James Hardy

Plot 14, Section 44, Lot 3
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

At the turn of the nineteenth century, highwire walking was all the rage. Samuel Dixon (Plot 5, Section 5, Lot 12) crossed the Niagara River Gorge in 1890 and six years later the gentleman buried here did the same thing. James Hardy was born in Toronto in 1875 and as a young man began tightrope walking next to Walter Dean’s boathouse (now the Palais Royale) at the old Sunnyside Beach, and at the annual Canadian National Exhibition. If he was lucky he could earn up to $3 a night from appreciative crowds. In 1896 he walked across the Niagara River Gorge, not once but sixteen times. The newspapers billed the young Torontonian “the Canadian Blondin.” The following year he crossed the Genesee River Gorge in New York State and the Montmorency Falls in Quebec. Hardy soon took his act on the road and appeared in various vaudeville houses throughout Canada and the United States and even at the famed Crystal Palace in London, England. Returning to his hometown he continued to entertain crowds at the “Ex” and at Sunnyside Amusement Park. On May 11, 1939, while shopping in a Queen Street West fruit market, James Hardy dropped dead of a massive heart attack.

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

 Story Archives »