Frederick G. “Big Daddy” Gardiner

Plot U, Lot 122 
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

Born in a small house at 69 Arthur Street (now part of Dundas Street West) on January 21, 1895, Gardiner went to public and high schools in Parkdale, after which he attended the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He established what would become a very successful legal practice in 1920. Gardiner’s political life began in 1936 when he became deputy reeve of the village of Forest Hill. Three years later he was elected reeve, a position he held until 1949.
   Meanwhile, Toronto and its twelve surrounding suburbs were starting to feel the effects of uncontrolled growth resulting from the immense numbers of immigrants arriving from European countries after the war. In an attempt to bring some order out of the impending chaos the provincial government established the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto in 1953. Premier Leslie Frost appointed the feisty and knowledgeable Fred Gardiner as the new authority’s first chairman. In his powerful new position Gardiner soon became known as “Big Daddy.” Much was done under his leadership including the creation of departments to oversee activities that crossed municipal boundaries, such as the Toronto Transit Commission, the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department, the Metropolitan Toronto Works Department, and several others, including the Metropolitan Toronto Roads Department. The latter authority was working on what was originally known as the Cross-Waterfront Expressway. It was soon renamed the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway in “Big Daddy’s” honour. Gardiner remained as Metro Chairman until the end of 1961 when he was replaced by William Allen.
   Gardiner retired from his last public office (he was a Toronto Hydro commissioner) in 1979, and died on August 21, 1983 at the age of 88.

Mike Filey
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded

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