On the Toronto Dreams Project's UK Tour, I headed from London to Wales and from Wales back across the border into England's West Country. My first stop on that leg of the tour brought to me to spend one night in Bristol. There weren't any particular connections to Toronto history's there — but I used it as a base to explore two nearby towns where there were plenty.Bath is just a ten minute train ride from Bristol. I headed there as soon as I'd checked into my hotel on the night I arrived. It's a World Heritage Site — one of five I would visit on my trip — home to the famous Roman baths. And it was easily one of the most beautiful places I saw on the entire trip. The gorgeous surroundings and supposedly healthy spring water attracted many visitors in the 1700s and the 1800s. And the Simcoes were among them. The parents of John Graves Simcoe — the governor who founded Toronto — got married at Bath Abbey, which looms over the complex of Roman baths. (It's the cathedral in the big photo above.) His wife, Elizabeth Simcoe, was a frequent visitor too. I left a dream for her outside the church.
Meanwhile, the town of Thornbury is a short-ish bus ride north of Bristol. So I headed there when I woke up the next morning. It's the town where John Rolph was born. He was a doctor and a lawyer and one of the most important political figures in the early history of Toronto. He was a leading advocate for democratic reform — eventually becoming a key ally to William Lyon Mackenzie. If the rebel mayor's revolution had been successful, Rolph would have become the first Canadian President. I left a bunch of dreams for him in Thornbury. And wrote a whole post about it here.
Bristol itself was pretty amazing, too. I was only able to wander around the city for a few hours — I had hurry south to Exeter for the next leg of my tour — but it was another highlight of the trip. It was bustling with life on a Friday evening, a mix of university students and artists, of historical buildings and graffiti (it's Bansky's hometown), that reminded me of Toronto more than any other place I visited on the entire trip. I hope to get to back someday.
And, as always, you can follow me on Instagram at @todreamsproject.