News from the Archives v03-3
- Created by: Albert Fulton
- Date: 1994-09-01
- Provenance: Collected by members of Toronto Island Connections group, scanned by Edward English, OCR by Eric Zhelka, PDF by Eric Light
- Notes: v03-3
SEPTEMBER 1, 1994
Many thanks to the friendly gardeners who let us and the public visit their hideaways on Sunday afternoons in August. We were blessed with generally good weather, 2 perfect summer days, one with a strong north wind so that the Seneca gardens were not open, and last Sunday with a storm warning and a westerly gale but no rain to speak of and no gardens closed due to the wind. Our visitors came from far and wide, even 3 from the People’s Republic of China! Patricia Singer is compiling an Ontario directory of private gardens which can be visited by appointment, and she visited most of the gardens on the tour.
Some typical comments: I love the Island. I love the Islanders. I love the natural gardens. You are great composters and recyclers. It’s nice to put faces to the newspaper stories. It’s nice to find out the real story. How can I buy a house on the Island? Next time do it in June. Next time do it in July. How much does the tour cost? Nothing, ma’am. Future fund raising potential? Maybe house tours also?
Gardens open for one or more of the tours: 2,12,32 Omaha, 4,6,12 Nottawa, 5,12 Ojibway, 6,11 Oneida, 11,13 Dacotah, 11 Wyandot, 13,33 Seneca, 28,30 Lakeshore, 2 Withrow, 1 Channel, 4 Second, 4 Third, 25 Fifth. Thanks again, folks!
DORIS RUSKIN & 21 SENECA
Our oldest Islander turned 90 on August 14. Congratulations, Doris, and Many Happy Returns!!! Doris and her sister May were born in Bristol, England, where their father was an engineer in the merchant navy. Doris’ future husband Ernest was a Bristol lad who lived across the park, and they were married in 1930.Ernest worked as a salesman for Roneo (office equipment) in England and later in Toronto. Their daughter Diane married Harley Drew, an aeronautical tool and die maker, who was drawn to Toronto by Canada’s postwar boom in aircraft construction. Harley and
Diane moved to North York in 1951, and Ernest, Doris, and son Jeremy followed in 1953. The Ruskins first rented an apartment on Elmridge Dr in the Eglinton-Bathurst area, but after discovering Centre Island, 12-year-old Jeremy decided that was where he wanted to live. Doris had articled as a law clerk in England and she found employment as a legal secretary on Bay St. Ernest’s job was on Wellington St, and so the Island had the added attraction of being near work. They settled into a winterized apartment in Mrs Mae Johnston’s large house at 300 Lake Shore. Mrs Johnston lived in a separate cottage on the property and rented out 2 year-round apartments in the rear, as well as a number of summer apartments at the front and upstairs. Ernest, Doris and Jeremy lived there until the building was demolished in 1958.
Jeremy was a paper boy with a long route from the Main Drag to Snake Island, a delivery boy for the drug store, a pin boy at the outdoor bowling alley, and he also managed to fit in many happy hours of swimming and boating. St Rita’s Catholic Church was located on Iroquois Ave by the lagoon, and Jeremy (now a high school English teacher) helped the Catholic boys with their weekly catechism classes so that they could escape earlier and play hockey with him on the
ALGONQUIN ISLAND ARCHIVES c/o Albert Fulton 5 Ojibway Ave Toronto M5J 2C9 203-0921 or 537-5006
lagoon. Later on Algonquin, the Cameron boys of 16 Oneida coaxed him into the St Andrew’s Church choir. (Ernest was a warden at St Andrew’s for many years). Dr Rob Greig, of 172 Lake Shore, kindly sponsored Jeremy, the Cameron boys, and a number of other Island youngsters so that they could take sailing lessons at the RCYC.
The Rusldns were fortunate to acquire 21 Seneca. The house belonged to the Templeton family, and Jean Templeton was a friend of Margaret Stevenson, a summer tenant in one of the front apartments at 300 Lake Shore. Margaret had planned to move to 21 Seneca, but she decided that the Ruskin family of 3 were more deserving of a house. Jean Templeton took Doris and Jeremy in through the back door on a cold fall evening and said nothing about the lot fronting on the Harbour. They took the house and only later discovered the magnificent view from their front porch. Jeremy subsequently moved to 14 Omaha; he, wife Camilla, and daughter Andrea lived there from 1969 to 1981.
21Seneca was among the 31 houses floated over from West Island Drive in 1938. It was the Puddy family summer cottage, on the sandbar and on Algonquin. Albert Puddy was a wholesale butcher at the Tecumseh St abbatoir. His widow Helen sold the house to SydneySz.Minnie Jex in 1949, and in 1953 they sold it to Gilbert Templeton, manufacturer and promoter of patent medicines such as Templeton’s •TRCs and Templeton’s Raz-mah. His soothing voice was well known on radio and TV. A George Gamester article for the Toronto Star about Mr Templeton was reproduced in the March 1/94 issue of this newsletter. Doris tells me that the friendly Mr Templeton considered the Rusldns part of his extended family, sent them postcards when he was out of the country, and stayed overnight with them from time to time. The Ruskins acquired the hOuse after Mr Templeton’s death in 1980.
After Ernest retired atage 72, the Rusldns visited Malta, where Doris’ sister and family were living. They considered wintering there, but settled on Myrtle Beach so that daughter Diane and her family in North Bay could more easily visit. They praised Myrtle Beach to Al & Lu Schoenborn, and the two couples rented units in the same motel for a number of winters. Ernest died in 1992 at age 89 and Al in 1993 at age 88.
21Seneca is arguably the most famous house ever built on the Island! It was chosen as Leon’s home for the long-running CBC series Street Legal, both for its charming architecture and since the producers wanted a house by the Harbour with no hedges or shrubs to interfere with their equipment. Doris was contacted in Myrtle Beach, and she turned the arrangements over to Jeremy.Slides, photos, and video coverage of the well-decorated house and grounds during filming are in the Archives.
ALICE AITKEN & 1 OJIBWAY
Our second oldest Islander turned 90 on August 24,10 days after Doris. Congratulations, Alice, and Many Happy Returns!!! Doris and Alice were both born in England in August 1904, both had an older daughter and a younger son, lived 2 doors apart on the Lake Shore, and both moved to Algonquin in 1958!
Alice and her sisters Kathleen and Phyllis were born in Southport, a pretty town on the Irish Sea built on sand (like the Island!). Their father, Evan Monk, worked for The Manchester Guardian and later for The Toronto Telegram. He was a great lover of cricket, and he refereed games at Upper Canada College and at Centre Island.
The Monk family moved to Toronto in 1909, joining mother Jane’s two sisters who had emigrated earlier. They settled at 75 Balmoral Ave (a good British name), and Alice attended Brown School which was nearby on Avenue Rd.She continued her studies at Oakwood Collegiate, and then spent a year at the Margaret Eaton School of Dramatic Arts and Expression, at 21
After about 12 years the family moved to a larger house on Kenwood Ave, just north of St Clair, so that Kathleen could have room for a studio for her piano and vocal students. Both Kathleen and Evan sang in the choir at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, and Kathleen later became principal soloist at Deer Park United Church. Alice has happy memories o f many concerts at Massey Hall with Kathleen, who was often given complimentary tickets.
Alice’s future husband Harold had come from England in 1927 and was employed by the stockbroker firm Bongard & Co. They were engaged to be married in 1929, but the stockmarket crash intervened. Nevertheless, Harold managed to keep his job, and Alice was fortunate to be employed as secretary to the claims manager at the Western Insurance Co. The knot was finally tied in 1933,and the newlyweds spent the first few winters at the family home on Kenwood.Since corning to Toronto, Harold had spent every summer at Centre Island, and he and Donald Fleming (future finance minister in the Diefenbaker cabinet) had been sharing a cottage on St Andrew’s Ave. Both bachelors got hitched within two weeks of each other, and Harold & Alice rented a summer duplex, also on St Andrew’s, until they bought their own home at 290 Lake Shore in 1939. Photos of this beautiful 14-room house and grounds with the two catalpa trees out front are in the Archives. Harold pursued his gardening passion on the large lot (205′ deep), and he contributed a regular gardening column to The Centre Islander and later to The Goose and Duck. Passersby on the lake front were so impressed with Harold’s front garden that they would open the gate and come in to have their pictures taken!
After winterizing the house and making alterations so that the second floor could be rented to summer Islanders, the Aitkens lived at #290 year-round until 1958. Children Catherine and Douglas attended the Island school before heading off to Jarvis Collegiate, UofT, and Ryerson. Catherine (“Bunty”) married a Ward’s Island lad, Allen Buck, whose brother Bob lives at 2 Lakeshore. Harold was very active on the Centre Island Association executive and was involved in such endeavours as having the seawall built. For many years the hub of the Centre Island social life was the Island Aquatic Association, whose clubhouse burned down in 1939. Harold was the last vice-commodore and Donald Fleming was the last commodore. In winter Harold kept active by riding his bicycle across the harbour ice to go to work! (The usual transportation was via the tug from the Filtration Plant.)
Alice’s strong speaking voice and excellent diction won her many roles in plays staged at the Centre Island Clubhouse and later at the ALA Clubhouse. Among her parts was the high society lady in Outward Bound who delivered the memorable closing line, “You Swine!” Alice has many fond recollections of life at Centre–her busy activities at St Andrew-by-the-Lake Church including the construction of the Parish Hall in 1952-53, fitness classes at the Clubhouse, bridge with her partner Velma Greig every Thursday, sing-songs at Ginn’s Casino, Saturday night dances at the Aquatic Club, and the famous Ferry Boat Follies featuring such performers as Jane Hodgson (recently of 3 Dacotab) and Bunty Aitken.
When 290 Lake Shore was demolished in 1958, the Aitkens moved to 1 Ojibway. This house had been built in 1949 by James Filby, with the help of Fred Wilson of 7 Ojibway. Mr Filby later became publisher of Boston Mills Press, which put out an excellent 80-page booklet, Memories of Toronto Island, in 1980. The hundred or so photographs are supplemented by text written by M J Lennon, and Mr Filby drew a detailed 4-page map showing all the buildings on the Island in 1910. Mr Filby delivered a historical presentation before the Swadron Commission in 1980.
James & Dorothy Filby and family lived at 1 Ojibway until 1955 and then rented the house to the u o fr professor of German, Leo Ulrich, and his wife Helene. In 1959 the Filbys sold the house to the Aitkens, and the Ulrichs moved to 2 Dacotah. Harold continued his gardening and his
participation in the Save Island Homes campaign until his death in 1976, and Alice speaks often of the kindness of her neighbours during Harold’s final illness. Bunty and Doug and their children are frequent Sunday visitors, and 1 Ojibway continues to be in good hands.
One of the highlights of the Archives Exhibition of April 1993 was the Long Live the Toronto Island Community circular quilt of 1974. One of the outer segments is St Andrew’s Church by Alice, and one of the inner segments, next to Percy the milkman, is Harold working in his garden, by his granddaughter Susan Buck. (Photos of the quilt are in the Archives; it is presently hanging at 12 Omaha.)
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER
David Hustler: Our local enamelist has been commissioned to do all the enamelling work on the new Bell Canadian golf trophy, along with the annual presentation trophies. In recent years the trophies have been pieces of Eskimo art. This year’s main trophy, which will remain on display at the Glen Abbey golf museum, is a sterling silver cup about 24″ tall, and David has enamelled the 1.25″x.625″ flags of the provinces and territories, two Royal Canadian Golf Association red maple leaf logos, and two Bell Canadian Open logos, one in French and one in English.
We have been admiring David’s beautiful work from time to time during the summer and have been reminded of the complicated design and colouring of the provincial flags. David had to paint in some of the intricate detailing using a brush with only one hair. Watch for the trophy on TV during the Open, September 5-11, and the presentation of the smaller annual trophy at the wrap up.
Paul Kotyk: In 1990 David Harris brought some racing bikes to the Island, Paul got hooked, and he’s been racing ever since. This summer has been bikers’ heaven. In June he won the Junior Men’s Provincial at Stoney Creek, 121 km up and down the escarpment. In July he won the Canadian Junior Men’s in Edmonton. (As a member of the the provincial team of 6, his expenses were fully paid.) Next he was part of the Canadian team of 4 in Quito, Equador, back for the World Cup in Northern Quebec (700 km spread over 6 days), and then on to England for the British National Championships (as a British citizen; thanks, Mum!)
Paul is winding down his season with 3 races in Windsor and London (Ontario), followed by the fall semester at Central Tech. Come winter, hopefully with a new sponsor, he’s off to sunny Spain and California. Meantime, if you want him to fix your bike, bring it to the little house out back.
A number of recent daylight house robberies alert us to the fact that we must all be watchful at all times. Two of the suspects are women in their mid-to-late thirties who were dressed as if they were visiting the yacht club; possibly they are working together. One was seen walking back and forth in front of a house, and the other was observed opening a shed door. Let’s reactivate the old “telegraph system” used for monitoring the rounds of the building inspector!
The channel is about 10′ to the west of the markers. A tire and 4 logs have been removed, and there is presently about 3′ of water. Our prop wash should help deepen the channel, and later we will tow an old bedspring through from time to time, unless someone has a better dredging tool. Any suggestions?
Marine Museum Art Exhibition, until September 5:
This annual exhibition o f paintings of the Harbour area has several Island scenes: the Sea Hawks boathouse and boats, Deenie & Freda’s garden, 2 historical Centre and HanIan’s scenes by Rowley Murphy and Walter Coucill, and Silver Heels on the lagoon by Donna Seymour (29 Seneca). This famous iceboat was sailed by Tom Swalwell (11 Ojibway) and is presently owned by the Marine Museum.
Market Gallery Photography Exhibition, until September 18:
This show, titled “Toronto After Dark”, has photos by Gera Dillon of the Island Caribana entries and First Night celebrations, and a fire spectacle on Ward’s Beach.
Toronto Historical Board Walking Tours, Sundays at 1:30:
September 11: Historical tour of the central waterfront, starting at Little Norway Park (SW corner of Queen’s Quay & Bathurst).
September 18: Fort York area.
September 25: Marine Museum area.
October 2: Castle Frank area, starting at the Castle Frank subway station. ROM WALK at the Gooderham & Worts Complex and environs:
This is a fascinating collection of about 30 limestone and brick buildings, left when the distillery ceased operations in 1990. The windmill o f 1831 on the site was a navigation landmark for decades, and i t figured prominently in many early paintings of the Harbour. The Gooderham summer homes a t Centre were among the most spectacular on the Lake Shore, and the Gooderham “Flatiron Building” with the mural is well-known to the St Lawrence Market shoppers. The George Gooderham red sandstone and brick Romanesque mansion at the NE corner of Bloor & St George has been well maintained by the York Club since 1909.
The redevelopment plans for the 11-acre complex have generated considerable controversy, and the Archives file keeps getting thicker. Roger du Toit (4 Nottawa) is one of the chief architects. If you are interested in visiting the site, let me know and I will arrange a tour on a Sunday afternoon in September or October. The ROM charges $5 each for a group of 10 or more.
Sandy Krzyzanowsld donated a 150-page book of poetry titled “Clearing” (1977) byPennyKemp of 14 Fourth. Graham Mudge donated an impressive advertising poster commissioned by the Metro Convention & Visitors Association. The photo, by Peter Mintz, looks north from the front yard at 31 Seneca, with the white picket fence in the foreground. Graham also dropped off a 2/3 of a page Island article from the Kalamazoo Gazette of June 26/94. Despite a few errors, “Centre Island” is spelled correctly, but I was curious about the Yankee pronunciation. The relocated Floridean, Vivian Pitcher, told me that it is “Sentry Island”! Peter Newman donated excellent photos which he took during the sewer construction on Ward’s in the fall of 1983.Some of the houses are nestled among impressive looking sand dunes. Bruce Weber provided the signed carbon-copy of the 1950 contract for the construction of Margaret Roberts’ house at 1 Oneida. Herbert Barker (4 Ojibway) was the contractor, Bill Condie (30 Omaha) was the witness, and the price was$4850. Bruce also dropped off some early photos of the house and Marg’s beautiful garden, and of the Lakeshore flooding in high water 1952. Adam Zhelka donated a mint condition “Save Island Homes” T-shirt and a black “Toronto Island Community” banner which incorporates the Englar Island flag design.
These items and the remainder of the burgeoning Archives collection can be examined during the regular Archives hours of 1-5 on Sunday afternoons (closed September 11, unless it rains).
YE OLDE ROPE SWING
This sketch was drawn by Roger du Toit, who lived nearby at 4 Nottawa from 1966 to 1987. According to oldtimers, the tree has borne a rope for at least 40 years.
The tree is located on the city road allowance, and in late June, City Parks requested that City Forestry remove the rope. We are told that no complaint had been registered and that City Parks was simply enforcing its policy. Unaware of who had removed the rope, John Jackman bought a new rope and Jerry Englar helped him install it on July 1, an appropriate day for engaging in a heritage activity! Again City Parks requested City Forestry to remove the rope, and this time the Three Foresters cut off the branch. The rope was retrieved and out o f respect for the tree’s remaining branches, it will not be rehung until this matter is resolved.
•L i z Amer wrote a letter to Parks Commissioner Herb Pirk, and Doryne Peace met with Mr Pirk. We are cautiously optimistic that an arrangement can be worked out so that the local swingers can be reunited with their old friend.
John’s generosity cost him $115, and the following rope supporters chipped in $10 each to pay him back: Peter Broecker, John Di Lallo, Jerry Englar, Wayne Fraser, Graham Mudge, Ken Randall, Bill Roedde, Wayne Smith, Roger Wilson, plus 2 anonymous donors.
THE ISLAND IN THE MEDIA
Journalist Robert Fulford and TV producer George Prodanou have each recently spent a couple of hours of research at the Archives. Mr Fulford, formerly of 10 Lakeshore, has prepared an article for Toronto Life magazine, probably in the October issue. Mr Prodanou has produced a7-minute segment for CBC Prime Time news.
BY BRIAN MCANDREW ENVIRONMENTREPORTER
Toronto Islands residents are
byHEN I WALK into the classroom,
everyone’s eyes are shut and they’re all breathing deeply.
The instructor, in a woolly
sweater and br ow n corduroys, i s strolling around with a bell held above his head. His name is Jim Bean, and the course is called The Healing Potential of Alternate States o f Reality Through Holotropic Breathwork. It’s one of the big-ticket items in the Learning Annex catalogue. He tells us that people relive birth and endure near-death experiences during the breathwork and warns that people will sometimes chant in different languages. “Identification with all of hu manity might happen near the end of the exercise,” he adds. Thirteen of us inhale profoundly.
By Lynn Cunningham
•We had finished our grocery shopping, and ,
Leida Engiar gently stirs the strips of fabric thatare stewing on her kitchen stove in giant pots of green, yellow and red dye.Under the shade of a giant blue tarp in the backyard of Englar’s Algonquin Island home, a band of loyal volun- teers attaches strings to card- boardbones,fastens strands of thick twine to skeleton head dresses and hangs dyed cloth- ing on lines to dry. Socamusic booms from a stereoinside the house.
The Caribana parade is justa nightaway but the party has already begun at Shadowland theatre group’s mas’ band camp. Shadowland’s band may not be the biggest at today’s pa rade, but its members will come with bones for earrings andtheir bodies painted head to toe, ready to play hard — just as they have every year sincethe groupjoinedthe festi val 10 years ago.
And,asusual,they will bring with them a message. The band’s theme this year is Bare
upset after four young trees wereyankedfrom the groundto
make way for a new fire hall
andtwo city departments have decidedto investigate.
The treeswere dugoutby the roots by abackhoe Monday and discarded at the side of the building site, nearby resident Wayne Fraser said.
Workers manoeuvringa trail- erlater backedover the felled trees, he added.
“I don’t know if they will sur- vive. It’s a damnshame,”Fraser saidabout the five-metre trees, described by residents as a birch, tulip and pair of buck- thorns.
Residents soaked•the roots with water each night
The treeswere plantedwithin the pastfive yearsunder a Met ro government planting pro ram.Fraser said.
the last stop was the Parliament Street 4
liquor store, which reflects its diverse clientele through its large selection of both
cheap sh e rry and fifteen-dollar-plus ,
chardonnays. Because the groceries were in a bundle buggy, it made sense that one of
us stay outside with it, and I volunteered. /
While I waited, I decided to unload the food so as to put the wine on the bottom of t
the cart. So there I was in my dressed-for )
success black trench coat with an array of plastic shopping bags at my feet and my )
shopping cart beside me, watching three q
panhandlers hit up passersby. They scored with one man, who then approached me.’ a
“Sorry darlin’,” he apologized. “I can only spare a quarter.”
Bones, a humorous social com mentary on hard economic times,saysEnglar. “It’s a recessionband,”says Englar, as she glances at the gang of busy workers in her backyard. ‘We have nomoney, sowe’re goingbare bones.Po litically, I think our Earth and- ourcommunities are comingto
the bare-boned bottom now, too.
“It’s like we stoppedcaring. We rape and pillage every- thing. We forgetto take care of eachother. With Bare Bones we’re saying, ‘Hey, we’ve
gota lot Let’s look after it.’ “Otherthan that, it’s one big party!,
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANNABELLE COOPER
Houseboat at Algonquin Island,Summer,1992.
Toronto By Lens appearsweeklyas a photographic insight into the architectural etniron»witt•
A-t z – 1 — 1 4 / 6
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