Sunday, February 07, 2016

bonus features: chinatowns

This post offers supplementary material for an article I recently wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this piece.

globe 1907-10-11 asiatic peril editorial
The Globe, October 11, 1907.
The fear of the "yellow peril" in action - one of the more jaw-dropping (from a modern perspective) editorials regarding the place of Chinese in Canadian society during the early 20th century.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

off the grid: ghost city 660 broadview avenue (william peyton hubbard)

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on February 12, 2013.


Portrait of William Peyton Hubbard, 1913, by W.A. Sherwood.
When William Peyton Hubbard was born in 1842 it’s doubtful his father, a freed slave who had arrived in Toronto two years earlier, imagined that the infant would become one of the city’s most powerful politicians. The road to that accomplishment took time: Before Hubbard entered politics in 1893, he baked cakes and drove a horse cab, occupations that were the norm for the city’s small black population.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

off the grid: ghost city 925 bloor street west

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on January 22, 2013.

Toronto Star, October 26, 1948.
Until 1948, anyone headed to the southwest corner of Bloor Street and Concord Avenue typically went to peruse the area’s long succession of furniture businesses, looking for that perfect addition to their home d├ęcor. The granting of a liquor license that year to the Concord Tavern ushered in the intersection’s long association with music as a venue and instrument seller.

Monday, January 25, 2016

off the grid: ghost city 1195 danforth avenue

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on October 23, 2012.

Allenby Theatre lobby, 1936. Image courtesy Silent Toronto, which has more on the feature presentation depicted here.
A suggestion for anyone hitting the town in their best Rocky Horror Picture Show finery this Halloween: Make a pit stop at the Esso/Tim Horton’s at Danforth and Greenwood. Walk through the restored front doors underneath the marquee of the old Allenby theatre. Buy some snacks to fuel an evening of time-warping. Take a look at the old ads in the showcase by the front doors and take a moment to pay tribute to the place where the movie became a Toronto cult favourite.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

off the grid: retro t.o. gambling on conventions with paul godfrey

This installment of my "Retro T.O." column for The Grid was originally published on May 15, 2012.
godfreycitycover
The City, June 18, 1978.
For as long as Paul Godfrey has been involved in Toronto’s affairs, he has pitched hard for what he feels the city deserves. His current campaign for a local casino is the latest in a long string of projects he has promoted as a politician, media executive, or general deal-closer. As Chairman of Metropolitan Toronto in the late 1970s, his presence was seen as a plus when local tourism officials organized a trip to three American cities in April 1978 to bring in convention dollars.

Friday, January 01, 2016

previewing the maple leafs' 1977/78 season

hny 1977-78 cover
The WHA! The original Jets! Willi Plett!
Some people treasure pristine mint editions of old books and magazines. I treasure ragged copies that were well-loved, which display the repeated wear-and-tear of an owner who regularly flipped the pages (just as long as none of those pages are missing).

This is one of the most worn items in my collection: The Hockey News 1978 Yearbook, previewing the 1977/78 NHL and WHA seasons. Part of its weary appearance is due to little Jamie's use of it as something to press down upon while scribbling maps, fake hockey cards, or whatever else entered my brain. Part is my childhood fascination with a season just slightly before I followed pro hockey, spotlighting a league (the WHA) which was gone by the time I started watching Hockey Night in Canada and collecting sports cards.

Monday, December 28, 2015

off the grid: ghost city balmy beach club

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on April 23, 2013.


Photo taken April 2013.
When prominent jurist and one-time Mayor of Toronto Sir Adam Wilson partitioned his property along Lake Ontario in January 1876, he set aside a portion for use as a public “promenade and recreation grounds.” Within a few years, the community of Balmy Beach grew around Wilson’s lands, which sat amid the growing amusement parks and cottages that spurred the development of The Beach.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

off the grid: ghost city 346 spadina avenue

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on September 12, 2012. This was my first piece under the "Ghost City" banner, which the publication had used periodically for similar pieces. "Ghost City" lasted as a weekly column through June 2013, though the title was occasionally brought out of mothballs by other writers.  Since this piece was originally published, the Gold Diamond restaurant has closed.


When the Gold Diamond restaurant opened this summer, it inherited a building teeming with ghosts: Paranormal spirits are reputed to have inspired the lion statues out front and once required the services of an exorcist. Symbolic ghosts have also left their mark through the legacies of a Jewish-community landmark and a series of Chinese eateries.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

off the grid: ghost city 260 church street

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on September 25, 2012.

260 Church Street, May 7, 1913. City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 1, Item 35. Click on image for larger version. 
At street level, the Pizza Pizza at the southwest corner of Church and Dundas deviates little from other branches of the chain. Apart from reproductions of vintage French advertisements on the wall and lights dangling like teardrops from the ceiling, 260 Church Street bears the same orange colour scheme and the same special-touting window ads as other locations. But a glance at the upper two levels of its exterior reveals that past orders inside included bank deposits with a side of dipping into savings.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

off the grid: ghost city golden mile plaza

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on February 26, 2013.


tely 54-04-07 gmp 5 loblaws 400
Telegram, April 7, 1954.
Following World War II, Scarborough Township was in dire financial straits. “We didn’t have enough money to meet our weekly payroll,” reeve Oliver Crockford recalled years later. Crockford placed his hopes on a 255 acre parcel of federal land along Eglinton Avenue east of Pharmacy Avenue that the township purchased in 1949. Industrial development quickly ensued, with major companies like Frigidaire and Inglis opening along what was soon dubbed the “Golden Mile.”

Sunday, December 06, 2015

before yorkdale had fashionable santas


Don Mills Mirror, November 22, 1972

Yorkdale Shopping Centre has earned more than the usual publicity for one of its Santas this year -- "Fashion Santa," a sartorially-smart take on the jolly old elf. While this take on St. Nick is designed to appeal to adults, kids can still find a traditional Santa at the mall much as they have since the 1960s.

Yorkdale was among the North York malls the Don Mills Mirror visited in 1972 to talk to the men behind the beards. While I mentioned this story in a "Vintage Toronto Ads" column for Torontoist, here is the full article.

dmm 72-12-13 local santa clauses
Don Mills Mirror, December 13, 1972. Click on image for larger version.

Friday, December 04, 2015

off the grid: ghost city rosedale park

This installment of my "Ghost City" column for The Grid was originally published on November 20, 2012.

Rosedale Field clubhouse, November 30, 1921. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 615.
During World War II, Montreal-based Park Steamship Company named additions to its war cargo fleet after a few Canadian parks. Among those chosen were Hillcrest and Rosedale. Assigned to write historical plaques about each park, poet P.K. Page contacted Toronto civic officials for background information. Parks commissioner Charles E. Chambers provided Page with the info she required, but noted at the end of a March 27, 1944 letter that “neither park has any historical importance.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

bonus features: scenes from the brunswick house

This post offers supplementary material for an article I recently wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this piece.

Globe, December 12, 1921
Ontario implemented prohibition of liquor sales via the Ontario Temperance Act in 1916. It was about as successful as such things go, which is to say, people still wanted to drink. Its repeal began in 1924 (after which weaker beer was allowed), then replaced entirely in 1927 by the creation of the LCBO.

A follow-up to Mr. Jennes's transgression appeared in the Globe five days later. Along the line, his last name lost an "e":
Fred Jenns, bartender at the Brunswick Hotel, was fined $50 and costs or 10 days for obstructing  the police. Jenns held on to an officer when he entered to look for liquor. The explanation was that Jenns kept a little liquor for his own use, and that he did not mean to obstruct the police.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

off the grid: retro t.o. the end of eaton's

This installment of my "Retro T.O." column for The Grid was originally published on August 28, 2012. This was the final installment of the column, though I continued writing for the paper under the "Ghost City" banner.
Toronto Star, August 21, 1999.
“The notice posted on the doors of the flagship Eaton’s store in the Toronto Eaton Centre on the morning of August 23, 1999 is not the usual professional presentation,” observed Eaton-family biographer Rod McQueen. “The 8-1/2 by 11″ document has been photocopied and hung in place with Scotch tape. The typescript statement, evocative of the words carved on a tombstone, reads: ‘The T. Eaton Company Limited, an insolvent person, pursuant to subsection 50.4(1) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, intends to make a proposal to its creditors.’”

Shoppers lined up outside the store that morning, expecting bargains galore as Eaton’s began to liquidate its stock. They were disappointed; the details were still being worked out, and the great sell-off wouldn’t begin for two more days. While some customers bought items before they vanished forever, others browsed quickly before wandering off empty-handed. Nostalgia for a faltering Canadian icon was one thing; benefitting from its misery was another.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

off the grid: retro t.o. dining at the coxwell kresge

This installment of my "Retro T.O." column for The Grid was originally published on June 26, 2012.

Kresge's Come to Toronto
Toronto Star ad announcing Kresge's arrival in Toronto, June 12, 1929. The original location on Danforth west of Woodbine is, as of November 2015, occupied by Dollarama. Click on image for larger version.
While modern successors of five-and-dime stores like Dollarama expand across the city, they lack certain attributes their ancestors possessed. You won’t find the mingling of odours from parakeets, popcorn, and rubber boots. You won’t find the latest chart-topping records. And, in the chains at least, you won’t find a classic lunch counter.