Island home, and island life, that was lost
Provenance: From the archives of Ted English
Digitized by: Ted English
Document: Toronto Star, from an original copy
Date: Not known
A Brief History of the Buildings and Businesses on Manitou Road, Centre Island, Toronto
MAIN STREET, CENTRE ISLAND, TORONTO, 1900s
AVENUE OF THE ISLANDS, CENTRE ISLAND, TORONTO
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BUILDINGS AND BUSINESSES ON MANITOUROAD, CENTRE ISLAND, TORONTO
BY EDWARD GUTHRIE
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.
MANITOU ROAD 1911
# 7? HANLAN’S BOAT HOUSE (James & Sara Hutchewson)
#13 NEW METHOD LDRY. ?
#15PUMBLECHOOT (Jane Dowely, Head, and Harry Williams)
# 17 STORE (Richard Glover, Mgr.) # STORE
#12 CITY DAIRY
#14 RESTAURANT (G.Orlando)
#18 HIAWATHA HOUSE (George H. Harrison)
#20 DUBLIN HOUSE
#25 HOTEL MANITOU* (Olive r & Maria Spanner)
#29 GINN’S STORE ( Frank Ginn ) SWISS LAUNDRY
#33 PRICE DAIRY (Fred Ginn) #35 GINN’S RESTAURANT #332 LAKESHORE, LAKESIDE HOUSE
#334 ELLESMERE HOTEL (PEIRSON HOTEL) (George Whitely, Head)
NOTE: Map from maps.library.utoronto.ca/FTP/ed/
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.
CLARK PROPERY, MANITOU ROAD, 1909?
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
MANITOU ROAD 1918
ENGLISH’S BOAT HOUSE CLARK’S YARD
NEW METHOD LAUNDRY PUMBLECHOOT HOUSE
WITTMAN’S GROCERY CITY DAIRY
PRIVATE HOUSE (LATER LAIRD’S) PRIVATE HOUSE (LATER BLINK- BONNIE)
SPANNER’S HOTEL SWISS LAUNDRY
GINN’S STORE CLAYTON’S MEATS
PRICE’S CASINO (DAIRY?) PIERSON HOTEL (MEAD’S)
BATHING STATION OR BATHS
PLAN BY TORONTO HARBOUR COMMISSION, 14 MAY, 1919
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:
ENGLISH’S BOAT HOUSE AND REFRESHMENT STAND AND JACKSON’S BIKE SHOP
NEW METHOD LAUNDRY
PARISIAN LAUNDRY, LATER BREWERS RETAIL STORE PENGUIN CLEANERS (late 1940s)
TRUSTY”S BIKE SHOP (LATE 1940s)
LAIRD’S CLEANING AND PRESSING
CLAYTON’S GROCERY AND MEATS
COLE’S BAKERY, LATER MRS. HELEN GREY’S GIFT SHOP CITY DAIRY, LATER BORDEN’S
ACME FARMERS DAIRY
DOMINION BANK, LATER HUGHES BEAUTY AND BARBER SHOP DOMINION STORE, LATER HUGHES MARKETERIA
GINN’S RESTAURANT AND CASINO
SHERMAN’S REFRESHMENT STAND.
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”.
TOMMY MCMILLAN, JOHN MCMACKEN, EDITH MCMACKEN, RUSS RIELLY, JIM WATT. (ATOP DELIVERY HAMPERS)
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.
AWAITING DEMOLITION 195914
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.”
MANITOU HOTEL 1911
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.
MANITOU HOTEL 1958
Immediately behind the hotel was a two storey house which was divided into several
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.
YE WAYSIDE INN, 40 MANITOU ROAD
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.
THE BEECHES 34 MANITOU ROAD
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.
Look what they’ve done to Toronto’s island
ROBERT THOMAS ALLEN, TORONTO
If you travel south through To Ironically this charming old back- About half of the islands’ you come to the downtown water, cut off from the city by a acres, or an area the size of Monaco, district, then to grimy brick whole- storm in 1858, is coming to its end has been levelled. Hanlan’s Point, sale houses, four-lane expressways, because of another high-water period on the western end of the main railway tracks, shipping sheds and that took place 10 years ago. Since four-mile hook that holds the other the usual jungle of a big-city water- the s become the victim of a 15 islands in the crook of its front. But if you keep going south, dreadful kind of muscular progress. began to disappear in 1936, with the by ferry, you come to a land of Toronto urning and bulldozing construction of the Island Airport lagoons and quaint humpback Island homes—old sideboards bridges where people ride bicycles chandeliers and all—in a plan to dren, a convalescent hospital to a park by live in 19th-century clapboard houses, 968 and present it to “the people” quarters for the Free Norwegian Visit one another by canoe and enjoy like a plastic pie plate. Old Islanders, air force, has since been flattened. the best of two worlds. They have a ome the third generation to be born – has city of 1,576,000 at their backs ith water between them and the householder, a cherubic, pinkwhere they can work during the Queen City, are migrating east alon cheeked, sandbar as their homes fall, Johnny Durnan, who is sitting there seldom smell and only see at its hoping that something will stop the surrounded by an uninhabited desert very best, across a mile of water, rocess. Most can talk for quite a of bulldozed rubble with 75 canoes, pale blue and romantic in the hile about Metropolitan Toronto’s skiffs and his own dock. The only distance. was of doing things, without repeat- ferry to his neighborhood is the cable ng a word. ferry that operates across the western gap to the airport. “I’ve got the only rowing skiffs in North America,” he told me, cigar – I boats are 60 years old. “My father and I made them, and they’re as aS neW. bout the only other reminder of human habitation in the western area is Gibraltar Lighthouse, erected in 1808 and the scene of one of S eeper for s gr en he used cl him t ath. There’s a water filtration plant for the city of Toronto, and the Island school, with an attendance of 1 il There n 1954; now 17 o e rooms are d as a year ‘roun natural science school for Toronto’s Grade 6 who explore an overgrown which the Metropolitan Parks Commission has ised to leave alone ? the middle of the main hook plus a big back island, has already been improved into a formal park without a soul living on it except at its eastern margin. hauled ashore the canoe in whic e Oa ‘the most beautifully executed mis take.’ The old Island community embraced advanced principles of . “It w were accessible to everyone. “Royal” for 109 years Not far from Anderson’s present home is the snooty Royal Canadian Yacht club, formed in 1852 and called “Royal” in 1854 when the club applied for permission and “Her Majesty was graciously pleased h their prayer. a 10 years ago on Muggs Island. It also has its own ferry, skippered th style and a flourish by a bearded ish – wi young Englishman prim lawns, cottonwoods, maples and picket fences and all doomed halts its policy. “Toronto has the most archaic expropriation laws in the western world,” said the wife of a CBC executive producer, E. E. Rollins, who lives in a solid old 18-room clapboard house on the lakeshore. MOURNING THE ISLAND THAT WAS the p park at Hanlan’s Point. Turning blue in the lake pin e sand a weekend y horses on the Island put to s work as plowing a path to the ancient lighthouse. Spring saw throngs returning, bag and baggage, by ferry. Not so pessimistic Islanders are among Toronto’s most hospitable people. Within a minute of calling at another house in this area, I was sitting down, a complete stranger, at a meal of roast beef and pan-browned potatoes with the family of a real estate b named Paul McLaughlin. After sup per he took me for a cruise around. not as pessimistic as some Islanders,” he said, stéering around a flock of green-winged teal. We ish “Ten years ago,” McLaughlin continued, “the city had what appeared unlimited money. Now, when the should be watching every buck, they’re not likely to spend all that money to acquire a few houses on this narrow strip when there’s so much unused land.” Algonquin Island, near the eastern end of the archipelago—a village of tree-bordered streets with names like Dacotah, Ojibway Ward’s Island, the eastern end of the hook, are the only other inhabited sections. “I came here 63 years ago,” said a 74-year-old Ward’s resident, Frank Staneland, who has nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren living within a gull’s cry of him. “I amped here with a friend. There were only two tents on the Island. | remember seeing Ned Hanlan race for a championship–l forget whom he was racing—I was keeping up with him in my rowboat for a while, till I gave out.” The Toronto islands were formed when wave action began to work away the high shore line of old Lake Iroquois (a high, ice-age Lake Ontario) producing Scarboro Bluffs to the east of Toronto and depositing was a great place for raising goats. At various times this eastern end of the isthmus was the site of a zoo, a starch factory, a salmon fishery, a racetrack and a Snug hide-out for mugglers. L sandbar were cut by 1On in separate islands, and subsequent dredging harbor for park improvement in 1903 showed 22 islands inside the hook. The land was granted to Toronto by the crown in 1867 and part of it leased for residential lots. Those days nobody was concerned about eases women’s”.) A lifeguard named Captain Andrews pulled 69 bathers and capsized boaters out of the water, and an early resident of Ward’s, Charlie Priestman, became so well known by walkin ? ferries. e Toronto Maple Leaf ball team played their games there, and there were rides and midway attractions, a dance pavilion, band shell, roller skating, a diving horse and exhibitions of tightrope walking. Manitou Rd. on Centre Island became the “main street” of the islands, and on Centre, as well as on Hanlan’s and Ward’s and Algonquin there settled a nucleus of Island and kids’ coaster wagons. The islands were at one time or another the home of Toronto’s two-fisted m McBride (who was using s long before the modern novelists), Mayor Stewart, Donald Fleming, Sir Casimir Gzowski, the Gooderham and Nordheimer New York American goalie Ja e Forbes, sculler Jack Guest and swimmer George Young. Hap Day, Turk Broda, Gordie Drillon a Jak Bankers like beachcombers in The Islanders, virtually all of whom held jobs in the city, were a boating breed and the only Torontonians who rowboat pools and many paddled their own canoes to work, skilfully dodging the bilge of tankers. A night editor of a Toronto paper used to take his two dogs to work with him and could be seen any afternoon headed in the direction of Toronto’s skyline as if he were goin at night like Athenians returning from banishment. One Han n lan’s Pointer, imp at sight of his native lagoons, eryone’s f sitting reading his paper, looking, to a stranger, like a lone passenger, would glance up at some remark made by someone in a nearby group and add a few comments as if he were in his own living-room. One regular passenger used to do setting-up exercises on the upper deck all the way to work. Missing the last boat either way stant hazard. One veteran t women to town by tug, fireboat, ice-breaker or anything else afloat. ? ioper who was terrified of pregnant women locked himself in the wheelhouse and made the expectant parents sit out on deck. The Islanders were given to wandering down to the docks in the morning finishing their toast an marmalade. The skipper of the ferry Jasmine hated to leave anybody behind and got later and later until – ight was leaving at re d the five-to-eig on ck waving as if seeing o the Queen Mary. Many skippers were OIT job so long they could have found the docks the way most people find the o in a bathtub. It was years passengers of the John Hanlan realized that that was pre e way the skipper th was doing it. He ran aground in a of everyone on board who could see the dock clearly. It turned out that his eyesight had become so bad he ad to fee defending forces of the Toronto police at King St. and was promptly beached. The ferry ride was magic In 1946 five ferries were carrying ? m land of strange and friendly people. During all this, Toronto politicians looked grimly toward the Island The city complained that the ferry service cost too much, said the let them use their verandas in rain OLDTIMERS CLING TO HOMES – and a friend camped on the Island. Now 74, he’s been coming back ever since, Island. He and his f his boat livery, now stranded amid the rubble of Hanlan’s Point. He lso runs a water-taxi to the Island. storms, lent them dry clothes and often never got them back, and, in en, made out old wooden bridge from the Don Valley to Centre Island and placing it in the middle of the park, connected to nothing at either end. In 1951 and 1952 the water table rose so high that Islanders had to 63 YEARS AGO Frank Staneland (above) headline of newspaper it sound like a . Toronto applied to Ottawa for help in stabilizing the sea wall and newspaper headline writers had a field day. (“Island “Home Rule’ Demand Rebuffed!” “Island Plan Must Take Back Seat to Defence!” “Ottawa Unmoved.”) There were defiant gestures. Mrs. Ina Claire Jackson piled up six summonses for operating a bicycle license. In the meantime, oldtimers took soundings outside and Island women, bound for evening festivities, hiked their evening gowns up over their handlebars, hung their evening slippers around their necks, and pedalled to the ball in their stocking feet, their toes dipping into the water. Island poets, of which “The Island moon is full tonight, ? d Broadcaster. – “That is no place for human habitation in the wintertime.” Mayor Lamport. “I walked tonight between the shadow and the light, upon the field and paused in deep content”—The Weekly lslander. “Harold Bradley, Street Commissioner, Proposes Rais Island With Garbage” Toronto Star. “Select refuse is not garbage”. “The Island is made for a thousand romances. When Life is so short, make love while you may”—Island Broadcaster. A unique asset destroyed this time some of the Islanders must have been making love under water. The islands needed building up in places; they didn’t have to be annihilated. But the city acted before the water subsided, be terminating the 638 leases and announced flatly that the islands were going to be made into a park, with no people living on them. A budget of $12 million was set aside for ld have been enough IUCe up the islands and he spots). To the horror of the Islanders slap of cottage doors. It was all tidy, filled-in, antiseptic and progressive. A dozen lawn sprinklers squirted me – as I walked Ward’s Island: “You know, I have a theory. You can’t have success without people.”
LIVES LIVED MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2001
H. James Watt Haematologist, oncologist, father, sailor. Born Oct. 24, 1950, in Toronto. Died Sept. 4 in Tuscany, Italy, of cardiac arrest, aged 70.
My sister Martha says that my father wanted to be a physician from the age of 4. I once asked him if he had ever wanted to be anything else and he said, No, I like what I’m doing, and besides I’m good at it. And he was right. Dr. H. James Watt grew up on Toronto Island and attended school in a one-room schoolhouse where he accelerated twice. His parents were of Scottish/English ancestry and owned Watt’s Coffee Shop on Centre Island. Little Jimmy, as he was known, grew up peeling potatoes while his mother Dolly baked as many as 30 pies on a summer’s morning. As a teenager, Jim Watt was a member of the Island Canoe Club and began paddling competitively, finally winning the Canadian Championships in 1947. He started at Jarvis Collegiate at 11, small and terrified, but by graduation had won 1 the 1947 Optimus Jim Watt Trophy. He also won a scholarship for medical school which he entered at the unprecedented age of 16. In 1953, he opened his first practice on Toronto Island making house calls on a bicycle, charging $2 a visit. When times were tough, his patients paid him with eggs and chickens. His career at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto began in December, 1958. At 28, he was the youngest specialist on staff, specializing in both oncology and hematology. He also founded the oncology/hematology department at the health centre. During his 43-year career, Dr. H. James Watt served as Chief of Staff for six years, Chief of Medicine for 10, and was also an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto from 1978 until his death. I always thought of my father as a doctor of the old school. He had a healing touch. He was kind and compassionate and lent an ear to all who were ill or in trouble. At the dinner table, he loved to discuss bone marrow transplants. He hated suffering, no doubt from having lost his own father at an early age. He rarely lost his temper, but he would become furious if the nurses had refused to give a dying patient morphine. My mother told me that he used to cry whenever his patients died.
For a man who faced death every day, he managed to cheat death more than once. He began having trouble with heart disease in the 1950s, culminating in an extensive bypass operation 18 months ago. He was not without faults, my father. He was impatient and forgetful. He was messier than a small child and way too fond of Scotch. But he loved people and had a great sense of fun. Summers he floated down the Credit River in a tube with his buddies. As an adult, he became a member of the RCYC and crewed on the Bristol Fashion. He travelled the world and Snapped a million badly focused photos. He took adversity in stride. When he was no longer able to sail, he bought a small motorized sail-boat and started the second RCYC, the “remote controlled yacht club,” with his friend George Stein.
He was married twice, initially to Janet Newman and, after her death, to Audrey Walsh. He leaves behind four children: Kelly Watt, Martha Watson, Andrew Watt, Cameron Watt, and grandson Robbie Watson.
He wanted to go out with fanfare and so, at the scattering of his ashes on Sept. 18, there was a New Orleans-style funeral procession (complete with jazz band) and a flock of white doves were set free into a blue sky. One week earlier, a memorial had been held for him at the hospital. A woman named Joyce got up to say how she had been diagnosed with cancer several years before, and, being a new arrival to Canada, did not have a health card nor the $28,000 for her treatment. My father treated her for free and saved her life. I have always adored my father but have never been more proud of him than I was in that moment. We will miss him always.
Kelly Watt is James Watt’s eldest daughter.