News from the Archives v04-4
- Created by: Albert Fulton
- Date: 1995-12-01
- Provenance: Collected by members of Toronto Island Connections group, scanned by Edward English, OCR by Eric Zhelka, PDF by Eric Light
- Notes: v04-4
DECEMBER I, 1995
ISLAND MEMORIES by Robert Johnston
Bob & Sally Johnston were the original owners of 9 Wyandot.
Someone asked me, “How come you lived for a time on an island in the Toronto Bay?” Well, here is the story. When I moved to Toronto to work for Canadian Acousticon Lid, I lived at the YMCA on College St. During that winter of 1928-9 there was a notice on the bulletin board to the effect that during the coming summer they would have a tent camp on Ward’s Island. It would be called Camp Cenymca (after Central YMCA), with two persons per tent. A big main tent would supply meals. The cost was minimal I signed up. You didn’t lose your permanent room at the Y. The timing, I think, was mid-June to mid-September. It was so much fun I went for two or was it three summers.
The camp was located by the Eastern Gap, and on a foggy night, the fog horn at the end of the pier would startle you out of bed. It was LOUD. However, it was amazing how we got used to it. You got so you kind of liked it. The ferry to the city left about every thirty minutes in the morning. It took about twenty minutes to walk up to Richmond and Bay from the City Dock, so I had to be sure to get the 8 am ferry. I was never a get-up-early type of guy. Many mornings while rushing to finish dressing, I would yell, “One egg to go!” On the run I would fly out past the dining tent where the cook would hand me an unwrapped egg sandwich. The egg yolk would be running between my fingers. I would just make the ferry as the gang plank was being raised.
Those days at the Camp I shall never forget. They were a great bunch of guys. We partied with the Ward’s Islanders. Often we would have a corn roast on Algonquin, or Sunfish Island which it was called in those days. We rounded up row boats to get across. When I got married in 1932 I was able to rent a cottage for the summer on Ward’s Island. It was good fun—tennis, dancing, and I even tried lawn bowling.
During the winter of 1937 the City ran an article in the paper to the effect that anyone could apply for a building lot on Algonquin Island. You would get a 21-year lease of the lot and pay annual property tax. I looked at the plan and chose a lot on the west end of the island across from what was to be a park. In the spring of 1938 we started to build our summer home. My wife Sally spent nearly every day with the carpenter picking out the lumber at the Toronto Lumber Company, choosing the 2x8s and 2x4s that were the straightest and arranging to have them transported to the island. Bob Jr. would be four at that time with Gail just a tot. We had a very capable lady who looked after them where we lived in the east end of Toronto. By mid-summer the house was ready to move into except that the wall boards were missing on one side of the partitions. This I completed at nights and weekends. The fireplace was a delight to see. Whenever we went to Guelph to see our folks we would stop along the way and pick up colorful large stones. Where we found the man who built the stonework I do not know. He was a foreigner of some sort. In those days wages were low. I think he asked for only forty five cents an hoar. My friend Chris Burgener made us a beautiful maple mantel. We had a large beautiful fireplace which was the talk of the island. At that time I was a member of the Toronto Executive Association. One of our members was an executive of Aikenheads Hardware. They had just introduced the heatilator. I was their first customer and our fireplace stone mason built it in.
We built the house on the island as a summer place only. We would go there as soon as the weather was comfortable and stay as long as we could. It was quiet and peaceful and the new neighbours friendly and because we were all working on our new houses, everybody was anxious to help one another. We joined Ward’s Island Association and enjoyed their activities. Towards the end of the war years the City urged return men to take up lots on Algonquin and build homes. The empty centre of the island soon started to build up and by 1946 it was a busy community. So many of our friends seemed to live on the island we decided to have our house winterized and live there year round, like just about everyone else.
We formed the Algonquin Island Association of which I was the first president. We started to raise money to build a clubhouse—raffles, stags at one another’s houses on Friday nights, anything to raise money. The host of the week charged everyone fifty cents and we sold beer. Activities for the evening were darts, poker, bridge and conversation. All the money went into the building fund. The host provided only cheese and crackers. We even had New Year’s Eve parties on the ice in the lagoon. The old year Father Time would be Ken Purchase [28 Omaha], and the New Year Baby would be Earl Norton [3 Wyandot], both in suitable costumes. No matter how bitterly cold, the entire Island would
ALGONQUIN ISLAND ARCHIVES c/o Albert Fulton 5 Ojibway Ave Toronto M5J 2C9 (416) 203-0921 or 537-5006
turn out. We would set up a cash bar, have flood fights (courtesy of the nearest street fight and a long extension cord). First thing you know we had enough money to buy lumber. Everyone pitched in and since we were all used to building our own places, in no time we had a large-sized building. It was big enough to have badminton courts, a stage, and kitchen. Then we could have dances, bridge parties, Xmas parties for the children, and constant activities. We applied to the City for space across from Wyandot in the park area to build the clubhouse. Two or three of us had to sign an agreement that we would be responsible for the project. There was no rental charge for the ground space, fortunately. We had plans drawn up and submitted them to City Hall for approval.
I must tell you about one bitter night. We decided to hold the New Year’s Eve party in the big hall at the CICYC. Of course, there was no heat in the Club except a space heater in the kitchen. The entertainment was Madam Ginsberg’s Second Hand Fashion Show. I wrote the script for the introduction of each model as ‘she’ came on stage. For example, “This athletic group of young, umm, under forty, umm, must see the colorful choice of tennis blouse and skirt. White plus pink is ‘in’ this year. The boys will drool!” Then with an introduction like that, the model would come on stage. My tennis model, dressed in shorts and lady’s blouse, would tip toe on like a pro. One year I had Tommy Golds [14 Nottawa] as a model. Another fashion might be ladies’ underthings with Bob Norton [3 Wyandot] as the model with corset and pretty well nothing else on. I would perhaps introduce him by saying, “Now gentlemen, in the audience please close your eyes for our next model. She is somewhat shy in such a mixed audience.” Can you imagine, with zero weather. But what fun. I was able to get used wigs such as you see on window models in department stores. I wore a long ladys fancy dress, long gloves, and used a pince-nez borrowed from an optical firm. I spent hours it seemed coaching my ‘girls’. I had about 8 or 10 of the coming spring and summer new style fashions. I had to teach my gals how to walk, give a toothy smile once in a while, but NEVER NEVER to be funny or horse around. It was a riot. I had more on than they did and felt frozen. But it was a date everyone remembered. I put it on once more after we built our clubhouse.
The Bay was usually frozen over with thick ice. Many Islanders walked across to the City if there wasn’t too much snow or it wasn’t too cold. Come early spring always one or two guys or gals would break through and rush home to shed icy clothes and get warm. Just about everybody had skates. Iceboat sailing was popular. Rod Hughes [4 Dacotah] and Ed Stanger [?] were two participants. As you probably know, iceboats can go faster than the wind.
Many Algonquin Islanders joined the OCYC with or without owning boats. I had a large sloop and was Commodore for a couple of years. Bob Jr. learned sailing at the CICYC Junior Club. During his high school days he frequently ran the Club’s tender back and forth to the city with Club members. Good fun, he said.
Bob became a teacher in Mississauga, and friends gradually moved away. Sally’s brother moved to Oakville. So we took the plunge in 1957 and bought a house, also in Oakville.
I could write forever about our good friends and the good times we had on Algonquin Island. About the Xmas parties, the birthday parties, the dance lessons at the Clubhouse where we learned the tango, rhumba, waltz, highland dances and so on, taught by a man and his wife who had been professional teachers in England. The Gala Days in August for all the kids, and they seemed to grow like weeds. The skating parties on the lagoon, the wild croquet games in the park. The shows we put on at the Clubhouse. Santa giving out presents to all the children. What a wonderful group of neighbours and friends we will never forget!
Ninety-one-year-old Bob, and Bob Jr., dropped off BobIs Island memoirs at the Archives in September. The above is a slightly edited excerpt. They promised to return, with photos! A week later Bob called to say he was going to write more about the construction of the clubhouse during his sojourn in sunny Naples, Florida this winter. You can look forward to another Johnston instalment in a subsequent newsletter.
From The Centre Islander, January 1953:
SALLY JOHNSTON, VI RAE [3 Nottawa], and MARY ROSE [6 Dacotah] are responsible for the purchasing, cutting, making, sewing, fitting, banging, etc. of the new stage curtains at the AIA clubhouse. AL RAE [3 Nottawa] did the engineering on the cables, etc. It has made a tremendous difference in our stage and put the finishing touch on the Christmas and New Year’s Eve Parties.
The New Year’s Eve party was really a good “go”. BOB JOHNSTON and JOHN PERDUE [27 Seneca] were both Masters of Ceremonies and along with AL RAE did a lot of planning and backwork. Everyone agreed it was the biggest and best dance to date. Keep your eye on the ALA — (plug).
Entertainment was a scream with BOB JOHNSTON, hereinafter called MR. GINSBERG, presenting his gallery of Fine Paintings. Included in this priceless collection were the following Old Masters: Spring, Blue Boy, Welcome Home (AL RA E and EA RL NORTON), September Mo rn (DIXON LANG) [11 Oneida], The Doctor (FRED HEADWORTH) rl Wyandot], Whistler’s Father (DANNY O’NEILL) [?I, Pilgrim Fathers (EARL NORTON, FRED HEADWORTH, and PETER BOSWELL [5 Wandot]. MARY ROSE was the Alausometer. The Barber Sho
Quartet, of which we’d like to hear more: JOHN RUTLEDGE [8 Nottawa] in the chair, GORD CAMERON [4 Oneida] as lead tenor, young BOB JOHNSTON as baritone, and PETER BOS WELL asbass. ROD HUGHES was curtain man. In 1958 the Johnstons sold 9 Wyandot to Alan Drury (a buyer with Bell Tel) and his wife Elsie (a publicist with Abitibi Pulp & Paper). Ten years later the Drurys sold to the present owners, Roger & Meg Wilson and family. The Wilsons are long-time Islanders, having previously rented at 266 Lake Shore, 4 Hiawatha, 70 Lake Shore, and 5 Nottawa.
On June 28 Richard gave a reading of fourteen of his Island poems. It was a magical evening for the lucky guests and passers-by. Richard emoted from the dias at 33 Seneca toward the slowly sinking sun which gradually painted the sky and the bay into a fitting backdrop for his colourful verse. Richard’s work has appeared in two previous Island newsletters, and I include one of the poems which he read that evening. Copies of the others are in the Archives.
Between the promised Island and the land,
In brief reprieve from surfeit and demand,
We brace ourselves against the trembled steel,
Warm to the touch, that buoys us up, and feel
The helical, trifoliate-rose screw
Bite, brutally inform, and thrust us through
The massive pliant waters, where we make
A river of white water in the lake
Behind us, flowing marvellous with runes,
All turbulent on marbled, molten dunes
That serried, fold from savage brightness churned
Beneath us: spread before us, evening-turned,
We enter liquid fire, which our bows
Divide; whereon time’s swift collect allows
The dark inflected surface to unlearn
Our mortal wound diminishing astern.
TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
On Saturday, September 16, Emily and I attended an interesting program of short films at this year’s film festival. The Island was well represented, with 3 of the 6 films shown! By April Hickox: When the Mind Hears, which she previewed at the Rectory in the spring. By Wrik Mead (16 Omaha), 2 films: Closet Case and (ab)Normal. In the credits Wrik includes John Coull, Mitch Fenton, and Steve Marshall.
On September 25 the Grade 6/7/8 class from the IPS spent the afternoon at the Archives. After a general introduction to Island history, the students split into 5 small groups for selected research topics. After a break, each of the students visited a different research area. A photocopy service was provided. The following “old-timers” graciously acted as resource people: Sandy Krzyzanowsld, Babs Lye, Bi l l Roedde, L u Schoenborn, Adam Zhelka. Teacher Vicky Burton kindly donated a 2″ stack of Island postcards to the Archives.
Letter from Stephen Lye (aka the log man of 4 Dacotah):
To whom it may concern:
I, Stephen Lye, long time Toronto Island resident, currently living in the City of Toronto, am taking it upon myself to complete a civil action Friday, September22,1995 at the foot of BayStreet at the Toronto Island Ferry Docks. Several years ago, I noticed that the wall map (and hand Outs) currently residing at the Toronto Ferry Docks outlining the geography of the Islands and the attractions failed to point out a vital service in existence on the Island, that being the Fire Station, complete with medical facilities in case any emergency should arise. Not only this, but the map also fails to recognize the existence of a community of approximately 700 people. At that time I took it upon myself to contact Metro Works and pointed this obvious oversight out to them. I was assured that
action would be taken in order to correct this mistake. To date nothing has been done. As a direct result of the lack of action taken on the part of Metro Parks and Property, I will be taking it upon myself to redesign the existing map that currently resides at the Toronto Island Ferry Docks, hoping that this will make everyone aware of what Toronto Island really represents and perhaps open people’s eyes to the fact that Metro has been trying to keep the people ignorant and in darkness as to the full beauty of what the Toronto Islands have to offer.
I would like to point out at this time that I am in no way affiliated with any political party. This is your invitation to come and help me publicize the facts.
Stephen reports that the map bearing his improvements was removed from the wall of the waiting area by Metro forces within an hour of the execution of his civil action. We are still waiting for the new map.
The October issue of Toronto Life listed the average household incomes for 152 Metro neighbourhoods. The average was $63,736, the highest (Bayview-Lawrence) was $231,144, and the lowest (South Parkdale) was $31,877. The Island average was $40,048. Neither the date nor the source of the statistics was stated.
SANDY AT THE TEXTILE MUSEUM
On the evening of October 25, Sandy Krzyzanowski was the speaker at the monthly Surfacing Lecture Series of the Textile Artists and Designers Association. Sandy’s talk and slide show were held in the cosy and comfortable auditorium at the Museum for Textiles, 55 Centre Ave (just north of City Hall). A number of Island artists have had their work on display at the Museum within the past year, e.g. Luisa Butscher, Susan Warner Keene, Barbara Klunder, Janet Morton, Irina Schestakowich.
Sandy’s interesting slides spanned a period of approximately 20 years in her development of natural dye techniques, and she plans to eventually write a book on the subject. In time for Christmas shopping, Sandys work will be available at the Christmas Boutique, at the Jewish Community Centre (Bloor & Spadina) on Sunday, December 3 (11-6), and at 12 Omaha on Saturday and Sunday, December 9,10 (11-6). Following is a slightly edited excerpt from a transcription of Sandy’s talk.
I have been blessed by being part of three communities. One is Toronto Island. There is a lot of creative activity, and a lot of cooperation and communication among people. For example, we make quilts together, and we know who to call to get something going. It’s been a terrific place for my creative life and my career in textiles. Another place is Lothlorien Farm, where I lived for 7 years. It’s a 2 5
cooperative with craft businesses near Ompah, north of Kingston. Ellen Good is still doing her wonderful
weaving there, and Peter Bunnett makes musical instruments — Vibration for the Nation. Bush, swamps, lakes,
y e a r
rivers, rocks — the landscape is incredible. And there’s a lot of support within the immediate community, as well
as in the community at large. In both these cases I chose places to live where Nature was free to overwhelm me.
o l d r u r a l r e s i d e n t i a l
And it does, especially in my garden. I’ve always worked at home and have created an environment that I’ve
enjoyed working in. And then, finally, there’s my beloved cultural home, Harbourfront! I have felt at times that I lived there. I was lucky to get an early start doing fashion shows and two Surfacing workshops. Since my return from the country 7 years ago, I’ve been exhibiting at the Herb Fairs, Canada Day, Harvest Fest, and WOMAD. And the Music! To integrate the arts for the community, by the community, is just the way life oughta be!
Titled THE BIG PICTURE, Panoramic Photography in Toronto,1903-1993, this interesting exhibition runs until February 18. Included in the 60-some panoramas are 3 Island scenes. The waterfront panorama of 1909, looking south to the Island, shows a long flimsy-looking sandbar,especially the narrow strip between Ward’s Hotel and the RCYC. The Ward’s Island Regatta of August 1919 has several hundred folks lined up on the edge of the Eastern Gap with canoes in front and the ornate iron Landing Stage at the right. In an RCYC panorama c.1920 looking SE, Billy Dean’s hangar for his airboat, The Sunfish, can be seen on Sunfish Island at the left. Another local scene shows the construction of the “ship channel” in June 1917 during the landfill work on the Asbridge’s Marsh area east of the Harbour.
The current exhibition, titled Pipe Dreams,deals with the exciting topic of Toronto sewers and watermains. Old and recent photos of the Island Filtration Plant are included. If you have not yet explored the new building (at 255 Spadina Road, just north of the Dupont subway station) it’s worth a visit just to observe the retrieval system–they use fork-lifts! Some of those boxes in the stacks were sorted by David Hustler, the only Algonquin archivist that I know of who has actually received formal training in the subject. Pipe Dreams runs until September 1996.
William Deverall, who wrote the original scripts for the TV series, has written a novel titled Street Legal: The Betrayal (McClelland & Stewart). Prior to publication, the CBC demanded changes in the text because of alleged copyright infringement. From the Star, October 21:
Deverell said CBC “tried to tell me that I could not use certain locales such asQueen St. (site of the law firm’s office in the series) because they had a copyright on that. They also tried to refuse my right to use Toronto Islands (where Leon lived) as a locale because they said they had a copyright on that.” Deverell just ignored that. “There’s no such thing as a copyright on a locale.” CBC, he said, “gave no firm reasons (for all its objections) other than ‘confusion in the marketplace.”‘ [Leon ‘lived’ at 21 Seneca.] DIANA ROWLAND
The December issue of Chatelaine contains a bittersweet Christmas story by Diana. In the words of the editor:
Diana’s an actress with a record of success on the first try. A gift of time is her first attempt at publishing fiction, after years of scribbling thoughts in journals. Diana recently performed her first movie stunt, taking a fake bullet to the shoulder. With only one extra blouse on set, crew members were relieved she only took one try to get it right.
Of the numerous fine designs for this year’s crop of new Island houses and renovations, special congratulations are extended to Roger & Charlotte for their incorporation of a traditional Island feature, and I am not referring to a tree in the living room! A house with afront gable containing a prominent semi-circular arch, usually with a balcony,was popular at the turn of the century, with the greatest concentration being on St Andrew’s Ave, the first street east of the Filtration Plant. Photos of several examples are in the Archives.
Fire Parade, August 4; Junior Masquerade, September 2; Blessing of the Animals, October 1; Story-telling Evening, October 7; Halloween Dance, October 28.Copies of photos taken at these events are available from the Archives.
Michael Davey donated 2 copies of the Toronto Star of September 29, 1947, found during recent renovations at 9 Ojibway. Looks like 2 workers brought their papers that day. The house was built in 1947 for Leslie & Barbara Fletcher and family, who moved there from 72 Hiawatha Ave at HanIan’s.Anne-lise de Haas donated 2 rolls of Island photos taken in 1980 and permitted acopy to be made of an excellent Al Schoenborn 8×10 of her former home, The Massey House, at 276 Lake Shore. Andy Lithgow wrote an interesting historical piece about this spectacular dwelling for the October issue of the QCYC Clipper. When the house was demolished in 1965, Anne-lise donated the fountain from the front garden to the QCYC where it presently resides, near the main entrance to the clubhouse. Two of Anne-lise’s snapshots show a well-known Islander surreptitiously removing street signs to confuse the Sheriff! Anne-lise also donated a SAVE ISLAND HOMES poster bearing a colour photo of 16 members of Rose Wilson’s family grouped in front of 4 Third. Why 4 Third? Simply because the photographer, Ursula Heller, thought that David and Tery’s house would make a good backdrop, according to Rose. Barry Lipton was clearing out a storage space in the City and he happened upon an LP which he had brought from Saskatchewan. Thinking the cover photo looked familiar, he looked again and sure enough, it is the Algonquin Bridge! The record contains songs written and performed by Bruce Cockburn, and the jacket and song booklet photos were taken by George Pastic during the winter of 1970-71. For anumber of years the Archives have been attempting to obtain a copy of a beautiful out-of-print book of art & verse published in England in 1985, and Graham Mudge is the blessed soul who finally managed to have a used copy sent over from Wolstanton by the Very Reverend Canon M A Corrigan. Its title is BURSLEM SATURDAY, A Nostalgic Journey in Words and Pictures,and it was written by our very own Len Barnett, who emigrated to the colonies in 1953.Burslem, where Len grew up, is one of the six ‘pottery towns’ in Stoke-on-Trent, and Len has returned to his birthplace many times. David Pitcher donated aerial photos of the RCYC taken in 1979 and back issues of Kwasind, the RCYCs glossy monthly newsletter. Bill Roedde donated a piece of his distinctive bird sculpture. Bill has been visiting a local landfill area for a number of years,and he recycles such items as pieces of driftwood, eroded bricks, bits of rusty rebar, and other urban detritus. When these components whisper goose or duck or whatever to Bill, he assembles them, and the results can be admired in his front yard and living room and now in the Archives’ Island Sculpture Collection. Lu Schoenborn donated a great batch of Island photos and negatives from the 1950s taken by her husband Al. The shots of folks coping with the high water of 1952 are highly entertaining. A large version of Al’s photo of the city skyline taken from Snake Island in 1957 with the ketch Andante framed by the pine trees hangs in the AlA bar, and I bought a copy of this beautiful photo from Al at the Christmas boutique. Hence, for me, one of the most interesting photos in Luis contribution is a shot of Andante which Al took a minute or so earlier, from a different angle. Andante was built in Nova Scotia, and her hull had beautiful lines, reminiscent of the Bluenose. She was owned by Bill & Catherine Smith, who lived at 20 Omaha from 1951-60. Martin ter Woort donated an album o f excellent 8×10 aerial photos taken in February 1994 for Steve Aikenhead’s tree survey. The above items can be examined during the regular Archives hours of 1-5 on any Sunday. If I’ve forgotten to mention your contribution, please remind me. 895 1995 – %Alm*
The RCYC tender Hiawatha was launched on July 9, 1895 from the Bertram Engine Works at the foot of Bathurst St. Following is an excerpt from the RCYC newsletter “Kwasind”, June 1995:
No certain knowledge exists in Club records as to the selection of the name Hiawatha, but it was obviously derived from the 1855 epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the time however, Indian names
were of great local interest with most street names on the
Toronto islands carrying such native-inspired labels as
Cherokee, Pontiac, Manitou, Cayuga, Ojibway and Mohawk. In fact, the island street leading to the clubhouse is still named
Chippewa. This fascination with romantic Indian names continued with the 1912 nam
ing of a still larger transport launch, the 70-foot Kwasind, who is described in the
Longfellow poemas Hiawatha’s great friend and “big strong brother.” Kwasind is still much
in her original appearance, and together with Hiawatha, per forming their function of carry ing hundreds of passengers daily back and forth between the city and the island. Surely, the most remarkable pair of vessels to serve any yacht club anywhere in the world.
Over the years, Hiawatha has suffered only the usual bumps
and scrapes, with one memo rable bow-crunching of the York Street dock when a reverse
gear failed to engage. In the summer of 1989, during a morning crossing to the Club with many juniors aboard, she was rammed amidships on her port side by a speeding 24-fooE runabout carrying her business man owner to the city.
Fortunately, no one was injured asthe runabout bow-mounted the rear passengerdeck, crush ing steel rails and railings, then subsided into the water with
serious damage to its fibreglass hull.
The perpetrator of the collision with Hiawatha was a former Gonlde who happened to be reading his morning paper at the time. Guess who! As you admire Hiawatha and Kwasind gliding backand forth from the city station at the foot of Parliament St, can you tell them apart? It’s easy — Hiawatha, with the longer name, has 7 windows on the side of her cabin, whereas Kwasind has only 5. Among the past and present Island captains of the tenders are Kenny de Haas, Fran Ford, Michael Haswell, Andre McConnachie, and Mark Millen.
Have you noticed the model of the Island lighthouse in the sculpture garden at 115 King St E? Following is the artist’s statement about this piece of work.Panya Clark is a 30-year-old Toronto native who won the Governor General’s Medal on her graduation from the Ontario College of Art in 1988. Her lighthouse will be on display until April 15, and it can be purchased from her or from the City Department of Parks & Recreation. It would make an impressive addition to your front garden, but a more useful location would be the western tip of Algonquin, acting as a beacon for late-night homecoming boaters searching for Sunfish Cm.-
Panya Clark is a granddaughter of the well known Russian-Canadian artist, Paraskeva Clark. The waterfall in the Toronto Sculpture Garden sparked my imagination. Its rapidly flowing waters are mysteriously supplied through the Garden’s east wall and conspicuously disappear into a grate at ground level. Could this be a cunning diversion of an ancient waterway long buried below the urban landscape? A map of 1827 reveals that a river did once flow past this lot. While that river was tamed for purposes of convenience, efficiency, economic value and development, perhaps its staged appearance still reveals an organic structure much larger than human intervention.
AT THIS POINT consists of two markers used in the navigation of waterways: a lighthouse and a buoy. The lighthouse is based on that on the Gibraltar Point of Toronto Island. Built in 1806 on a sandspit stretching out into Lake Ontario, today it is located well inland as a result of almost two centuries of landfill projects and storms. It has not been used since 1912.
Nevertheless, it serves well to mark the shift in its surrounding landscape.
Transported as a scale model to the Garden, the lighthouse signals an even greater shift in the urban landscape. Drawing us near we can peer into its window and catch a glimpse of what may exist below our world of lived experience. Allowing our imaginations to peel back the layers of time and place, AT THIS POINT acts as a residual warning that displaces the ground we stand on.
THE DAY OF THE BRIDGE
From Robert Fulford’s new book, Accidental City:
Perhaps it didn’t actually change anything. Perhaps the community would have been saved anyway. But in the mythology of the Island — that most romantic slice of Toronto, that embattled sandbar bohemia in the bay — the Day of the Bridge, July 28, 1980, was the most marvelous of days, the day when Islanders all stood firm in the rain and saved their homes and their souls, saved them from the bulldozers and the barbarians in the Metro parks department. Islanders remember where they were that day, as others remember where they were when they heard that John Kennedy had been shot.
From Liz Amer, as told during an evening of Island story telling at the WIA clubhouse, Saturday, October 7:
We knew which day the sheriff was coming because we had an informer in the Attorney-General’s office. He was in love with Alison Gzowsld, who was more important to him than the Attorney-General! In the morning, Jack Bradley received a call from David Allen, a spokesman for the Attorney-General, who wished to speak to the leaders o f the Toronto Island Residents’ Association. Ron Mazza and I were co-chairs. He said, “Representatives of the Sheriff’s Department would like to meet with representatives of the Toronto Island Residents’ Association. Would that be possible?” I said, “Yes. We will meet you at the foot of the Algonquin Bridge at 3:30.”
We were advised that they were coming across on the airport ferry. We blew the siren on the roof of the WIA Clubhouse, and everyone was alerted through the communications network to come home from work and proceed to the Bridge. The media were contacted. At 3:30, four hundred Islanders stood at the foot of the Bridge. The children in a row at the front held a banner which said SAVE US BILL DAVIS. At the side under a jury-rigged tarpaulin were every media outlet in the City, panting with anticipation, as we all were. It was extremely tense. Down the road came two sheriffs cars, an ambulance, and a TTC bus. Acting Sheriff Bremner and Deputy Sheriff Kashuba got out of their cars and were immediately surrounded by the press with 20 cameras and umpteen microphones and notebooks. Of course, the Sheriff was not expecting to be confronted by the press and 400 Islanders, and he looked nervous and confused. I grabbed his hand and said, “How do you do? I am Elizabeth Amer, co-chair of the Toronto Island Residents’ Association. We are 700 people. 200 of usare children. We are in a desperate situation. We are being thrown out of our homes with no compensation. We’ve got no place to go. All we’re asking you to do is give us 24 hours while we continue to work with the political people and the legal people. We’d like you to go back, take the boxes of notices, and take no further action until the political and legal matters are resolved, which we think is imminent.”
Bremner said, “That sounds reasonable!” But Kashuba said, “Mrs Amer, can you ensure that if we come back with legal notices of eviction that you will instruct your people not to obstruct the due execution of the legal documents?” I said, “I can’t do that. I await their instruction. They tell me what to do. I don’t tell them. We’ll have to wait on that.” Thereupon they got back in their cars, the 4 vehicles drove away, and the crowd cheered. As far as they were concerned, this was a tremendous success. But they hadn’t been able to hear what was said. Ron Mazza and I looked at each other and said, “Well, what happened, and where are we now? What can we tell people about what’s going to happen next?” We had no idea. Both Ron and I took turns climbing the ladder to try to explain what had happened, but we didn’t really know.
The fact that we made the national news and were covered in all the local papers did what we hoped it would do — that is, send the message to the Province that should this thing go ahead, it was going to be ‘a hell of a mess’. With a provincial election in the offing, the provincial officials would have to behave responsibly in this sensitive situation. Shortly thereafter, the provincial government announced that the writs of possession would not be executed. There would be a Commission of Enquiry headed up by Barry Swadron to look into the future of the Island Community and all the private uses on the Island. That was the turning point. From then on we really never looked back.
The above is a slightly edited excerpt from a transcription of Liz’s talk. Many thanks to Doreen Hamilton for organizing the entertaining story time on October 7, as well as on previous evenings during the summer. A tape recording of the October 7 stories is in the Archives. We should do it again!
GOALS AND STRATEGIES FOR FLYING SQUAD ( F . S . ) IMMEDIATE GOAL — STOP WRITS FROM BEING SERVED
STRATEGIES: ( A ) WHEN SHERIFF COMES WITHOUT POLICE SUPPORT:
1. i n t e r c e p t h i m (th e m) b e fo r e t h e y a r r i v e a t t h e house a n d : * a s k , ” a r e y o u h e re t o s e r v e t h e Wr i t s ? ”
* ( i f y e s ) t h e n t e l l h i m t h a t y o u want h i m t o r e t u r n t o t h e C i t y a n d t h a t y o u a r e n o t g o i n g t o a l l o w h i m t o s e r v e t h e Wr i t s .
* ( i f h e i g n o r e s o u r r e q u e s t a n d proceeds) we f o r m a human b a r r i e r and s t o p h i m fr o m a d va n ci n g .
Note: we e xp e c t t h a t a f i r m s t a n d b y F.S . w i l l b e s tr o n g enough t o f o r c e t h e S h e r i f f t o r e t r e a t , e i t h e r
to g e t f u r t h e r i n s tr u c t i o n s o r t o a s k f o r Po l i c e
support, a l s o
we w i l l i n t e r c e p t h i m (th e m) a t l o c a t i o n s t h a t s u i t
our p u rp o se s, n a me l y a t t h e b ri d g e f o r Al g o n q u i n and on Wa rd ‘s Green ( b e f o r e t h e y e n t e r t h e r e s i d e n t i a l
s tr e e t s ) f o r Wards.
(B) WEEN SHERIFF COMES WITH POLICE SUPPORT
1• i n t e r c e p t th e m and f o l l o w t h e same p ro ce d u re a s above
2. t h e presence o f t h e P o l i c e now e s c a l a te s t h e c o n fr o n ta ti o n and we ca n e xp e c t t h a t t h e y w i l l a tte m p t t o by—pass o u r b a r r i e r and move t o e a ch o f t h e houses where t h e y wa n t t o s e r v e t h e Wr i t s :
* we w i l l fo r m tw o o r more t i e r s ; when a p p r o p ri a te t h e f i r s t t i e r w i l l s i t down; when t h e P o l i c e ta k e s a h o l d o f someone (s)he w i l l g o l i m p ; n o one w i l l g ra b o n t o o u r member n o r w i l l we a t t a c k t h e P o l i c e ; w e w i l l a lwa ys a tte m p t t o have a new t i e r fo r m i n g once t h e Po l i c e p e n e tr a te s a t i e r . We become a mo b i l e b a r r i e r .
Note: we w a n t t o m a i n ta i n t h e r o l e o f Po l i c e a s a g re s so r and we a s r e s i s t o r s . “Th e y ” a r e d o i n g i t t o u s ; w e a r e
simpl y p r o t e c t i n g o u r homes a n d p r e v e n t i n g t h e e fr o m ta k i n g and d e s tr o y i n g th e m.
we d o n ‘ t s t o p u n t i l t h e S h e r i f f and P o l i c e g o b a c k t o the C i t y !
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
* d r e s s r e s p e c ta b l e , c a r r y n o weapons e x c e p t a p e n and p a p e r; * c a r r y I . D . a n d Wa l k i e T a l k i e * remove a n y j e w e l l e r y t h a t may cause yo u i n j u r y d u ri n g a s c u f f l e * t a k e d i r e c t i o n s fr o m M a r s h a l ‘s * when g o i n g l i m p d o n ‘ t t a l k ( i t te n se s y o u u p ) * d o n ‘ t l a y y o u r hand o n t h e P o l i c e * remember t h a t w h i l e we a r e p re p a re d t o g e t a r r e s te d we sh o u l d NOT d e l i b e r a t e l t r t o e t a rr e s te d . NEVER FORGET OUR GOAL
ALLAN RAE JUNIOR
The following piece by Frank Jones appeared in the Star on September 7. Allan Rae Senior and his wife Violet (sister of Dudley Davey) were the original owners of 3 Nottawa. Al Senior served asQCYC Commodore in 1943-44 and 1964-66. Al Junior, an architect, plans to submit a design for the new Island school, reminiscent of traditional Island architecture.
anangel will, I sus pect,be one of my en- during memories of
“Rent-A-Wreck!” I said, inspired.
emerged into the light with herhus- bandAlan. It could havebeena trick of the light, but I fancyhe waswear ing a halo. Alan Rae holds down an important
this benign summer of ’95.
“We don’t want an old banger,” shesaid.
position at theQueen City Yacht
He was not your standard angel E
“It’s not like that,” I said.And it
Club: he’sone of the old farts. But it was his skills asan architect that
with wings and soppy smile. Instead, . N
hehad a beard, his name wasAlan(51c) andhe’sa sailor. But his coming into
my life, literally from the outer dark- ness, to rescue me from embarrass mentand marital rift definitely had
the mark of divine intervention.
wasn’t.Even Rent-A-Wreck wanted $600.
Then, rashly, I boughta roof-rack —two metal struts with keysand in- structions howto install ski racks. Except that we don’t ski.
came into play first
Instead of latighing, he walked speculatively around the hippo car- cassand announced “You needa foundation there.” He added:”I’ve gota piece of plywood I used with
This spiritual encounterresulted T
“I’ll just strap the polesand tents
ourHonda.You canhave that” In a few minutes we’d retrieved the
from our decision weeks back to go E
ona family camping trip to Killbear R
ProvincialPark, nearParrySound, with two of oursons, their wives and w
across it with bungee cords,” I said. She didn’t believe a word of it The eve of our trip I spread a tarp on the roof, heaved up the load,and secured it. It looked as if a tired blue
plywood, all neatly drilled with holes, from his garage.He uttered nota word of criticism at my feeble bun gees.”You might need this,” he said,
All we lacked—since we sold our t
elephanthad flopped down on the roof of our car. Everything sagged.
producing some nautical-looking
Volvo station wagon last winter— wasa vehicle to carry ourgear.
Five minutes on Highway400and the
Then, just as if we were sailing the
Ona brief camping trip earlier
tarp would be flapping like a wind jammer in a gale.
North Atlantic ratherthan venturing
we’d stuffed everything, including the foammattress, into the back seatand trunk of the car. But this time we’d needthe big, old circus-sized tent (still with the rip put in it byaBay of Fundy raccoon that stole ourbacon). ‘We’ll rent a minivan,” said Aye sha. I kept mypeace. Forthe price of aminivan, I guessed,we could stayat afancy resort.
I phoneda couple of rentalagen- cies. Forthe eight days we’d need it the van would cost about$800.
By now it was &et and neither of usspoke. I took the load off again, stiffened it with folding chairs, and heaved it up. Her reaction asshe surveyed what nowappeared to beadead hippo sagging across the roof: “I’m not coming.” At that exact moment a voice came, God-like, from the darkness: “How’s it going Frank?” It wasour friend Elaine. A moment latershe
the400,he showed me patiently how to secure the load with clove hitches and bowline knots. “That should hold it,” he said. Indeed it did. Not only the load, but our marriage sailed north on oddly tranquilseas. I couldn’t, of course, quite remem berhowto do either knot coming home, but my bearded angelhas promised a refreshercourse.
I bet you haven’t met anyangels lately who knowthesheepshankand the fishermen’sbend.
HOW TO WORD THE REFERENDUM??? From the Star, October 30, 1974:
BESTLOCALGETAWAYdoAl Toronto Islands A J O L I ) gAS
A motion to Cit y Council today seeks approval of the wording o f a plebiscite question to be put to all city voters in the Dec, 2 munici pal election on the fate of Toronto Islands residential community.
The wording, recommend ed by Mayor David Crombie through the executive com mittee yesterday, is:
“Are you in favor of city council applying t o t h e Province of Ontario f o r
legislation to secure t h e preservation of the e)dsting residential areas on Toronto Islands wh i c h ot herwis e would be available as park- lands’.'”
Three suggestions f o r wording offered b y t h e Toronto I s land Residents’ Association were rejected by the executive in favor of Mayor Cromble’s proposal. ‘ They were:
1. Metro plans to evict the residents of the Toronto Is lands. Do y ou agree. o r disagree with this decision?
2. Are you i n favor of Metro evicting the residents of the Toronto Islands?
3. Should the residents be allowed to remain on Toron to Islands. or should they be evicted, and their houses be torn down?
Crombie said the question must be phrased to giv e council a clear indication of the public’s opinion on the fate of the Island residential_
“The worst thing that can happen is if it looks like a rigged question.”
-New York has Central Park but Toronto has something better o u r own islands, which not only serve as a playground for city dwellers but also sustain their own won derfully eclectic communities.
Under fire for the last decade from a city eager to develothe little gems, the islanders have fought the good fight, and thanks to the rollerbladers, bicyclists, canoeists and nature lovers who cram the islands in the summer, this t tally cool community remains an urban oasis. NOW read ers chose it as the best local getaway and the best place to rollerblade.