Madison McD.

Oro Medonte, Ontario

Simcoe County Regional Fair

Joseph Sheard

My project is about my great-great-great-great grandfather Joseph Sheard, 19th mayor of Toronto. He was a penniless immigrant from England when he arrived in 1833, but he built a sense of community around him and identified employment opportunities to advance his career. Sheard worked his way up from carpenter to prominent architect, and eventually mayor, always working in the best interest of the people.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

I felt proud when I read that Joseph Sheard protected the rights and well-being of people. By refusing to build the gallows, he too could have been hanged. Joseph Sheard did not want any part in hurting people when he felt it could have been himself in that situation. Joseph Sheard also demonstrated that he cared for people by putting forth a motion for the civic holiday, allowing people to receive a day of rest the first Monday in August.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

I learned that hard work, valuing others and courage can lead to great opportunities. Joseph Sheard didn’t allow change or difficult times to discourage him. He stayed true to his beliefs and subsequently his courageous leadership and protection of people was rewarded.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

I am fortunate to experience greater peace and financial stability in my life than Joseph Sheard. His father died in the War of 1812 when Joseph Sheard was an infant, so Sheard left school at age 9 to get a job to help support the family because there were no social programs to assist families at that time. Also, I am lucky that Canada continues to be a nation that allows for opportunity if you work hard and persevere during challenges. In addition, I believe my rights are better protected today as a result of people like Joseph Sheard, as people are no longer hanged for their beliefs.