Chuck Singer: RCAF base on Lough Erne

Chuck Singer: RCAF base on Lough Erne

Chuck Singer: Back at his wartime base on Lough Erne

  • Created by: Patrice Dougan, Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)
  • Date: Sept 3, 2011
  • Provenance: Scanned & assembled by Ted English from an original copy
  • Notes: Chuck Singer, an Islander, operated Penguin Cleaners at 19 Manitou Road from the late 1940’s until the mid-50’s when he moved to Florida.


The Ferryboat Follies, CIA, 1951

The Ferryboat Follies, CIA, 1951

Centre Island Association. (1951) The Ferryboat Follies, 4th ed. Toronto Island, ON

The Ferryboat Follies of 1951

I am happy to join with the members of the Board of Control and City Council in extending every good wish to “The Ferryboat Follies Foundation” for the success of its Annual Show in Centre Island Clubhouse, the proceeds of which are used for the community programme of recreation for youth and children on Centre Island.

This is a worthy, voluntary citizen effort which, while presenting most enjoyable entertainment, contributes, as well, to constructive, recreational activities on the Island.

The members of the Civic Administration pay tribute to the officials of the “Ferryboat Follies” for their sponsorship of this public-spirited endeavour and express the hope that it will meet with every success.

Mayor, City of Toronto.
Leslie H. Saunders, J. Louis Shannon K.C., The Late John M. Innes, M.B.E., David A. Balfour
Board of Control and City Council.

  • Created by: Centre Island Association
  • Date: 1951-08-14
  • Provenance: From the archives of Ted English. Scanned by Ted English; PDF by Eric Zhelka
  • Notes: Pages 9 & 10 have part of the page missing.

Brief History of Manitou Road, Centre Island

Brief History of Manitou Road, Centre Island

A Brief History of the Buildings and Businesses on Manitou Road, Centre Island, Toronto

  • Created by:
    Edward Guthrie
  • Date:
  • Provenance:
    Researched with the help of members of Toronto Island Connections group. Scanned, OCR, & PDF by Eric Light
  • Notes:

The walkways in the photographs above, taken by visitors to Centre Island in 2013-14 are located on strips of land which at one time supported a very lively business community. That community on Manitou Road provided a living for numerous families and basic services and entertainment for people living on the Island as well as visitors to the Island. However, by 1959 the buildings on the street were demolished to make way for the development of parkland to meet the plans of the Metro Toronto Parks Department. Businesses on the ‘Main Drag’, Manitou Road, Centre Island
In her book “More Than an Island” Sally Gibson wrote “By the year 1905 Manitou Road, which ran from the bridge over Long Pond to Lakeshore Road, was already known as the ‘business street of Centre Island’ – complete with a new freight wharf near the bridge.”1 “Until 1884 there was no store—– then tall, thin white- aproned William Clark opened his ‘pio- neer store,’ which was a plain, unpainted shop raised on piles and fronted with a little veran- dah located on the east side of what became Manitou Road.”2
According to the Goad map of 1890 the store was located opposite what later became Iroquois Avenue.3 Around 1894-95 “few businesses lined Manitou Road. The Island Supply Company was using William Clark’s old place to sell high class groceries, fancy fruits, nuts, bread, and other necessities” as advertised in the Mail and Empire.”4
The City of Toronto Archives contain two interesting records dated 1909. On the 4th of Decem- ber a K. Hyslop applied for a building permit with “plans for the Temperance Hotel, located on Manitou Road on Centre Island, for Mr. Oliver Spanner.”5 General notes associated with the application state “This hotel looks like a very pleasant house with verandah from the front, but it extends a long way back to the rear. There are two stories with 49 rooms.”
1 Page 127, More Than An Island, Sally Gibson,1984 2 Page 101
3 Page 107
4 Page 119
5 City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 410, File 1485, Box 140927
The second 1909 correspondence consists of textual records re: “application of Fred Ginn, Manager of Price Dairy at 33 Manitou Road, Centre Island , to lease more land on part of lot 22 of Plan D441” from a Mr. Solman.
# 7? HANLAN’S BOAT HOUSE (James & Sara Hutchewson)
#15PUMBLECHOOT (Jane Dowely, Head, and Harry Williams)
# 17 STORE (Richard Glover, Mgr.) # STORE
#14 RESTAURANT (G.Orlando)
#18 HIAWATHA HOUSE (George H. Harrison)
#25 HOTEL MANITOU* (Olive r & Maria Spanner)
#334 ELLESMERE HOTEL (PEIRSON HOTEL) (George Whitely, Head)
NOTE: Map from
V3-1911-179.tif *likely Spanner Hotel in 1911
Names from 1911 Can. Census, Toronto, Ward 4.
Note: Differences between names on map and Census.
Sally Gibson continues “By August 1914, Manitou Road (also known as the Main Drag) boast- ed a wide range of services. Frederick Ginn now operated a grocery store as well as an ice- cream parlour. Ginn’s brother-in-law, Thomas Clayton, had opened a meat market next door. The Forsythe Laundry had (temporarily) joined New Method Laundry in an attempt to keep Is- landers clean. (In later years the Swiss Laundry and the Parisian Laundry joined in.) Oliver Spanner had created his grand restaurant.”6
6 Page127
By the early 1930s the “Main Drag….was the commercial lifeline of the Island. Hanlan’s Point and Ward’s Island each now had a small grocery store, but all Islanders depended on Manitou Road as well as the delivery services of both Eaton’s and Simpson’s for supplies. Clayton’s Meat Market and the Dominion store provided groceries. Mr. Marshall ….provided pharmaceuticals. The Dominion Bank opened a branch. The Farmer’s Dairy and the City Dairy still vied for customers, while several laundries struggled to keep men’s white flannels and la- dies dancing frocks pressed. And several restaurants catered to the needs of hungry Is- landers – from the fine dining at the old Pierson’s Hotel…to the more mundane fare at the newly opened Honey Dew.”7
In the late 1930s to 1940s, beginning at the Manitou Bridge and looking south towards Lakeshore Road, on the left hand side of the street were the following businesses:
7 Page 182, More Than An Island
The 1935 Canadian Voters List indicates a staff of four working at the boat house; George White, carpenter, Bailey, boat builder, Edward Warren, handyman, and Thomas Mitchell, carpenter.
The Refreshment Stand, 1959
As time went on an addition to the south end of the storefront became a Bicycle Rental and Repair shop operated by Freddie Jackson.
The next building, a store front with residence behind, was New Method Laundry, oper- ated by Mr. & Mrs. John Russell McMacken, assisted by Leonard and Robert McMack- en. A pick-up and delivery service was available or articles could be left at the store- front. The laundry was shipped to the city in light wooden hampers about 3’ by 4’ x 3’ in size where it was processed and then returned. Mrs. McMacken worked at the city loca- tion and ensured that all laundry from the Island was processed in a timely manner.
In the early 1900s this property was leased by the Clark family, possibly members Tom and Margaret Clark of Clark Limited, which operated the T.J. Clark freight boat to and from the city to the Island. A map from 1918 shows a building and yard at this location with the name “Clark Yard”.
Below; JOHN (RUSS) MCMACKEN ON BIKE , BOYS IN TRAILER (mode of delivery at the time, 1944-45).8
8 Photos courtesy of Edith Lang (McMacken)
Parisian Laundry operated by a Mr. & Mrs. Ted Wilson was the next building. Years later this building became the home of the beer delivery service of Hardy Cartage then Brewers Retail, operated by Johnny Orrick. Johnny also delivered ice for a sum- mer.
Brewers Retail prior to demolition, July 1958.
Hand written notes reflect data associated with demolition, ownership, condition of building and amount of settlement offered by Metro Toronto to owners.
In the early 1950s two buildings were constructed between the beer store and the hardware store. The first a one storey structure built by Chuck Singer as the Penguin Cleaners and shown as #19 Manitou Rd.
The second building was for Trusty Cycle.
In 1949 the hardware store was replaced as 43 Manitou Rd.
In relation to the demolition of homes and businesses Percy Miller long time operator of the hardware store described his experience with Metro in the October 2, 1957 issue
of the Toronto Star; “This place cost me $22,000 to build eight years ago, and I asked $35,000 for it from Metro because of the great business have built here. Do you know what they offered me? — and I guess I’ll have to take it– $17,000. I can’t start another business again. I don’t know what to do.”
Behind the hardware store was a large two storey house, no doubt originally a single family residence, but in my memory it was home to a number of families, much like many other large houses on the Island. This house had an unusual name, “The Bum- bleshute”. An earlier map of 1918 refers to it as the “Pumblechoot” And behind that was a small house, “Cozy Corner”, facing the lagoon that was the home of Lefty Fortner and his family of six children and a horse. I mention the horse because it was so important to him that it was allowed in the house during cold winter days. Lefty delivered milk during the winter months by horse and sleigh.
Next to Miller’s hardware was the building owned by Thomas Clayton, consisting of the grocery store and butcher shop. Mr. Clayton was a butcher by trade. At both sides of the grocery store were small businesses. The north end was Bob Laird’s Cleaning and Pressing business, and I remember a Cole’s Bakery occupying the south store for a number years then a Mrs. Grey operated a Gift Shop later.
This store may have been owned by a Mary Clark around 1903. A file exists in the To- ronto Archives consisting “ of textual records re: permission for Mary Clark, owner of a store and ice house on part of lot 22 at Centre Island, to lease her lot to grocer George Melhuish for the 1903 season. The store was on what became Manitou Road.”9 Check- ing maps of that era indicate that this was the only store which had an ice house on the same property.
9 Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 768, Subseries 2, File 43, Box 145254.
Photo 1954? (submitted to Island Archives , Ted Ring )
The buildings on Manitou Road from left to right; Brewers Retail, Penguin Cleaners, Trusty Bike Shop, Miller’s Hardware, Clayton’s Grocery, Borden’s Dairy, Dick’s Grill, Is- land Milk Bar (formerly Acme Dairy), Hotel Manitou.
The Toronto Archives contain a file, dated 19 February 1931, with the title “Dairy and store with dwelling over” a plan and specifications for a store and ice cream parlour with two apartments above, located at 35-37 Manitou Road on Centre Island for Thos. A. Clayton. This was for the construction of a large semidetached two storey building con- sisting of City Dairy operated by Mr . Crowhurst. In the mid 40’s Borden’s Dairy took over this business. The front of the Dairy contained a large room with a counter-type serving bar along one side and the rest of the room contained fancy wrought iron tables and chairs. It was here that one could buy ice cream sodas and sundaes . City Dairy was earlier located across the street on the corner of Iroquois Avenue.
Photo of Tom Hodgson at the rear of City Dairy , 941.
Note stacked milk cases, in foreground metal baskets for carrying bottles of milk.
(Tom became a noted Toronto artist. Photo taken prior to Tom’s entry into the Royal Canadian Air Force.)10
10 Photo by author
The other half of the building housed Dick’s Grill, operated in the ‘40s by Steve Preisinger, serving full course meals.
The upper floors of both buildings were residences and rooms for staff.
A large barn-like building used as an Ice House was located behind Claytons and City Dairy. The walls were insulated with wood chips and shavings and when the ice was drawn in during the winter months it was covered in wood shavings. During the sum- mer the ice was delivered by Roy Burton to the various businesses and homes. As time went on and refrigeration became available the ice house was demolished and re- placed by a warehouse for Claytons Grocery.
This photo from 1958 of Ted Ring shows a space between the hardware store and Island Milk Bar where Clayton’s , Borden Dairy and Dick’s Grill stood before demolition.
Then came Acme Farmer’s Dairy. . Beginning in 1928 Acme Farmer’s Dairy was oper- ated by Ed and Jessie Guthrie. The building located at 33 Manitou Road consisted of a small store in the front facing the street. Behind the store was small office and a room into which ice was stored to provide cooling for the milk storage room and the ice box in the store. As time went on this room contained refrigeration equipment. The rear of the building contained a small bedroom and a kitchen. On the second floor were four bedrooms and a deck over the kitchen. Access to the upstairs was via a door in the driveway. During the early 40’s a one storey addition was built to the rear of the build- ing to house additional ice cream cabinets. Ice cream (5 cents a cone) and milk (12 cents a quart) was sold at the storefront, Three men delivered milk to the Island resi- dences and milk and ice cream to the other businesses on the Main Drag, as well as to the variety of large picnics that came to the Island Parks. All of these deliveries made by hand drawn manpower, or bicycle. Milk for the picnics was delivered from the dairy in the city in 5 or 8 gallon metal containers. At the picnic the milk was either ladled out into paper cups or a hand pump was provided. The ice cream, delivered packed in dry ice in 5 gallon leather containers, was usually served in paper Dixie cups.
Acme Farmers Dairy under construction 1919.11
Note the building to the right of the dairy which must have been demolished before Mr. Clayton built the dairy bar, as noted above, in 1931.
11 Photo from City of Toronto Archives, Series 1317, Item 522
Number 33 Manitou Road. 1930-31
1940-42 Jessie and Ed Guthrie
The freight tug Aylmer in background. Ed Guthrie unloading milk off the freight barge 12
Eddie Guthrie in front of hand drawn cart 13
12 Photos by author
The Guthries spent their last year on the Island in 1949. A fellow Acme employee, Percy Emslie, took over operation of the business until demolition in 1959. Percy then con-
tinued to deliver dairy products to the remaining residents of Algonquin and Islands until his retirement.
13 Photo by author
14 Photos by E. Guthrie (author)
The next building to the south of the dairy was the Manitou Hotel, a three storey structure built 1909-1910. Number 27 Manitou Road.
According to the 1911 Canadian Census for Toronto South the hotel was operated by Oliver and Maria Spanner. A Toronto Island map dated 1918 refers to the building as the Spanner Hotel.
The following photo and description are from the “Canadian Summer Resort Guide Book” Published in 1912 by Frederick Smily, Toronto. Smily wrote “Hotel ManItou, Cen- tre Island’s newest and most up-to-date hostelry”…“The cuisine is unsurpassed and not to be compared with the usual run of summer hotel bill-of-fare. The Manitou is equipped with bathrooms, hot and cold water, toilet rooms, new grill and dining rooms, with hardwood floor, available for dancing etc. It is lighted by electric light throughout. There accommodation for 150 guests (200 in dining room), rates are $2.00 per day, $10.00 to $15.00 a week. Contact Mr. O.B. Spanner, Hotel Manitou, Island Park, Toronto.”
The Manitou Hotel was the largest building on the street, three storeys at some points on the front of the structure. The hotel contained a large sitting area on the left side as you entered the front doors with a small restaurant on the right. On the first floor access to rental rooms was made off a hall that ran down the middle of the building and at the back was a large room with hardwood floors where dances were held. During the 40s this room became a beer parlour.
Bill Sutherland and family were the owners of the Manitou from 1929 to 1959.
Bill Sutherlandwasseenasarealinnovator.Heopenedabeerhall,builtaminiature golf course, built a small stand out front from which he sold soft ice cream, bought a doughnut making machine to produce and sell fancy doughnuts, built a terrazzo out- door dance floor, known as ‘The Deck’, with a sound system for jitney dances, and at times brought in dance orchestras from the city, held Teen dances, had an archery range as well as the usual tennis and badminton courts.
Immediately behind the hotel was a two storey house which was divided into several
rental units.
Note: All Advertisements are from the Centre Islander, 1945-46
During the 1940s Jack Fordham operated the Roselawn Dairy from a storehouse in the rear of the hotel and a small storefront in front of the hotel.
However, due to competition from the two larger dairies this business did not survive. Mr. Fordham then opened a laundry and dry cleaning business.
The next building towards the Lakeshore housed the Dominion Bank, Percy Hughes Barber Shop and a Dominion Store. As time went on Percy took over the whole building Which then contained the Barber Shop, a Beauty Parlour, a Variety Store and Hughes Marketeria. The back of the building and the second floor consisted of the Hughe’s residence and rental apartments.
The 1918 map of Manitou Road indicated Clayton’s Meat Store as the southern portion of a building and Ginn’s Store as the other portion, located where Hughes Groceteria was located in the 40s.
MANITOU RD. MERCHANTS (front of Hughes property, Manitou Hotel in background)); RIGHT TO LEFT; PERCY HUGHES, BILLSUTHERLAND, ART TYNDALL, & VINCE LAMANTIA. 1942.
According to the Assessment Rolls, June 1954 Hughes had leased the gift and tobacco shop to Alexander and Reta Dalby, and the barber shop and beauty parlour to Carlo Herto. Hughes continued to operate the groceteria until it became Morton’s.
Then came the large building occupied by Mr. Ginn as a restaurant, the Casino Dance Floor and a store front that sold soft drinks, ice cream etc. operated by Fred Sherman. The favourite drink at this refreshment bar was Root’s Beer sold in ice cold mugs.
The photograph below, from the 1950s, shows Hughes Marketeria, the Casino Restaurant, the Casino dance floor converted to a bowling alley operated by Kris Kantaroff, and the refreshment store front under the management of Chris Pavio. In the right background can be seen the bathing change building on Lakeshore Road.
Before renovations the Casino had a roof above the front first floor windows supported by decorative square pillars.
The assessment Rolls of 1954 show Agustino Lamantia as the owner of these buildings.
Across the street on the Lakeshore was the building housing City restrooms and bathing change house.
Let’s return to the Manitou Bridge.
On the ferry boat [north] side of the bridge was located the Park Manager’s, home Mr. William Potter, surrounded by beautiful gardens, and all the duck and other water fowl ponds and enclosures.
Of course one could not miss the old Merry-go-round operated by Mr. Reed, who also managed the picnic pavilion and a refreshment store. In earlier years the Pavilion was a very popular dance hall.
Returning to the Main Drag, immediately on the right was a small freight shed, part of the Freight dock where most of the goods arrive from the city by the tug boat Aylmer. The photos below show the changes in buildings that occurred over time.
This 1928 photograph shows the variety of two and four wheel wagons used to haul the merchant’s goods. An Acme Dairy wagon can be seen beside the shed on the left.
The buildings in the background are without signage. Over time they became English’s refreshment stand, New Method Laundry and Parisian Laundry.
The freight boat T.J. Clark delivered goods in the earlier period. 15
15 Photo by Ted Ring
Also moored at this dock was the fireboat the Charles A Reed.
The Fire Hall was the next building. The firemen of the time would ride a pair of Harley Davidson motorcycles to and from the ferry docks, the only motorized vehicles. Imme- diately behind the Hall was a horseshoe pitch. Often the merchants would play a game of horseshoes while waiting for the noon freight boat, Aylmer, to arrive.
Police Station and Fire Hall , 1950s.
One spring upon our return to the Island we found a new Police Station under construc- tion beside the Fire Hall, a small holding cell included.
There was many a fun filled pick-up ball game played on the small area park behind the police station, girls and boys included.
Iroquois Avenue branched off to the west next with the two storey Ye Wayside Inn situ- ated on the corner. Until about 1931 this building was the home of City Dairy.
The photo of the interior was included in this advertisement “Our plant at Centre Island, Toronto, equipped with refrigerating units, also Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour.”
The building then became a restaurant owned by Mr. & Mrs. William Alexander, with residence above. A 1935 Canadian Voters List shows that a Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Din- don were also associated with this restaurant. This was later taken over by Mr. & Mrs. Wetzel who added a one storey building extension to the south which served as a cof- fee shop and refreshment stand. Latterly the business was under the ownership of Art Bowden and later still Fran Hutchinson.
16Photo in poor condition, however shows coffee shop in 1940s.
In the mid – 1940s an outdoor bowling alley was built in the lot to the south of the Way- side Inn. The 1954 Assessment Rolls records Robert Andrews of 40 Manitou Road as an operator of an outdoor bowling alley. Jimmy Jones remembers, as a teenager setting pins at these alleys.
Mrs.AnnieLairdandhersonBobownedandoperatedthesinglestorey building,‘The Beeches’, containing a number of small apartments at 34 Manitou Road. The author and his wife spent their first winter on the Island here. Although, like many Islanders, we had no inside plumbing conveniences, we hauled water from a tap on the front lawn, which was left running all the time to avoid freezing, we survived the winter quite com- fortably with our small Coleman oil space heater, purchased from Buster Ward. The pipe did freeze one time and Bill Sutherland was called upon to thaw out the pipe using a car battery with wires attached to the tap at one end and the city connection at the other end.
In front of and to the south side of Lairds Raymond and Josephine Hamstead operated a fish and chip stand.
The photo below shows Mrs. Wetzel of the Wayside Inn delivering a pie to the Guthries. Note the hut in the background which contained four telephone booths. (front of # 33 -34 Manitou.)
The “Blink Bonnie” was the next building, a two storey house with a veranda across the front. The home was owned by Jean and Jimmy Watt’s grandmother .Over the period of time the building underwent numerous renovations and housed the Helen Gray Gift Shop and Toronto Laundry. In the early 40’s it was purchased from Mrs. Watt by Aquila Skene who operated a bicycle shop.
A major renovation to the original Blink Bonnie by Mr. Skene to accommodate a restau- rant operated by David and Christine Barton
Next to the Blink Bonnie was the restaurant Watt’s Coffee Shop owned by Mr. & Mrs. Fred Watt during the 1930s, a two storey building with rooms above the restaurant. From 1939 to 1943 the business was operated under lease by Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Jones. Then in 1944 Mr. Earle Reginald (Buster) Ward purchased the building from Mrs. Watt and opened the Honey Juice Coffee Shop.
Mr. Ward was involved in a variety of Island businesses prior to this venture; cartage and contracting, fruit retailer, the Island representative of Copeland Breweries in 1934, and of Canada Bud in 1935. He and his wife Nina lived over Perce Hughe’s store in 1934 and Mr. Ed English’s in 1936.17
17 From the Centre Islander, August 30, 1946
Following article regarding the Wards by Alan Woods for the Aug. 30 issue of the Centre Islander and printed in News from the Archives June 1996.
The next building to the south, # 20 & 22 Manitou Rd., was a single storey divided into two businesses. The first was Honey Dew, famous for their Orange Drink and Ritz Carl- ton Hot Dogs. You could buy a take – out order of Orange Juice packaged in a waxed cardboard container with the waxed paper cups included. The other half of the building housed Marshall’s Drug Store. Later (1938-39) taken over by Mr. And Mrs. Arthur Tyn- dall, who later again expanded and took over the whole building when Honey Dew closed. The Assesssment Roll of 1954 records Mr.Earl Ward as propieter of the drug store.
On the right; Watt’s Coffee Shop, Honey Dew, and Marshall’s Drug Store. ( late 1930s)
Thomas Clayton and his wife Elizabeth strolling in the high water in 1952. Note that the Tyndall name no longer appears on the drug store.
18 -20 Manitou Road, 1958
According to the 1918 map the next two storey dwelling was known as the Swiss laun- dry. However, as time went on the northern half became a store for Toronto Laundry and Dry Cleaners operated by Richard Barrett, and also Mrs. Redican’s Home Baking, and the other half Lamantia Brothers, Vincent and Peter, Fruit and Vegetables. During the early 40s the Lawless family who lived in the upper apartment opened the store as a tea room. In the photo above #20, beside the drug store, is seen as a coffee shop.
At the end of the street was the Pierson Hotel, formerly Mead’s, operated by Mr.Wier . A grand white three storey building with a veranda all around the ground floor and overlooking the lawn and bowling green on the east side and the lakefront on the south. Although the hotel had a Lakeshore address the Waffle Shop and Snack Bar had an entrance off Manitou Road. The rear property contained a number of smaller buildings which provided living quarters for the staff.
By the end of 1959 all of these buildings on Manitou Road had been demolished and razed.
Not all Island business was conducted on Manitou Manitou Road. Here are some adver- tisements from the Centre Islander of the 1940s.
Harry the Baker was popular.
Ken Sinclair and Henry Argent were among a number of men in the cartage business.
Some general ads follow.
A collection of hand carts used to carry goods from the freight docks to stores. The cart on the right with two large wheels was used by the dairies to deliver milk to customers. Circa 1928. It was the mid 1940 before trucks were allowed on the Island for delivery purposes, only in the winter months to start and eventually year round.
Edward Guthrie lived on Manitou Road during the spring to fall months from 1929 to 1948. Then spent 2 full years on Manitou and Iroquois Avenue. He knew most of the business men and women on ‘The Drag’ and during his teen years worked for the Tyn- dall’s at the drug store, Clayton’s grocery, New Method Laundry and latterly for Percy Hughes at his grocery store. On occasion he would help his father deliver milk and work around Acme Farmers Dairy.


Bill Durnan, Fixture on the Islands

Bill Durnan, Fixture on the Islands
Fixture on the Toronto Islands – William Arthur “Bill” Durnan
  • Created by:  Toronto Star
  • By-line:  Ashante Infantry
  • Date:  2003-06-02
  • Provenance:  From the collection of Ted English, digitized by Eric Zhelka
  • Notes:  Obituary

Bill Durnan, 87, Fixture on the Islands
Born, Lived, and Worked There
Last of 4 Islands Generation
Ashante Infantry, Obituary Writer

In retrospect, one’s childhood often seems idyllic. Bill Durnan recalled his as utopian.
He was born on Hanlan’s Point into an Irish family that was among the earliest settlers of the Toronto Islands.
When he was growing up — prior to World War II and the development of the island airport — people flocked to the 10,000-seat Hanlan’s Point Stadium, where baseball Keep reading →

The Forgotten Idol – Ned Hanlan

The Forgotten Idol – Ned Hanlan
The Forgotten Idol – Ned Hanlan
  • Created by: Maclean’s Magazine, byline: Fergus Cronin
  • Date: 1953-06-01
  • Provenance: From the collection of Ted English, digitized by Eric Zhelka
  • Notes: 1880’s – “The Boy in Blue”

Ned Hanlan, a chunky Toronto Islander, rose above shady promoters and fixers to bring Canada its first world Title in the days when baseball was a pup CANADIAN in Paris in 1917 was to a friendly Frenchman. “I was in Canada his way to his first big victory; in several of his suspected; and even shortly before his death in 1908 a local storm blew up about whether he should be appointed Toronto’s harbor master. hockey and baseball are today. And for betting, it can only be compared to horse racing. Ten and twenty thousand people would turn out to Lake St. Louis, the Welland Canal, Kempenfeldt Bay or the St. John River to watch the giants of those days fight it out with sculls. And Ha f those giants, measured only five feet, eight and three quarter inches and weighed about one hundred and fifty pounds. Known throughout the world as Ned, he became champion sculler of Canada at twenty-two, at twenty-four and at twenty-five, champion of the world. We over him, scarves bearing his picture were the rage, snuffboxes, ties, shirts and belts were sold with Ned’s name or picture on them. The second son of John Hanlan, a Kingston boatbuilder who became the first leaseholder on Toronto Island, Ned was born on July 12, 1855. His first attempt with outriggers was made in a novel craft he designed and built himself: a two sharpened at both ends and equipped Amateur championship of Toronto Bay and won. for the next eleven years, until he hit the downgrade at twenty-nine, he took part in about three The sliding seat had made its appearance in racing shells in 1871, allowing the oarsmen to get a longer sweep-in effect, lengthening the arms and the stroke. Hanlan became known as “the father – it in a single-seat shell and mastered its use. – In 1874 Hanlan met and beat Thomas Loudon in a race for the championship of Burlington Bay, as Hamilton Bay was them called. (Loudon was the great-uncle of Thomas R. Loudon. professor at the University of Toronto, who was the Canadian in Paris in 1917, mentioned above.) was launched when two lengths. The same season he won the governor general’s medal for a two-mile race at Toronto, and championship of Ontario, his oniy opponent being William McKen. The big regatta on the horizon at that time was to be held in Philadelphia in May 1876, to celebrate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. McKen had been planning to compete, but decided it looked so good as a money proposition that he teamed up with Hanlan, Ned doing the training and McKen placing bets in the poolrooms at night. Hanlan almost failed to get away from Toronto. He had sold some liquor on the island without a Or hìS arre ? permit and a warrant for his arrest was issued tw days before he was due to leave. Friends he about it, and that night he was hidden in a friend’s house e following day police cornered him in the Toronto Rowing managed to lude them, hopped into a skiff an ? ter a just leaving for Lewiston, N.Y. Police spotted him skimming away, but his reputation as an oarsman discouraged pursuit. In the first heat of the centennial race Hanlan. d in the second he defeated the next best oars . By this time the gamblers had lost so heavily they were looking for Hanlan. McKen and Hanlan together and McKen would leave Hanlan in bed at nights while he made the rounds of the taverns, so many mistook McKen for Hanlan. g im and he was taken back to Toronto on a stretcher, suffering from violent poisoning. Hanlan not only won the single sculls at Philadelphia, beating the best oarsmen of America and a couple from England, but he did it in a record time. the bright-eyed, pink-cheeked, curly-haired little fellow tops in the sport He rowed in a blue shirt, and thereafter he always “the Boy in Blue.” – Hanlan’s triumphant return to Toronto was in direct contrast to his ignominious departure. A huge crowd gathered at the dockside to meet his steamer. Ned ized and seated atop the larg est hook-and-ladder wagon Toronto owned, and Hail to the champion sculler! Toronto’s manly son, Who across the line, and on the Tyne Hath famous victories won… For the next eight years the world was Hanlan’s oyster. A host of supporters sprang up to form the Hanlan Club, putting up an initial twenty dollars apiece to pay Hanlan’s expenses and bet on his races. The charter membership included the U. S. consul, Col. Albert Shaw. Ned t yet the official Canadian champion. Alex Brayley, who had been favored for the Philadelphia race, returned Continued on Years after his crowd. was presentation to Canada and was beaten for the Canadian title by Wallace Ross, of Saint John. Ross then challenged Hanlan to mile event, the usual championship distance in those days. Ross was an eight-to-one favorite when the race took place on Toronto Bay, but HanA return lan won e Rothesay, N.B., the Kennebecasis River, the following has described in detail in many rowing annals. Both men, amid the wildest enthusiasm, struck the water simultaneously . . . At the half-mile mark Ross was pulling a fiery stroke of thirty seven and Hanlan a great sweep thirty-two per minute, with Hanlan a length ahead. With no increase of effort, at the mile mark Hanlan had doubled his lead. as a stroke that must have been wrenching him apart, Hanlan, after seeing that Ross was safe, went over the course… To the Canadian crown Hanlan soon I peak, Hanlan (top, left) could still draw a He’s grasping his son Gordon, who n was killed in 1917. of a silver service at City Hall. his next significant race was in Oct. 1878, at Lachine, Que. It was the first of what was to become the famous Courtney-Hanlan series. These races by cracker-barrel oarsmen. Hanlan’s honesty but, at least to the his name was later cleared. The first race against Charles E. Courtney, of Union Springs, N.Y., U. S., real. Hanlan won by a mere one and a Windsor Hotel after the race. A lot of money had been won and the following October at Chautauqua Lake, N.Y. Interest in the race became feverish. A grandstand for fifty thousand spectators was erected. An observation train half at afloat promised to follow the race never took place. The morning of the day it was scheduled, Courtney’s shell was found sawn in haif. In a book published in 1923 (Courtney and Cornell Rowing, by C.U.P. Young) it was suggested that Hanlan “whose convivial habits were well known” had imbib before the race. His backers became alarmed and tried in vain to have draw, but again Courtney refused and “before the morrow dawned those whose bribe had been spurned were avenged.” H. J. P. Good, sport writer for two Toronto papers and an origi ernber of the Hanla of six thousand dollars, the first to go †n Hanlan the third to the best man. In each instance the loser was to receive two thousand out of the purse. “The arrangement,” said Good, “was made entirely without the eonsent or knowledge of Hanlan, who, I am willing “Hanlan was then told of the arrangement,” said Good, “and his reply was that if he were not allowed to win if he could he couldn’t be hauled from the boathouse with a logging chain. Of course the Courtney party got on to the result of his trial row over the course which had been staked the boat was 39 The referee ordered Hanlan over the course on the day of th which he did, with two or three pauses, in 33:56, a time which stands to this day as the fastest for five miles with a turn. The purse was to have been given by the owner of a brewery, but he refused to pay on a “row-over.” So the pair met again on the Potomae at Washington in May 1880. In that race Courtney was so far behind at the halfway mark that he dropped out. In a tribute to Hanlan years later, James C. Rice, onetime coach of Columbia University, said: “I know personally that Hanlan was offered thirty thousand dollars to quit in a tempt to bribe him.” By 1879 Hanlan had beaten so he went to England. In May he beat John Hawdon for the champion and the followin ed William Elliott, also on . Trains brought speetators by the thousands. The crush of boats on the river made navigation almost impossible. less bet freely in small sums on their champion whom they believed invincible. Lawyer Kerr rhymed: The champions take their stations, Promptly each takes his place In the sight of all the nations Of the Anglo-Saxon race. “Now, three to one,” roared Elliott, “That I lead all the way!” And his stalwart arm and lusty form Might feebler foe dismay. But it was Hanlan’s craft Toronto that led all the way. He won by ten boat lengths and broke the record for the course by fifty-five seconds. Then from the river’s crowded banks, From roof-top, bridge and pier, Thrice thirty thousand lusty throats Sent up a mighty cheer; And many a British city Caught up the wild acclaim, And the western world from Sea to #Sea Resounded with his fame. Another civic reception was arranged home. will give an entertainment at 8 o’clock sharp. An will be presented by the Mayor about 9 o’clock, to which the Champion will Champion will appear with his boat, in full racing costume. Tickets will be sold at 50 cents no reserved seats The scene of the arrival was painted in oils by William Armstrong, and hangs still in the Toronto home of one of Hanlan’s daughters, Mrs. C. H. S. Michie. Dated July 15, 1879, it shows five old sidewheelers crowded to the ounded of little boats. On the leading steamer a tiny figure stands on a platform high in the was how the Boy in was still but one feather from the chunky sculler’s Triekett, the first Australian to have Interest in the outcome It was scheduled for it at wrote a ian newspaper from Newcastle: This meeting between Trickett and Hanlan will be the even in the rowing annais of the year—if not of the century . . . Triekett’s friends spoke of Han lan as a small man – but I reminded them of the r k made by the ferryman near Pittsburgh, that “the more clothes he takes o the bigger he gets,” and suggested that when he measured speed with their six-foot-sixer, the little m might look the larger of the two. The odds changed from two-to-one on Trickett to two-to-one on Hanlan as an estimated forty-two thousand masterful spurt. The erowds eheered and the nervy Ned drew near the bank rowing with alternate oars. Twice more Hanlan paused, once his hotel, the Bull’s Head, its fellow Hanlan had established himself as later made considerable money performing on the water. One of his best tricks was rowing with only one scull straight across the Thames and back again. d to Toronto via New played the aquatic solo.” In Toronto he was accorded another reception by mayor and citizens. The following year, 1881; he rowed on the Thames again, this time against Elias C. Laycock, of Australia, for the Sportsman Challenge Cup, and won it winning it for ail time. It is one of the most impressive cups in sporting history, standing about three feet high. It is still in the p – f Mrs. Michia A Great and Unique Skill Those were great days for the rowing game. The first official race between Y and Harvard was held in 1852, although Oxford and Cambridge had been racing on the Thames since 1829. Fortunes colorfully named Lakes Winnepesaukee, Minnetonka, Quinsagamond and Creve Coeur, the konk River, Lake Couchiching and wnyan Lake. Ned Hanlan rowed and won in them all. In 1880 there were at least a score of regattas were held at least once and sometimes twice a year. Cities like Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal sponsored annual regattas. Youngsters asked their parents for gigs, wherries, dinghies or common rowboats is time, rowing was largely a matter of strength; Hanlan add and was at once the master of the me. When he beat Elliott on the Tyne it was seriously suggested that he must have had a propelling machine in his boat. With air-bags and machinery, The miners stoutly held, Or by some secret influence His skiff must be propelled, For never such a sculler Of form so lithe and fine Or such modest mien, had yet been seen On the Thames or the Tyne. Some claim Hanlan was the first real champion of the world—of any v London that there was world-wid representation. Trickett challenged Hanlan in 1892 and they met on May 1 on the Thames with stakes of five hundred pounds. Hanlan won by ne a minute and a half and, after passing the turning sta e spun around an – back of tw – Trickett’s last appearance in a firstass match, and who can blame him? Standing on Lake Ontario, this $17,000 statue honors the first world champion Canada ever had. The next challenger was a dour Australian, William Beach, a blacksmith from the village of Dapto, New South r In ra ve gone because, as world champion, he could dictate the locale of the race. But he had not yet been to the southern hemisphere and the adventure appealed to his restless spirit. was written on this side of the world of his defeat by Beach. One report said gram commented, ue to unfavorable climatic politics. Hanlan’s Hotel, which he had displayed a huge collection of his trophies and souvenirs. In 1898 he was elected a Toronto alderman, was re-elected once but defeated for a third term. had married Margaret Gordon Sutherland, of Toronto, formerly of Brantford, Ont., in 1877 and they had His wife ? – ur dau rs still living: Mrs. Michie, -Margaret and Aileen Hanlan, of Toronto; and Mrs. Alfred Hafner, of Portland, Me. When Hanlan died on Jan. 4, 1908, at fifty-two, papers in every part of Canada carried editorials about him. ever moved faster than Hanlan was given a civic funeral, and probably ten thousand people filed past his bier. A death mask was taken. Years later “The last outings Ned had with shortly before his th when, on the odd Sunday morning, he’d pile on three or four old sweaters and the ’s “gig’ a walrus, then, dripping and refreshed, resume. The Boy in Blue never really grew up.” Ned Hanlan flashed across the pages of the world’s newspapers of seventy five years ago, but mementos will kee his name alive for many years yet. A six-by-ten-foot painting of him hangs a sculler in the world. It National Exhibition, looking over the waters where Ned first learned to row. In 1936 the late Dr. A. R. Carman, Star. wrote of Hanlan that “no citizen of Canada was so well known throughout the English speaking world. And Lawyer Kerr put it in verse: While Ottawa, from storied cliff, Uplifts her crown of towers; While modest merit still shall charm a of ours; So long in distant story, As time rolls on apace, Shall it be told by young and old How Hanlan won the race.