News from the Archives v04-1
- Created by: Albert Fulton
- Date: 1995-03-01
- Provenance: Collected by members of the Toronto Island Connections group, scanned by Edward English, OCR by Eric Zhelka, PDF by Eric Light
- Notes: v04-1
PLUS Ca CHANGE.
MARCH 1, 1995
From William French, The Globe & Mail, July 7, 1983:
One of the verities of life in Toronto is that come boom or bust, priest or pagan, there will always be a controversy in progress about that part of the city known as the Islands. It gives us a reassuring sense of stability to know that at least something in this febrile city can be counted on to remain the same.
ANTIQUE SHOW AND SALE
96 Wychwood Park, Saturday & Sunday, April 22 & 23, 1-5 pm:
The Fulton Collection o f early century household implements is about to be broken up. Several hundred items will be on display during the weekend o f April 22, and the antique dealers and general public will be invited during the following week and weekend. Hence the Archives will be closed on April 23 & 30 and will reopen during the regular hours of 1-5 on Sunday, May 7.
The collection comprises 15 washing machines, mostly with wooden tubs, including 3 electric models; hand and foot operated butter churns and grinders; kitchen gadgets; tools once belonging to John Diefenbaker, certified as authentic by his step-daughter Carolyn Weir; and a multitude of other widgets and gismos. Also being demonstrated but not for sale will be about 3dozen apple peelers and cherry pitters, 2 Edison phonographs with about 200 cylinders, and a player piano with about 100 rolls. If you are interested in old mechanical contraptions, we’d like you to attend the last viewing of the intact collection (except for the pump organ, juke box and pinball machine, which have already been sold). If you wish, you may buy something, but that is not why you are being invited — there is absolutely no obligation to make a purchase.
If you come by car, find the corner of Wychwood Ave and Alcina Ave (southwest of Bathurst and St Clair). Enter the gates to Wychwood Park, turn left at each intersection, and #96 is down the hill on the left. If you come by ITC , walk south on Wychwood Ave from the St Clair streetcar, or walk west on Davenport from the Bathurst bus to the Wychwood Park south gates, or take the Davenport bus (#127) from the Spadina subway station and get off at the Wychwood Park south gates. Enter the gates (closed to cars) and climb the hill to the right. No children under 12 please — the wringers and exposed gear systems are a big menace to little fingers.
In anticipation of upcoming changes in Island architecture, at least 2 photos of each of the 250 houses have recently been taken. They have been incorporated into the existing albums and it is interesting to compare the present houses (and occupants!) with earlier versions. Many photos date back more than 50 years. These old images are the most frequently requested items by visitors to the Archives, especially the TIRA Photo Squad pictures of families and pets standing in front of their houses nn January 27,1974.So, as a favour to future Islanders, please consider capturing your house and/or yourself on film, particularly if you are about to make changes. If
ALGONQUI N ISLAND ARCHIVES d o Albert Fulton 5 Ojibway Ave Toronto M5J 2C9 (416) 203-0921 or 537-5006
there is no film in your camera, call the Archives — 2 loaded cameras are always at the ready. Something you may regret later is the failure to take interior “before” shots. Memories fade,and grandchildren and newcomers may never have seen the original. Emily and I both plead guilty to boring visitors, while entertaining ourselves, with photos taken before and during the renovations at 5 Ojibway.
Island gardeners have again been invited to participate in the Toronto Gardens Tour and Contest. Last summer our visitors on the 4 Sundays in August to the 22 participating gardens came from far and wide. We have kept the signs and maps and since the Archives are open everySunday afternoon anyway, we would be willing again to act as starting point for the tours. However, lining up the promised 10 gardens for each Sunday, in addition to our usual Archives duties, turned out to be somewhat onerous.So, if another gardener, or two or three, would take over this task, please let us know soon so that the advertising can appear in Toronto Gardens magazine. The tours can be arranged for any number of Sunday afternoons from June to September, and 10 gardens seemed like a reasonable number to have open each day. Last summer prizes totalling $1500 in gift certificates were donated by White Rose Nurseries. Back copies of Toronto Gardens are available at the Archives, free of charge.
Hilary Kilborn: On January 7 Hilary’s half hour production Toronto Island: Reflections was shown on Cable 10. Narrated by Hilary, her father Bill, and Grant Dewar, the film portrays life on the Island, past and present, and includes home-movie footage of the Kilbourn family at their summer home at Centre Island. Descriptions of Island folklore are provided by Liz Amer, Leida Englar, Mary Hay, Bill Kilbourn, Barbara Klunder, David Mulholland, Alice Norton, Lynn Purves, Kathleen Roulstone, Rick/Simon, Duncan Smith, and Ernie Trepanier. Included are stills taken by Hilary at the Archives, a leisurely walk through one of Jerry Englar’s panoramic paintings, and lots of kids and pets. Fittingly, the last words were reserved for Hilary’s father Bill.
The Guerilla Gardener: Grahame Beakhust’s garden videos filmed last fall in Southern Ontario and New Zealand have been appearing on The Discovery Channel weekdays at 1 pm since the beginning of January. Most of them have been taped and Vivian Pitcher has been faithfully previewing and annotating the tapes. The Island episodes (with Vivian and lain Robertson to date) and a few other gems will be transferred to one tape for easy viewing. Grahame was originally dubbed The Guerilla Gardener by Jim Belisle in reference to Grahame’s habit of attacking vacant spaces with plants. This month Grahame is visiting more gardens, in sunny California.
Igloolik: On January 7 Laura Beard alerted the Archives that a film about the Island School wasbeing shown on Channel 11, and most of it got taped. In June 1971, 20 IPS students spent 12days visiting Eskimo students in the village of Igloolilc, north of Hudson Bay. Among those appearing in the video are Robin & Doug Barker, Jim & Jeremy Fowlie, Alice Millen, Maggie Pitcher, Trevor Pohl, Evan Roerick, and Dormy Sampson. The Eskimo kids paid a return visit to the Island in June 1972.
Sandy Krzyzanowski: Sandy demonstrated her natural dye techniques on Cable 10 on December 13.
Don Obe: A half hour debate between Don and journalist & editor John Fraser was part of the TVO Imprint program on January 19. The topic was the value of journalism schools. These programs have been added to the burgeoning Archives video collection. Viewers can
be accommodated in the darkened video room on Sunday afternoons. Please lend your tapes so that copies can be made, and please continue to alert the Archives about upcoming Island items.
Deenie Anderson donated a large detailed wall map of the Island, updated to June 21,1950. It shows all the houses with their addresses, water mains, hydrants, even every hydro pole. About three-quarters of the Algonquin houses are present. Deenie also deposited clippings from the ’40s and ’50s and some Centre Islander newspapers. Fred Gaysek donated a 100-page catalogue of an art exhibition titled 9 FROM TORONTO which was mounted in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, in August 1990. Included in the 9 were Fred and Michael Davey. (Mike has a current exhibition at Innis College, 111 St George St, until March 11). Barbara Klunder dropped off a batch o f colourful newspaper pictures and clippings. Gai l Labonte-Smith donated a n enlargement of an Island sunrise photo which she took after the first snowfall of the winter of 1994-95. Freda Lord donated a copy in excellent condition of a beautiful book about the Island titled A Tearful Tour of Toronto’s Riviera by John Richmond, 1961. It is illustrated by paintings and sketches by Lorraine Surcouf, who lived at 2 Oriole. One of our present Island artists, Erik Gamble (14 Nottawa), lived at 2 Oriole at the same time. A review of Freda’s book by Robert Fulford appears later in this newsletter. Graham Mudge dropped off a big bag of Toronto Stars from November 1952 which were recently retrieved from under the linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom at 31 Seneca. Judge James Netterfield, the original owner, sold his summer cottage to the war-widow Mary Howell in 1952, and it appears that one of Mary’s first winterizing jobs was to lay linoleum. Mary and her new husband Warren Smith gradually finished the house and lived there until 1967. If anyone wants to read about Toronto life in November of 1952,you may peruse the Mudge deposit. Lu Schoenborn provided records of M A activities in the 1
5’600ss, asawenll asd clippings and old newsletters. Paul Webster (via Joan McDonald) donated a batch of excellent 8×10 bikw glossies taken during the fluff season some time in the 1 7sh0ows .inteTrehstineg wooden boats y in the lagoon, and Chester Jones (18 Dacotah) patrols the Algonquin end of the bridge. Chester was the only dog that I know of to be regularly listed in the Island phone directory. Adam Zhelka, bienfaiteur extraordinaire, donated another batch of Island photos, posters, and ephemera. Two anonymous donations: floor plans of the new fire hall, and a bag of blank membership cards for the TIRA YACHT CLUB, proposed after the yacht clubs received their new leases in 1973. If you would like to apply for reciprocal privileges with the Omaha Boating Association, you may use one of these cards.
The Archives have recently come into possession of several hundred negatives taken in 1958 of the former buildings and their environs at Centre and HanIan’s. The Archives’ limited budget can only cover the paper and fluids. So, if someone has access to developing equipment and is willing to volunteer their time, maybe we can make some beautiful pictures together. Payment in kind is of course available — prints from these or from the thousands of other negatives in the Archives collection.
SOME RAMBLINGS ON PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS
With the recent rash of assessment appeals across the water, I’m somewhat surprised that this epidemic has not spread to the Island. Metro assessments are out of date and out of proportion, and a general reassessment is long overdue. This has been argued about for years and will
possibly happen, but in the meantime folks who feel that their properties are over assessed have been appealing in droves, usually with success.
The inequitable assessments across Metro are mirrored on the Island, with some households paying more than twice the taxes of others, while receiving the same municipal services and in several cases having houses of comparable size.
On Algonquin the lots are all 505(100′, although some by the lagoon have the use of an extra front piece of the city road allowance because of the bend in Omaha. Corner lots also get an extra piece of the 66′ road allowance. If you are unsure of your boundaries, you can examine the surveys at the Rectory or at the Archives. In the beginning all the lots were assessed at $500, but in the general reassessment of 1959, the lots on Omaha and Seneca were pegged at $1000 and the others at $900, and most of the house assessments were also raised. After numerous appeals, the lots were again assessed equally, at the present $750. This equality was extended to the $46,000 lease prices, the same for all. The house assessments, however, present anomalies. Two houses on Algonquin are assessed at $3200 while 12 are assessed at less than half that amount, and a number in the bottom 12 are bigger houses than some in the top 12!
On Ward’s there are further inequities. Some of the lots are more than twice as big as others, and the property with the highest assessment is one of the smallest lots! Again, the top house assessments are more than twice the lowest, and some of the largest houses are among the least assessed. Lists of the assessments and lot sizes can be viewed at the Archives.
How can these irregularities be remedied? Probably too contentious a project for the Land Trust! Pending a general reassessment, all the tax appeals are having an effect. The top end is being lowered, but the bottom is staying put. Since our politicians are presently loath to raise the mill rate, tax revenues are declining. Whether or not this is desirable is a matter of opinion. The school boards are certainly singing the blues.
On a philosophical note, how should assessments be determined? Market value assessment is complicated, constantly changing, and overly sensitive to location. In my humble opinion, it was quite rightly shot down. Although the following smacks o f the notorious poll tax, my inclination, for what it’s worth, is that houses should be taxed in proportion to their number of occupants — the more residents, the more garbage, water & sewage, ferry & TIC use, school spaces, etc. How can this be accomplished simply? Use the size of the house only (and maybe the size of the lot as a minor component). The bigger the house, the more likely there are to be more residents, including tenants. The assessment should be raised only i f the house is enlarged. Cosmetic improvements should not trigger higher assessments, as this acts as a deterrent to improving the appearance of the neighbourhood. The present range between high and low should be reduced, for communities in which the properties receive the same services.
A related matter pertains to the dreaded levies. If they become necessary, should they be the same for all houses? It can be argued that charging the same lease price for all the Ward’s lots was unfair. Should this inequity continue with the levies? Should a single pensioner in a small house pay the same amount as 2 or 3 employed adults living in a big house? Condominium fees usually vary with the floor area of the units. Once the Island appraisals are complete, all the floor areas will be known and could be used in this fashion. However, a simpler method is to use the assessments, and treat the levy as an addition to the mill rate. Some of the recalcitrant levy payers of the past may be lotter motivated to pay up if the levies are treated like taxes — taxes are compulsory. Also, as at present, if a family feels that they are overtaxed and over levied, the appeal process is already in place. We can blame City Hall, instead of the Land Trust!
TORONTO DAILY STAR: Tuesday, March 7, 1961
ROBERT FULFORD ON
The Old Days on the Island
THE IDEA of a memorial to Toronto’s seedy old Centre Island seems, on the face of it, more than faintly ridiculous. Bu t the result of such an absurd notion is a book which can only be called a small masterpiece of nostalgia—A Tearful Tour of Toronto’s Riviera of Yesteryear (Mac millan, $7.50), a collection of photographs, paintings and drawings. It is my first 1961 nomination f o r a Governor – General’s Award, though what category it fits wi l l be hard to determine.
John Richmond, a Toronto designer and art director, has gathered 31 photo graphs by William James, one of the most distinguished photographers o f t he Toronto past (and the father of The Stars Norman James). T o these he’s added some delicious tempera paintings by Lorraine Surcouf, along with some less-effec tive drawings, also by Miss Surcout He’s flung .them together wit h a warm but
brief text and the result is a handsome memento of the city that Toronto once was.
The text is written in loving nostalgia and tender playfulness, occasionally in terrupted by a Joycean phrase: “Oh, for a brassbandful, slide-shooting, shimmery, afternoonery day!” The pictures, mostly of summer amusements on the Island and the waterfront, are crammed with revelations about pre-World Wa r I Toronto. These gallivanting young women in their enormous hats and surrealistic bathing suites, and these gay young men in their boaters—can these be our grandparents? These meaty, black-stockinged women (in dulging, hilariously, in a tug-of-war)–can these be the residents of the city we were all told was so sedate? Al l of them, in any case, are pictured beautifully in James’ photos.
And the architecture! Surely this boo explains, finally, why old Toronto buildings lack character. Al l the city’s gaiety, all the architectural fantasy, was invested In t he wooden buildings on the Island which have since, sadly, burned t o the ground o r fallen beneath the weight of time. This book explains that our grand parents were not so dull as we thought: here is the hotel with the Moorish towers, here is the house in carpenter’s Gothic.
The book is filled, as the first page says, with “the love most sharply felt at the moment when its object is lost for ever.” Before he wrote the text, John Richmond interviewed as t inny old-time Islanders as he could find. One of them supplied the perfect caption to the photo graphs of that rich Edwardian life which a f ew Torontonians were privileged t o live: “There were beautiful homes wit h
beautiful p e o p l e sitting i n beautiful .gardens.”
MACKENZIE KING, 125 Bathurst St, 864-9971, until March,, Hig h ly Recommended. From the Star, Jan 28: (A photo of Astrid, Brad, Leida and Pat the dog accompanied the article)
Meanwhile, a month-long resurrection of The Life And ‘limes Of Mackenzie King begins previews Friday and opensFeb. 8 at Factory The- atre, 125 Bathurst St. Possi bly the best of the bunch, Mackenzie King is the first of the eight episodes everto be revived.
As much a s Holling sworth’s trenchant, ironic and assiduously researched writing and the well-drilled performances o f the cast, the success of the series is owed to the inventive, indus trious and stylish efforts of its designers.
Chief among these are set and lighting designer Jim Plaxton, originator o f the patented “blac k box ” that
frames the fast-paced action of the dramas, costume de signer Astrid Janson, whose keen imagination has been brought to bear on the last three episodes, and the ver- satile Toronto Island outfit Shadowland, notably including Leida Englar and Brad Harley, which builds the outrageously exaggerated props for the productions. A current concern for the quartet is how to maintain the material’s larger-than- life scale in the comparative ly spacious Factory Theatre, with its 230 seatsand upper balcony.
“It’s kind of like going from a ‘IV screen to a movie theatre,” says Englar.
“In some ways, the off- stage activity is just as interesting as what goes on on- stage,” s a y s Ja n so n , designer of the show’s 100 gaudy, tear-away costumes.
“People make incredibly fast costume changes. Everything is Velcro-ized. We need a nice loud soundtrack (by the late Brent Snyder)to cover the noise.”
JEMSOn’Soutfits are loud in other ways as well. “1 don’t have much of an opportunity to do this kind of costuming. Last year, was doing WWII at the same time as Long Day’s Journey Into Night (at Strat ford). They’re polar oppo- sites. One was so subtle and the other was so unsubtle.”
Janson’s eye-stabbing neckties, je we lry a n d ,checked jackets are well- suited to the efforts of Shadowland, creators of a slew of goofy accoutrements, running ‘from out-sized ci gars and jugs o f bootleg
whisky to jaunty jalopies. “Over the years, we’ve developed a style that Michael is comfortable with,” says •Harley, wh o h a s been aboard since Day One. “When a new show is happening, (Hollingsworth) gives us a list of props and then we give the props back to him. He’s very comfort able with o u r approach, which is: the bigger, the bolder, the brighter, the bet ter. If you push it in a big, silly and colorful direction, then it’s probably going to be the right idea”
KILBOURN, William Morley, M.A. (Oxon), Ph.D. (Harvard), F.R.S.C.,O.C.—Suddenly at Toronto on Wednesday, January 4,1995. William Morley Kilboum, Fellowof theRoyalSociety of Canada, Orderof Canada,sonof Mary Fawcett Kilboum andthelateKennethKi!bourn.Adoredandbeloved husband of the ReverendElizabeth Kilbourn. LOAMbrother of Rosemary Kilbourn, R.C.A., wonderfuland dearly loved father of Philippa MeteIli, Hilary, Nicholas, Timothy and Michael Kilboum, and dearest grandfather of Sebastian°, Kenneth and Orion°.Author of The Firebrand, The Elements Combined, Pipeline, The Making of a Nation, CD. Howe, Toronto Remembered, Toronto Observed, An Intimate Grandeur, a portrait of Massey Hall. Professor and founder of the Department of Humanities, York University. Formerly Alderman of the City of Toronto and Metro Councillor. Bill, in his generosity and enthusiasm, has been a person who loved and was loved by many people: friends, students, coleagues.Hehadapassionateloveandconcern for his country and his city of Toronto. He expressedhis Christiancommitment in loveand service to others. Friends may call at the Rosar-MorrisonFuneralHome,467SherboumeSt. (nearWellesley) on Friday, January 6, after12 noon.FuneraltoSt.JamesCathedralonSaturday, January 7, 1995, at 10 a.m. Interment Mount Pleasant Cemetery. (Parking adjacent to the funeralhome).
GARFINKEL, Ethel—OnTuesday,January3,1995 atNorthwesternHospital.Ethel,belovedwifeof the late Robert Garfinkel.LovingmotherofJudy andJerry Ginsberg, and Elie andShirley Garfinkel.Cherishedgrandmother of Morgan, Dana,JonahandDaniel. Dear sister of Lillian Sumterg.PredeceasedbyherbrotherAbeRubin andsisters Are Sumberg, RoseGollomand BerthaLoft. Aprivatefamilyservicetobeheld Donations to the Baycrest Centrewould be appreciated.
BRYMERi Arthur Walter—January9, 1995. Beloved hUsbandof Marjorie Ann. Dearfather ofOr. Bill Bryrner,Dr.PeterBrymerandBruce armletGrandfatherofStephanie,Margaret Molly,jenny, Matthew. and Lee: Founder of
Bogner 4-. Sons•Limited. Funeral a t St •Leonard’s Church, 2 5 -Wanless Avenue. Donations i f desired • ‘to the Anglican Downtown Church Workers Association, 110ChurchStreet2ndFloor,M5C2M4.
PERDUE, Beatrice Elizabeth (nee Buller- Colthurst) — After a lengthy illness, on Sunday, February 5, 1995, at St Michael’s Hospital. Beatrice Perdue, wife of the late John V. Perdue. She will be missed by her children Toni , Christopher, – Patti a nd
Marshall. GrandchildrenScott, David, Tanya, Tara a nd Kenneth. Great-grandchildren Christine, Stephanie andCasmira. She will be alsomissedby all her family andfriends who knew and loved her as “Morn”. Private arrangements. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Alzheimer’s Association of Canada wouldbe appreciatedby the family.
Bill Kilbourn spent his early summers on St Andrew’s Ave (the first street east of the Filtration Plant) and he bought 3 Wyandot in 1986. A dozen published tributes are in the Archives, including those by Robert Fulford (10 Lake Shore) and John Sewell (94 Lake Shore). In her remembrance in The Island News of February 1, Liz Amer quoted from his Toronto Remembered,1984. Here is another quotation, from Toronto in Pictures and Words, 1977:
The Islanders are of all ages and conditions, all vocations and income levels, but their style is reminiscent of an earlier time and place. A few are of a more recent by-gone era: former flower children who are into organic vegetables and backpack about with children of their own, with names like Willow and Cricket, Bree and Sky. The older children, who hike two miles to school, are a hardy breed; they always have the smallest, youngest, and most short-handed hockey team in the city’s public school tournament, but this does not stop them from beating all comers and winning the championship. For the mainland children, at the residential science school next door, seeing and sharing in the way of life of the Island kids is perhaps the ultimate benefit.
Newspaper photos and clippings about these championship teams are in the Archives. Ethel Garfinkel (n& Rubin) spent her childhood summers at “the last cottage on the Sandbar”,115 West Island Drive, which was moved to 14 Omaha in 1938. It was the Rubin family cottage from 1915 to 1952. The cottages, with odd numbers from #1 (the present 11 Seneca) to #115, were lined up on the sandbar on 5 0
between the sandbar and Hanlan’s Point was filled in for the airport in 1937-38. As a lad Bill Duman
pulled the ice wagon along the plank path, and a 25 lb block of ice leaving his father’s store at Hanlan’s
x 1 1 0
had often shrunk to 20 lbs by the time he reached the Rubins’. Ethel and her late husband Bob loaned
1 l o t s
a number of photos of the family and the cottage on the sandbar to the Archives Photo Exhibition in
l o o k i n
April 1993 (copies were made), and they gave an excellent photo of 14 Omaha to the present owners. g
Taken from the bridge about 1944, it shows 15 & 17 Seneca in the background with no houses in w e s
between. After the Rubins, Edgar & Lillian Barker owned 14 Omaha until 1968, followed by Jeremy t
& Camilla Ruskin until 1981. Frank & Barb and the kiddies have been guarding the bridge since then. o v
A W Brymer: His sons Peter and Bruce lived at 14 Oneida in the early 1970s. Peter is presently Commodore of the RCYC.
Betty Perdue and family lived at 8 Chippewa Crescent (near the RCYC bridge) until 1950, at 27 e
Seneca until 1974,and then at 8 Nottawa. Betty’s husband John was co-producer, with Scott Burrill (100 p r e
Lake Shore) of the famous Ferry Boat Follies at the Centre Island Association clubhouse, and he was s e n
later Entertainment Chairman at the QCYC. In 1985 Betty collected a batch of Church photos and organized them into 2 albums. These interesting books, on display at the Archives Photo Exhibition,
can be examined at the Church. Names are still needed for a number of old timers in the photos. b e
Aday of perfectice – ?I ,’ L ‘ A / c r
off Toronto, Canada. But today, with changes to the water c
flow, a good ice cover is rare. The exception was this rare day
in February of 1993, (shown here). A Sail Rite iceboat, sailed
by Albert Fulton, slid down the skyline, alone on a day of per
fect ice. One hundred years ago, Toronto’s inner harbor was
crowded with iceboats. Some were pleasure boats, others be
longed to the police who used the boats to patrol the harbor,
and some entrepreneurs converted their iceboats into taxis and
transported people from the mainland to the Toronto Islands.
Today, the trip between the island and the mainland takes on
average 15 minutes, aboard the iceboat, however, when the
wind is right, the crossing could take as little as one minute!
One of the last Victorian era iceboats, the Silver Heels is now
on display in the Toronto Marine Museum. – – P e t e r Wilton
HOW I DISCOVERED DACOTAH by Margaret Burrows, 1984.
Tucked away in the mind is an almost universal dream of escape to a quiet lovely island. For a lucky few the dream is
reali7ed. Mine was 34 years ago.
In the spring of 1950, as fashion editor of a now defunct magazine, I was preoccupied with setting up plans for the August m
cover of the magazine. And because we, the editors, tried as magazine people do, to tune into inner dreams as well as outer o
mores, we decided to photograph our cover that May of 1950 at Toronto Islands.
A beautiful girl, a flowing summer evening dress, a typical Island setting—we felt would be a natural to capture a jaded eye
at the news-stands and warm the hearts of subscribers. My job: find all three.
I scored two out of three. Found the model: a lean dark beauty with classic face, expressive eyes and sleek hair in chic
chignon Found the dress: a pink and mauve chiffon that floated in ribbons of colour. The Island setting? I flunked that one,
so consulted my favourite fashion photographer. He knew every interesting setting in the Metro area and promised a wealth
of choices on the Island. The day we picked for the shooting was Friday May 23 before the holiday weekend. e
I hadn’t been to the Islands in many years but when I returned in thought, as people do to Islands, it was always nostalgic. w
I had been to dances at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in my salad days. Enchanted Saturday evenings on wide verandahs i
forever bathed in moonlight, straight out of the Great Gatsby era. And in the hot summer of 1936, I had been squired to the n
newly inaugurated outdoor operas at Hanlan’s Point. The memories are delicious. I heard Carmen and Faust done to the t
accompaniment of ferry-boat whistles, hot-dog vendors and calliope wheezes from the Hanlan’s merry-go-round. e
So the summer of 1936 was my last contact with Toronto Islands until that fateful photography date of May 23,1950,. r
Although I was working in Toronto, I had lived those 14 years without ever going back to the Island. I have discovered since that there are lifetime Toronto residents who have actually reached old age without ever having been across the Bay to the
Blue sky, brilliant sun, sparkling water–it was a true May Day when the photographer, editor, art-director, model and I
took a water-taxi from the foot of York Street out to Centre Island–that charming rustic peopled place looking like a seaside
fishing village with its bustling Main Drag, the small shops, bicycle rental, ice-cream parlour, canoe rental, Manitou Hotel,
Pierson Hotel et al.
It was at the Pierson that the model changed into her romantic waltz gown as we began working our way down the old d
boardwalk along the Lake Shore with its rocky shoreline, stately summer homes, colourful gardens and attractive pavilion& –
We shot the model in gorgeous flower beds, in rose-trellised garden seats and on low tree branches. We shot her sitting on o
lawns with sky and water framing her, and at my screwy behest, shot her sitting below the boardwalk on wave-worn mossy
Fmally we wandered into the sacred precincts of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, shooting our lovely model near the r
sailboats, on the wide verandah, and as a throw-away shot leaning dreamily against a weathered old tree on the Royal’s lawn, w
with that marvellous purply-grey look of the bark that old trees have–perfect with the model’s pink and mauve dress. That was the shot we used on the August cover of Canadian Home Journal, 1950—the model looking as if she were dreamin between
dances, dusky sky and rippling water in the background. t
Eventually, still shooting, we wound up at the Ward’s Island refreshment stand facing the dock and had sandwiches and
coffee while waiting for our water-taxi back to the mainland. While we were munching I said to the photographer, “What a
lovely place to live! How do you get a house out here?” s
“Find out usually by word of mouth when a house is coming up for sale. Talk to the owner, go to a lawyer about the transaction and let City Hall know. They’re anxious to settle more people here—particularly on Algonquin Island which was just opened up a few years ago to returning war-veterans.”
“How do you know so much about it?” I asked him cheekily.
“I live here,” he answered and waved his hand towards Algonquin Island across the lagoon, the little island within the Ward’s Island end of the horseshoe shaped main Island. “If we had got through in time, I would have taken you all to my house on Ojibway for lunch.”
“Paul,” I pursued eagerly, “my fiancee and I are getting married in July and we’ve been looking for a house…you know, old place in the country, quiet spot in the suburbs…but we can’t find exactly what we want. We just can’t picture ourselves in suburban life. Do you know of any places on the Island?”
“Well, yes. A young architect who’s been building his own home over on Dacotah Avenue, just two streets over from me, is giving in to his wife’s hankering to return to England. She was a war-bride, is homesick and keeps running back to visit her parents while Ed is building the house.”
“I’d love to see it. Could we come out soon?”
“Sure. Come out Sunday if you like. My wife and I are just putting siding on our house.”
On such brief casual conversations are lifetimes hung.
The following Sunday of that holiday weekend of May, 1950, my husband-to-be, Arthur Burrows (called Budd by friends and relatives) and I came out to visit Paul Rockett and his wife Kay, who took us over to meet the Mannings on Dacotah Avenue.
It was a simple afternoon tea by the grate-fire. The house was as unique inside as out—showing the artistic talents of the builder. On the outside, a bronzy-green striated plywood with yellow louvres; on the inside black floor, white ceiling, pastel walls.
We talked about everything but a house sale: Island life, city life, housing shortage, war veterans’ DVA, our jobs, our approaching marriage et al. We were starting out the door when I said impulsively to Isobel Manning, “I love your house. If you ever think of selling, do let us know.”
She said, just as eagerly, “Oh we are. We’re going back to England in July.”
“Do give us first crack at it,” I said desperately.
“We’ll call you one of these days and discuss it,” said her husband Ed, a bit stiffly I thought.
As we went out the door I whispered to Budd, “I want it.” And as we walked down the street, I said, “I have never felt such overwhelming waves from the future. Some day you and I will be living in that house, I know.” Said my tall husband-to-be sceptically, “Marg, we know nothing about Island living. It looks like a cottage to me.” Sounded cynical, but he was to become an optimist about the Island future. He was later to predict there would be a community here forever–in the face of yearly, monthly, often daily threats of eviction. We had a lot to learn.
Before the Marmings called toward the end of June, I was on tenterhooks. I wanted the house so badly. My fiance in a more practical mood, wanted to explore other avenues. We were on the point of buying for $12,500, a two-storey newhouse on Laurel Avenue near Burnhamthorpe in Islington with a large living room but no fireplace, 3 bedrooms and handsome dormer windows…when we got our Island call.
The last weekend in June we walked from the Ward’s dock around the lagoon to Algonquin Bridge in a deluge of rain. Budd, with the rain dripping off the end of his nose (we hadn’t brought umbrellas and didn’t realize there was no shelter from dock to the house), was saying balefully, “Every step is taking $100 off his asking price. God, what a desolate place on a rainy day!”
Yet when we arrived at 7 Dacotah, the grate-fire was crackling, the living room looked inviting and we lingered this time over drinks, making desultory conversation. At last the men got down to business.
“What are you asking for the house?” said Budd bluntly.
“I built it myself on my DVA,” said Ed. “I’m an architect, you know. It’s well-built.”
“Your price?” asked Budd with a trace of impatience.
“Too much for a summer cottage.”
“It’s a year-round residence. I insulated it myself.”
“We’ve heard Island winters are rugged.”
“No worse than the suburbs.”
“It only has one bedroom.”
“The den can double as an extra bedroom–or studio.”
“It has no basement.”
“It has a big attic.”
“I still say it’s more of a cottage than a house. I won’t go any higher than $5500.”
“No deal,” said Ed.
My heart sank. There was further polite conversation and we got up to go. I felt as if I were suffocating. I wanted this house so much.
Budd said casually at the door, “Fifty-nine hundred.” Ed said, “Done.” They shookhandsand we became Island homeowners!
The accom panying pi ctur e o f –
lur char acter o f t he m onth w i l l oe r eadi l y i denti fi ed b y m any as dargaret T hor nton, F a s h i o n & 3eauty Edi tor o f t he C a n a d i a n !come Jour nal . A w a y f r o m i t II, and bus y a t 7 D acotah, s he s r eal l y M r s ; A. J . Bur r ow s , wife of Bud.
Marg w ho i s the “easy to t al k o and l i sten t o ” type, w ent t o ichool i n London, O n t „ attend ng the Uni ver sity o f W e s t e r n )ntario and m aj or i ng i n Engl i sh
and History. Aft e r a stint i t Normal school she started out l ife as a school teacher. T h r e e and a half ,years later she e n tered the business w or l d v i a the Advertising Department at Eat on’s Toronto. He r e she wr ote
adverti sing, s tor e publ i c i ty a n d began w r i ti ng fas hi on news.
Fr om Eatons M ar g m oved on
to R onal d’ s Adv er ti s i ng Agenc y in M ontr eal i n 1946 t o handl e
fashion accounts. B a c k t o To r onto i n 1948 t o fr ee l ance f o r a w hi l e, then i n 1949 j oi ned the Canadian Hom e Jour nal as Fash ion Edi t or and has. enj oy ed i t ther e ever since.
A m em ber of t he A. I . Assoc iation, M ar gar et i s al so i n t h e Garden C l ub a n d f ul l o f p l a n s for t hi s sum m er’ s fl ow er s . A l – though she does a l ot of w r i ti ng for her ow n m agaz i ne a n d al so tr ade m akazines, M ar g’ s a m b i – ti on i n l i f e i s t o w r i t e s h o r t stories. O t h e r hobbi es i n c l u d e
May , 1954
Our char ac ter t hi s m ont h I s PAU L R OC KET T
Paul R ockett Ltd., Photo Studios.
t h e a d
m a n
This T or onto com pany i s r a p – a t
idl y gai ni ng nati on- w i de acclaim as a r es ul t of i ts excel l ent m ag azine a n d adv er t i s m ent p h o t o i l lustr ations. A n e x a m p l e o t
Paul ‘ s handi w or k w i th a cam er a was seen r ecentl y i n t he W e e k End P i c t u r e M a g a z i n e s t o r y about t he Is l and, e n t i t l e d ” 1 5 m i nutes fr om t he C i ty .”
Paul w as bor n I n Tor onto and attended H ow ar d P a r k P u b l i c school and W ester n Comm. Fr om here h e w ent i n t o adv er t i s i ng wor k w i t h t he T or onto Star f or 3 year s. D u r i n g W or l d W a r I I he ser ved as a photogr apher i n the Publ i c Rel ati ons Br anc h o f
the R C AF and spent 5 year s i n Wester n Canada, Al as ka and the
Yukon. ( Br r r – r ) A f t e i the w a r he w as em pl oyed at Pr i ngl e and Booth f or 11/2 y ear s as a photo’ 1 1gr apher. I n 1947, w i t h t w o
photogr apher, h e has tr av el l ed to London, Par i s , Jam ai ca a n d New Yo r k f o r C anadi an m a g a – zines. A s a m em oer o f the Ar t Director s Cl ub, he exhi bi ts some of hi s w or k at their annual show and has w on aw ar ds f or the last tw o year s. H e i s al s o m em ber of t h e O n t a r i o Phot ogr apher s Association a n d o f cour se t h e A.I.A. and t he W .I.A. P a u l and
his attr ac ti v e w i fe, K a y b u i l t thei r Own hom e on Oj i bw ay Aye flue
‘remodelled I n t o qui t e “a s m a r t
the Is l and f or six year s and have
two girl s. Susan, 9, and Bar bar a, p i
7. P a u l R oc k ett Lt d. i s on t he e c
l ookout f o r m odel s , es pec i al l y
male m odel s y o u don’ t have c
l ook l i k e a t y pe or tr ade. A n d •
It’ s a good- payi ng j ob, too. • b
col lecting g o o d r e c o r d s a n d
The other hal f of t he Bur r ow
team, B u d , i s al s o t al ent ed— a scholar ship w i nni ng a r t i s t , a good m usi ci an, r a n a d r a m a school, n o w i n m ot i on- pi c t ur e business—more about hi m som e
other phot o special i sts he star t a
ed Panda Studios. F o u r y e a r s
later Paul m oved agai n t h i s r
tim e to eptabl ish hi s ow n pr esent k
business, w hi c h i s k eepi ng h i m G
and hi s employees q u i t e b u s y .
Chatelaine M agazine, i n a r e – l
cent edi ti on, dubbed Paul ” t h e
har dest w or k i ng photogr apher i n
other ti m e. Al t hough onl y 3 1 / 4
Canada.” A c u r r e n t as s i gn
years on t h e i sl and. they l ove i t here a n d hav e m ade a g r e a t num ber of fr i ends i n t hat time.•. Al Gonk.
m ent h e i s o n f o r C hatel ai ne i s
tak i ng him to al l the m aj or cities
across Canada to photogr aph city
women. A leading fashion l
The passage by Marg is an excerpt from her 229-page unpublished memoir, Home Is An Island. You
can look forward to further episodes in succeeding newsletters. It’s very interesting and well-written. j
The ALGONQUIN CHARACTER clippings are from The Centre Islander. The columnist Al Gonk
was Al Rae, original owner of 3 Nottawa (handy to the QCYC, where he was Commodore).
Paul Rockett designed and built 5 Ojibway in 1948 as a modest 2-bedroom hip-roofed bungalow,
much like most of its neighbours up and down Ojibway. The “smart show piece” mentioned in the article refers to a later “improvement”. Paul had seen Don Mills (begun in 1953) and he perceived his hip roofed creation as being passé. Down came the roof, up went the massive chimney (which never drew properly), he expanded the floor plan in 3 directions, installed the present low-pitched shed-type roof (which never drained properly), and added a breezeway where the carport would have go”c in the Don Mills version. Paul presently lives in Vancouver; I’ve corresponded with him and he has kindly provided details o f his construction activities. Peter Cridland was working as a planner on the Don Mills development at the time, and he had his eye on a ravine lot for himself. A close call for the Island community — the Cridlands could easily have become Don Millers instead of Islanders!
variations, Paris, 1950 •
the October, 1950, Canadian Home Journal,
explained the newest Paris fashion trends. Writing i n an excited, breathless manner, Thornton described the “fall fashion drama,” as she
L EARN Your Lines, by Margaret Thornton, in L
called it: “Blazing trees are Your backdrop, an arch of
blue your proscenium, bright leaves your footlights.
Paris, that great fashion director, has sent forth her A
cues. The look is lean, the silhouette a slender sculp 1
tured column. However, the couturiers, with charm ing paradox, give us dramatic variations — a side
bustle here, a swaying panel there, a burst of fulness
fore or aft — but always the clean delineation of the r t
figure coming through, and a feeling of animation
Choices, she noted, were extensive. Draped sides,
pleats, or a tunic were suggested f or those who
couldn’t wear slim, straight skins. Swagger coats, 1
which resemble our contemporary swing numbers, were advised for those who couldn’t handle the new
fitted styles. .
She went on to discuss the top portion of the ensem
bles: “While rounded shoulders and huge dolmans ” –
are strongly in the limelight, there is a gradual revival T
of the seamed built-up shoulders. And while Paris, London, and New York are showing skirts fourteen
inches from the floor, your own mid-calf is still the
best critenon.” .
As for colour, she wrote that a brilliant orange, “a S
mellow rust, mysterious purple or trenchant green,” would be appropriate. But, as always, the list included
an elegant black or gray “shocked with a brilliant
jewel, a giddy belt, or gay flaunt of scarf.” /
Nowadays, a “gay flaunt” means something else. 9
galalavender satin, its
bodiceswished with block
• I t was. a happy period of my writ- ing career as fashion editor of Cana dian Home Journal from 1949 until 1956, under our late, beloved editor .
Rumours-ofmy . .
I hear from a friend of mine that your paper has published a letter in the Fashion
‘Re: Fashion Flashback: Dramatic .
resigned when the owner, the late
and Design section (Feb. 2) written by Margaret Thornton Burrow who refers to
Variations, Paris, 1950, b y Hy la :Mults Fox, Jan. 5.
It was a pleasant surprise to see my
‘,Jack Kent Cooke, changed the edito- rial policy and affronted the whole •Staff.
me as “the late Jack Kent Cooke.” can assure you I am alive, while recog nizing that death is as inevitable as tomor
byline and Paris report of 45 years
‘I am now in my 80s, and after 43
row —but not quite so imminent. I hope.
ago recalled in your Fashion section, albeit embarrassing to bave my style ‘dubbed “breathless and exciting.”
years of’ living at Toronto Island, am
enjoying life in a senior residence in y
the city. I guess my ancient purple E
Jack Kent Cooke;Middleburg, Va.
Trend of’ the 50s maybe? Now all is t
so cool and laid back.
prose is now —-like Shakespeare’s — in the public ddinain. it’s flattering
crn,Je – •
that someone sees fit to preserve it for posterity.
Margaret Burrows, Toronto M