire period of Canadian history were gone. Mob violence reigned in Montreal for days, but Lord Elgin refused military protection. Soon, the capital was moved to Toronto. The Tory family compact continued to work against Elgin in his fight for responsible government, which despite the opposition, began to grow and flourish and eventually triumph. In 1849, he was created a peer of the United Kingdom with the title of Baron Elgin. Source: Streets of Stratford 2004