News from the Archives v03-4
- Created by: Albert Fulton
- Date: 1994-12-01
- Provenance: Collected by various members of the Toronto Island Connections group, scanned by Edward English, OCR by Eric Zhelka, PDF by Eric Light
- Notes: v03-4
DECEMBER 1, 1994
SEAWALL EXHIBITION, September 18 & 25.
On display were Harbour Commission photos of the original cedar and rock structure built in 1882-1888,and the construction of the present boardwalk and seawall in 1937. The bulk of the exhibition was gleaned from more than 200 high quality photos lent for the occasion by Thelma (Tommie) Murdoch, who lived in the upper duplex at 170 Lake Shore until the building was demolished in 1968. Most of these photos were taken by professional photographer George Lofts, the Murdochs’ neighbour at164 Lake Shore. Tommie kindly consented to having copies made,and many of these excellent photos have been added to the Archives’ Seawall album.
Before the addition of the splash cap in 1952 and the construction of the Leslie Spit during the ’60s and 1
action and flooding. With a strong easterly, the waves built up over almost the whole length of
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Lake Ontario before hurling themselves at the Island, which jutted out into their path. Oldtimers
t h e
speak of thunderous booming sounds from the seawall, accompanied by shaking and rattling in
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the Lake Shore houses. The Lofts photos show spectacular splashes high into the sky with r d w
considerable damage to the boardwalk and properties after the major storms. a l k
After viewing these photos, Joan McDonald was reminded of home movies made by the Van a
Camp family during the ’40s and ’50s. The Van Camps lived at 104 Lake Shore, between the n
Rectory and the Shaw house, and their movies recorded wartime parades on Ward’s, sailing on d
the Bay, and water spectacles on the boardwalk. During high water 1952, the Van Camp boys can a d
be seen rowing their boat over the present path between the bridge and the boardwalk! Barry j a
Van Camp lent the films (spliced together) to Joan, and a video copy has found its way into the Archives.
Before their marriages, Joan and Yvonne Vandebelt (the late Vandy Stein) spent the winter and summer of 1954-55 in the Lofts house at 164 Lake Shore. Later tenants at the same address
were the Chantler family (1 Dacotah) and Nina Handley & her sons (22 Omaha).
ELECTION RESULTS (courtesy of Graham Mudge & Kay Walker)
Mayor: Hall 82, Rowlands 18, Meinzer 9, Kerr 2, Friedland 1.
City Councillor: Leckie 82, Lau 23, Karagianis 2.
Metro Councillor: Chow 81, Valentine 25.
Board of Education: Brown 72, Campey 61, Goossen 24, Thiele 10, Mychaskiw 2. e
Should Metro be Abolished? Yes 77, No 25.
Mayor: Hall 129, Rowlands 17, Friedland 4, Meinzer 3.
City Councillor: Leckie 127, Lau 14, Karagianis 2.
Metro Councillor: Chow 124, Valentine 20.
Board of Education: Campey 97, Goossen 79, Brown 68, Thiele 12.
Should Metro be Abolished? Yes 89, No 34.
ALGONQUIN ISLAND ARCHIVES c/o Albert Fulton 5 Ojibway Ave Toronto M5J 2C9 (416) 203-0921 or 537-5006l
THE ISLAND ON TV
On September 8 the CBC local news included a major 10-minute piece about the Land Trust. Jeannie Lee interviewed Chris Wilson and a number of Islanders including Jimmy Jones, Bob Kotyk and Bob Tanner, but the segmentwas essentially constructed as the Wilma & Sarah show. Each of these articulate Islanders argued her side in our local dialectic.
Producer George Prodanou researched the Archives’ old photo collection and later brought a cameraman to provide the still shots of the adjacent church and rectory on the Lake Shore, A W Durnan’s general store at Hanlan’s Point, and the Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park. Also included were CBC archival film footage of demolitions during the late 1950s and rehearsals for resisting the sheriff in 1979.
Wilma Fraser also appeared on the Weather Network channel in support of preserving the Algonquin meadow. Mary Taylor of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists was also interviewed in the meadow.
Tapes of these Island items and many more can be viewed at the Archives during the regular hours of 1-5 on Sunday afternoons.
Toronto Star reporter Andrew Duffy spent four and a half months at Jarvis during the spring of 1994, and he wrote an excellent series of 12 articles which appeared during September. They contain names and pictures of Jarvis staff and students. A complete set is in the Archives.
In the second issue of this glossy new “Urban Lifestyle Magazine”, Paulette Pelletier-Kelly wrote an informative 4-page article about the Island and Islanders.Some are identified by name, some not, but Paulette is her usual cheerful and tactful self. We found a piece in the first issue to be especially useful–free parking spots in a number of downtown locations. Complimentary copies of the magazine can be picked up at 141 King St E, just east of St Lawrence Hall (if you ask politely). Copies of the 3 issues to date are in the Archives, and Paulette’s can be borrowed.
HOBOKEN ON THE HARBOUR
Hollywood North came to the Island on Remembrance Day. The Warner Bros TV-movie Hoboken is being filmed in Toronto, and Seneca was tarted up with a row of Big Apple lamp posts, a phony pile of big rocks, and some small real rocks (from 17 Seneca). In one series of shots the camera looked across “the Hudson River” toward “Manhattan” (at the NE end of the Harbour). The background for the other series was just the water to the west (a couple of swans kept getting in the way!).
The film is about Frank Sinatra, and the executive producer is his daughter Tina. Frank himself appears only briefly, and he was in Toronto between November 14 and 18. From the Toronto Star, November 4: “Olympia Dukakis stars as Rose Garaventi, whose love for Blue Eyes’ music helps get her through the nights and days after the death of her husband, played by Dukakis’s actual spouse Louis Zorich”. The young actor who appeared with Ms Dukakis in the scene filmed onSeneca is the Canadian, Jannick Bisson. He plays the Dukakis character’s grandson. Also in the cast are Joe Penny and Phillip Bosco.
Olympia Dukakis, born in 1931, won the supporting actress Academy Award for Moonstruck in 1987, and she has appeared in such other films as Working Girl, Steel Magnolias, Look Who’s Talking, The Cemetery Club, and on TV in Sinatra: The M i n i
-use their washroom and sofa so that she would not have to trudge back over the bridge to her
motorhome between shoots.
Watch for the movie on CBS, CHCH, and CKCO in mid-January. Incidently, our son Alexander is a location manager with Alliance Entertainment (currently he is working on Due South), and he is constantly looking for new filming locations. If you know of an interested party who has a house with large rooms, or a large or unusual lot, please let us know. The pay is good!
Patrick Loubert’s film company Nelvana is looking for males and females ages 20 to 25 for all roles in its two half-hour weekly mystery TV series, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, to be filmed in the Toronto area. Call 588-5585, ext 500.
Wildlife Auction, Halloween Dance, Montessori Halloween Parade, ALA Art Exhibition, Sandys workshops. Copies of photos taken at these events are available from the Archives.
RALLY TO THE CHURCH
St Andrew’s by-the-Lake is in dire need of both money and bodies (for regular Sunday services). It would be sad to lose community use and control of this marvellous amenity (and the church van!). In the Archives is a thick file on the history of this beautiful building, built in 1884, with photos of the church in its original location by-the-Lake at the corner of Cherokee Ave and the Lake Shore, next door to Archbishop Sweatman’s charming gingerbread cottage with the tower, which he christened Happy-Go-Lucky. This rectory was demolished in 1958.
A list of church activities and fund raising events during December has been delivered to each home. If you would like to help out with a donation of time, prizes, or money, please contact Joyce Rogers at 203-0987 or Deborah Danniels at 203-3773.
To: Hon. Anne Swarbrick, Minister of Culture, Tourism & Recreation, November 21, 1994. From: John McCombe Reynolds, 154 Glenrose Ave., Toronto, M4T 1K8, (416) 487-2948. I have been an Artist and Taxpayer in the Province of Ontario since 1936. Progressively in recent years, the welfare, the concerns, the opportunities and the interests of working artists have been ignored by the Directors of the Art Gallery of Ontario. While a new Director is being sought, I insist, on behalf of many of my colleagues, that our concerns be of primary importance. Above all, we insist that the new Director be a Canadian.
Members of the large Island artistic community may be interested in Mac’s concerns. A well known sculptor, painter, and photographer, he was granted a series of private sittings with the Queen for his 1983 commission for the Charlottetown Confederation Centre, and an exhibition of his recent work will be held at the Roberts Gallery in April. At age 20, one of his paintings was accepted for one of the regular juried shows at the Art Gallery of Toronto (as the AGO was then known), and from that time he considered himself to be “an artist”. Mac regrets that this opportunity is no longer available for aspiring artists, especially after the large increase in gallery space in the recent renovations. Copies of his 3000-word account of the AGO’s treatment of local artists since 1936 are available from the Archives. Also at the Archives are 2 petitions, one to Ms Swarbrick that the new Director be a Canadian, and one to the new Director requesting re instatement of the juried exhibitions. Any interested artists are invited to sign either or both. At the same time, it would be appreciated if you would help update the continuing Archives list of practicing Island artists and the media in which they work. There are currently about 75 names on the list, a sizeable artistic contingent for any community of similar size. Non-Island artists may sign the petitions at Mac’s studio or at Ken Randall’s Metal Dragon shop at 71 McCaul St, across
the street from the Ontario College of Art and around the corner from the AGO. Please spread the word to your artist acquaintances. The Metal Dragon: (416) 348-8815. Mac’s studio-house is down the street from the legendary studio-house (the former church) of his old friends, the sculptors Frances Loring & Florence Wyle. Their memorial parkette is located at the NE corner o f St Clair & M t Pleasant. Mac is not a reclusive artist–he enjoys visits, especially by petition signers, and his studio contains some very interesting pieces. Call first, of course. (416) 487-2948.
An Island connection: Mac’s niece, Kathleen Roulstone, is principal of the Island Montessori School. Another Island connection: the circle on Walmer Rd north of Bloor St has recently been designated as a memorial parkette for the late Island poet Gwendolyn MacEwen. A long-time friend and supporter of Gwen, Mac has been commissioned to execute her bas-relief portrait for the memorial to be installed in the centre of the circle. Copies of the 1971 poster featuring Mac’s definitive photograph of Gwen are available from the Archives. They were printed at the Islanders’ old hangout during The Goose and Duck years, The Coach House Press on the recently re-named bp Nichol Lane, behind the former Rochdale College, now a senior citizens’ residence!
Sic transit gloria mundi.
CIVIC AWARDS OF MERIT
These awards, in 10 categories, are presented in March each year in recognition of volunteers who have “made a significant contribution to improving the quality of life in the City of Toronto”. The awards consist of engraved plaques, and there is a reception and a presentation before City Council. Aside from the recognition, the awards make nice entries in the recipients’ resumes.
The Island has been tradionally blessed with a very high level of volunteer participation, and with the enormous efforts involved in the set-up of the Land Trust and in the ongoing artistic and dramatic enterprises, there are dozens of very deserving candidates. A nomination form has been delivered to each house, and extras are available at the Archives and by the photocopier at the Rectory. If you have been intending to make a nomination and have procrastinated, the deadline is this Saturday, December 3. If you drop off your nominations at the Archives by Friday night, we will deliver them on Saturday.
The Site Planning Committee deposited a copy of their impressive 3-volume report, Island Regeneration. On page 76 of Volume 1, Sarah Miller shares her impressions of the symbolic ceremonies staged by Bruce SmithSc.Company on the evening of July 29. Thank you, Sarah. I have read hundreds of Island pieces in the Archives collection, and yours is one of the best. A copy of the report can be borrowed from the Land Trust office.
Enid Cridland deposited a miscellaneous pile of Island documents, including minutes of block meetings and TIRA financial statements dating back to 1973. Peter Cridland donated a copy of the 180-page keboating, which he recently picked up in England. The fleet is expanding this winter with the addition of a classic wooden design currently under construction in Peter Noy’s front yard. We have an extra set of blades which is available for the next intrepid builder. Julie Gunton donated an 8×10 photo of her childhood home, the Philpot house at 168 Cibola, and loaned her large album of houses and businesses at Centre so that copies could be made. Jean Danniels donated a large group photo at Ward’s during the 1
of WIA membership cards in different categories from 1959 to 1964. Jerry Englar donated a 10″
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copy of his beautiful winning design in the Land Trust logo competition. He and Leida composed
c h i l d r e n , a n d
the circular Island scene, and then Jerr did the illustration and letterin. Sand Krzzanowski
dropped off a batch of Island newspaper clippings. Peter McLaughlin brought over recent photos of the boardwalk. Peter McLeman donated some Island photos during his recent yard sale.Peter, the social columnist for the Ward’s Island Weekly, is spending the winter at 28 Omaha. Let’s try to persuade him to provide one o f his scintillating commentaries for the March 1 issue of this newsletter. Tommie Murdoch donated a great pile of Centre Islanders, Fenyboat Follies programs, and Island clippings, mostly from the mid-fifties. Vivian Pitcher parted with a 4-foot pew, originally from St Andrew’s. St Andrew’s and St Rita’s Catholic Church were both relocated in 1959,with St Rita’s being deposited to the south of StAndrew’s, near the Lake Shore. St Rita’s was better pewed, and when it was demolished in 1984, its pews migrated to St Andrew’s. The St Andrew’s pews were rescued by a number of parishioners; two large ones can be seen at the side of 21Seneca. The Pitcher pew now rests just outside the door of the Archives, providing comfort for those at the head of the line waiting their turn to get into the Archives for a regular Sunday afternoon open house. Joyce Rogers donated a series of 8 photos depicting the removal of the infamous Parliament truck via the seawall in front of the ALA Building. The huge barge, the tug Miss Christie, and the 2 small boats used in the operation were all part of the Rogers family fleet. Lu Schoenborn dropped off 14 beautiful 8×10 Island photos taken by her late husband Al in the ’50sand ’60s. Bruce Sampson & Matt McDonald donated an 8-page Baseball Score Book of 1911 which they discovered inside a wall at 8 Omaha during recent renovations. This house was among the 31 floated over from the Western Sandbar in 1938. A photo of the house being winched onto the barge by Frank Ward Sr and 2 helpers is in the Archives. Bus Ward, who ran a coffee shop on the main drag at Centre and also delivered beer, owned the house at the time. The Toronto Maple Leaf baseball team played at HanIan’s Point Stadium, and their Score Book is plastered with as many ads as Doug Gilmour’s Swiss uniform. They promote such products as British Navy chewing tobacco, Little Digesters for relief of dyspepsia,Dorenwend’s toupees, Hughel’s Dander off for exemic scalp, Verral’s cabs, coupes and victorias, and many more. Adam Zhelka donated an RCYC stamp rack, in use prior to 1929.Please let me know if I’ve omitted your donation.
Eight natural dye workshops held at 12 Omaha on the weekends of November 19 and 26 attracted a large number of children, teens, and adults. From Sandy’s publicist: The very discriminating tie-dyers worked remarkably hard. They each produced a highly developed and sophisticated silk scarf. They combined many tie-dye techniques—snakeskin, marbling, twisting, spiral, sunburst, wiggly lines, folding, and circles. Natural dyes used were onion, grape, sumac, paudauk, and iron. Students exchanged ideas and advice, and they left satisfied and exhilarated. The workmanship and results were astonishing.
Call Sandy if you are interested in attending another workshop before or after Christmas. For Christmas gifts, Sandy has an inventory of her own naturally dyed silk scarves. SandyKrzyzanowski: (416) 203-1036.
INSTITUTE OF CHILD STUDY VISIT
On November 24 Peter Freeman brought a Grade 5/6 class from this school to the Island. The students tramped about the Ward’s Meadow in the morning, had lunch by a fire at the fire-pit, and warmed up at the Archives in the afternoon. Three small groups rotated among the Boat Room, where Emily Fulton presented photos of tugboats,houseboats, iceboats,and otherboats, the Outer Harbour Room, where Vivian Pitcher showed pictures of the Spit and our famous boardwalk water and ice spectacles, and the Map Room, where I attempted to trace the development of the Island using wall maps of 1818, 1918, and 1990. The 1918 map, showing the orientation of the HanIan’s Stadium to the sun, makes it easy to explain the origin of the term ‘southpaw’. Do YOU know what it is?? Emily reports that the kids were most interested in the pictures of Captain
John’s Restaurant after it had been sunk by the Trillium.
The Institute of Child Study, at 45 Walmer Road, has about 185 students in Nursery to Grade 6.Since 1926, it has been the laboratory school for the UotT Faculty of Education, providing training and research facilities for the Faculty. The carefully selected students are given an enriched education, with many field trips. Peter is happily serving his internship at the Institute in the second and final year of his postgraduate Child Study program.
Fifty swans, recent denizens of the shores of Algonquin, seem to have been paying tribute to Karen Kain’s swan-song of last Friday evening at the O’Keefe Centre. At age 43, she danced her lastSwan Lake, and the long-sold-out audience (with assistance from the rose and carnation dealers) gave her an adoring send-off. Copies of the special 8-page Toronto Star tribute of November 17 were given out after the performance, and a few copies are available at the Archives. In time for Christmas, her 280-page autobiography, co-written with Stephen Godfrey and Penelope Doob, has been released. Replete with many dancing photos, an autographed copy of the $40 book can be examined at the Archives.
Appropriately, the 110′ mural in the O’Keefe lobby, titled The Seven Lively Arts, features white clad ballet dancers in one of its sections. Jack Labonte-Smith was one of the 2 artists hired by York Wilson to help him paint the mural in 1959. The musical passage across the centre was taken from an actual German opera, and its top-secret choice was scandalous at the time. For details, ask Jack!
One of a Kind Show
At the Automotive Building until this Sunday, December 4. $2 discount coupons are available at the Archives. Julie Ganton has her usual corner spot well stocked with Sundown outfits and accessories, and Matthias Ostermann (formerly o f 14 Fifth) is back from Montreal with his colourful bowls, vases, and tiles. 550 artisans are participating in this year’s Christmas Boutique on a larger scale.
Market Gallery Exhibition
Upstairs in St Lawrence Market until February 5, 1995. Titled Art in Toronto A Centtity Ago, the 49 paintings assembled from local government collections include 13 scenes of the Harbour and its shores. Among the 13 are works by such notable Canadian artists as William Armstrong, Frederick Bell-Smith, Frederick Challener, George Reid, and Owen Staples. The highlight of the exhibition is the magnificent 10′ panorama of the city skyline of 1842 stretching from the Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse (by the Western Gap) to the Gooderham & Worts windmill (at the foot of Parliament St). The original drawing by James Cane was enlarged into this oil painting by Frederick Challener. The Cane drawing, with a 50-item legend, was published in Volume 5 of John Ross Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, and the Challener painting was donated to the City by Mr Robertson in 1906. A complete set of the 6 volume Landmarks series is in the Archives.
Leora, a Ryerson journalism student, chose the Island as the subject of one of her assignments last fall. She visited the Archives for research and was directed to a number of friendly oldtimers to hear their reminiscences. Leora has kindly given me permission to print her article, for which shereceived an excellent mark! It appears on the back page. For economy, I have combined many of her short newspaper paragraphs into longer ones and have omitted a historical section.
OVERLY CHARMED, Exhibition by Michael Davey.
Costin & Klintworth Gallery, 80 Spadina, September 17 – October 15. Some of Michael’s charms came from the Hustlers’ yard sale at 8 Ojibway. Photos of Michael’s work in this and previous exhibitions are in the Archives. Michael and his artist father Dudley recently collaborated on a series of 6 paintings, 2 of which hung in the recent M A art show.Photos of these and many of the other works in the show are in the Archives.
As a child, I was very interested in the charms that women wore on their wrists — buildings, boats and plants from all parts of Canada.
remember liking the fact that a monument, a city, even a province could fit in your pocket.
Drawing on the extensive inventory of designs produced by Canada’s charm industry, artist Michael Davey has fabricated an impressive series of miniature sculptures cast in bronze and then encased in lucite. These works engage places. Niagara Falls, Regina, Dawson City, St. John’s and spaces: Signal Hill, Woodbine Racetrack, the Manitoba Legislature in a dialogue on the significance of circumstance.
People figure largely in these constructions. Miners and lawyers, hockey players, mothers and musicians are hermetically sealed together with elements of the built environment. Th e involvement is complete and reciprocal Th e Chateau Frontenac sprouts limbs and walks; a man/woman becomes the Trent River Lift Lock. Here, animals effortlessly hoist up buildings to inspect them. Salmon are ridden by cowboys who, as it happens, are half man/half tree — a life dependency in frontiersmanship. Overly charmed in scale and content, these sculptures run the Canadian cultural gamut. They reveal what is extraordinary in the banal and what is prosaic in the remarkable.
Diana Rowland’s Algonquin Island –
garden won third prize in the over 3
ikl e, L)
scavenger or recycler — the gypsy, the rag-and-bone man — is reviled in our society. ‘But they play an im
2,000-square-foot category. She 0
describes her garden as one that
Two companies known for eye catching spectacles and striking de sign team up for the environmental
portant role in terms of recycling waste.
of man and beast.’• w
ly themed Dirty Rats.
“The piece is unusual in that it uses masks and puppetry as a medi um for adults as well is children.
Her home garden includes a e
The all-ages show is a collabora tionbetween Shadowland Theatre
bridge, hidden pathways, stepping
It’s. based in :visuals, employing a
stones, bushes, f ruit trees and c
— best known for its Caribana
floats and bold costume and prop
minimum of Words to tell the story.
The plant life and flowers were m
design for VideoCabaret produc tions – and Whole Loaf Theatre,
The environmental angle is implicit within an entertaining, lively show
planted not just to delight the :hu- man senses, but for the birds, but
terflies a n d i n e c t s t h a t a r e s
attracted: she said.
which stages outdoor productions of mythic and traditional stories us
ing gigantic puppets.
that takes a caustic look at over consumption and the waste we pro- duce.” The show tours schools and com
The winners and runners-up for n
Dirty Rats combines masks, pup /
munity centres, with public perfor
this year’s garden contest received gift certificates from Weall and Cul len Nurseries
pi L T
petry and visual pizazz in a tale of consumer greed, depicting a world
in which rats emergeas the only tru- ly responsible citizens. i
“The showcentres ona lovable rat
mances at the Algonquin Island Association Clubhouse Saturday (November 12) at 8 pm, Dixon Hall (58 Sumach) November 16 at 4 pm and the Bob Abate Community Centre (484 Montrose) November
family living in a garbage dump,”
says• Shadowland’s Anne Barber.
21 at 7 pm. For more information, call 203-0937.
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CubanDance,Oct15.Uaskedmetodance. Me:Latinman.U:attractiveblondefromthe „ 0 . .
Island.Pleasecall. 1:r 4’66257
THE TORONTO ISLANDS: A TRUE COMMUNITY
by Leora ‘ryber
It was a warm, moonlit night in the summer of 1951 when Luise Schoenborn saw her house on the Toronto Islands for the first time. She had sailed from Germany, with her three young children in tow, and taken a train to Toronto, where her husband was waiting. Together, they boarded a water taxi, which took them across the bay to the Islands, where she felt at home immediately. “It was an island full of life then”, she says. Her husband, a photographer and film maker, had come over earlier but almost returned home because he couldn’t find a place for his young family to live. However, he met another German immigrant, who told him his own family was coming over that evening. Astonished, Mr. Schoenborn asked where they were going to live. That’s how he learned about the Toronto Islands. Within an hour he, too, found a place on Centre Island. Even in post World War II Toronto, Mrs. Schoenborn says she and her family found acceptance among the quirky Islanders. She looks back to the post-war period at Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point with nostalgia. “It’s a crime that it has all been torn down,” she says.
The Toronto Island community has always been different. It’s made up of people from all walks of life, professionals to the unemployed, single parent families to retired couples, widows to newlyweds. The people who live there are drawn together by shared experiences, pride in their way of life and a sense that they are a unique community. Once the leaves have turned, only the hearty and the Islanders take the ferry across the bay. As you pull away from the city, there is afeeling of going back to a different era. The glass and cement buildings of Toronto’s skyline, echoing the dense Island trees, look like a forest of another kind, from another time.
Eighty-nine year old Alice Aitken knows that this winter is going to be a lonely one. Many of her friends have either died or had to move off the Island. Though she’s a widow, she sees no reason why she should give up her independent lifestyle. The Island has become a deeply ingrained way of life for her. She remembers skating over in the winter as a little girl, when the bay was frozen. Later, she met her husband there. She has lots of help from fellow Islanders. Jack, the milkman, delivers all the basic groceries she needs, including milk, eggs, chicken pies and even beer, twice a week. If she’s not home when Jack comes around, he’ll put the food right in the refrigerator.
The Islanders are a funny bunch. They make advantages from adversity, and deny the existence of adversity all along. For example, no cars are allowed on the Island. This creates a great environment for children, and a quiet that you simply cannot find in the city. The Islanders maintain that it gives the place a special feeling. However, it creates a lot of problems, too. Most Islanders have permits for their cars which they park on Cooper Street. The permits cost $30 every 6 months. In order to bring their cars onto the Island, they need to buy another permit, which costs $25. Even then, they can’t have their cars there for more than one day. This is one of the reasons that getting a plumber or contractor to come over is such a problem. It’s also the reason that Islanders are so resourceful. If you don’t know how to do simple home repairs, you can always call on a fellow Islander who does.
Shopping is another problem. There are no stores on the Island, so residents have to ferry over to the city. Shopping day, by tradition, is Saturday. Many of the Islanders get up early, to take the 6:45 boat to the St. Lawrence Market. Dudley Davey, a retired designer and illustrator who moved to the Island in 1955, remembers when the Saturday morning shopping trip used to turn into a weekly brunch for many of the Islanders. Everyone would go over to the Old Fish Market for a late breakfast. “It was great in the summer,” he says,”when lots of otherIslanders would be there, too, but it was hell in winter.” Now, many residents arrange to have their groceries delivered by Loblaws. They do their shopping on Thursday, and the food gets delivered on Friday. Unless of course, someone prefers to bring their food back on their own.
Albert Fulton, a retired teacher who moved there in 1980, has appointed himself Algonquin Island Archivist. He tells the story of one intrepid Islander who decided to swim across the eastern gap, do his shopping, and swim back with his groceries in a backpack. He was stopped by the police on the way home and told he would be arrested if he ever tried to swim the gap again, but this swimmer typifies the kind of characteristics Islanders value: perseverance, a strong connection with nature, a quirky disregard for the way things are supposed to be done, defiance of authority and a sense of humour.
Islanders are bound together by much more than their fight with Metro. Just about every resident has at least one book in the house about the Island or the ferries. One resident even has a private museum set up in his house, documenting 5 generations of his family on the Island. There is a special phone book just for Islanders. Common life experiences have tended to create a sense of community that will continue. As well, there is a kind of “natural selection” process that goes on when people decide to live on the Island. Adam Zhelka, 28 years old and a second generation Islander, says that people who like to have wild parties, or who do shift work, probably wouldn’t be interested in living on the Island. And that suits him just fine. Even though he is young, and misses life in the city nowand then, he would never consider moving there. And, in that point of view, he has more in common with his fellow Islanders than any city slicker.