Thursday, August 27, 2009

yesterday's papers



Part of the fun of preparing historical columns is reading the other stories that share space with the subject of my research. These side items sometimes provide the seed for a future column. For example, while researching last weekend's Historicist column about the move of Campbell House, I found an odd Eaton's advertisement that I turned into a Vintage Toronto Ads post. I also discovered a number of stories about local landmarks that were celebrating their grand opening, mired in neighbourhood battles, or proposing actions that never happened. While I may be able to turn these into long essays someday, a couple of them were too good to leave alone.

In short, welcome to a new feature on this blog. The material will mostly be from Toronto papers, but anything's fair game. Rather than drag out this introduction, let's dive right in...

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"Resident says 95% against turning rail line into park"
Toronto Star, July 18, 1970


In early July 1970, The Toronto Planning Board recommended that a three-mile long abandoned Canadian National Railway line once known as the Belt Line should be bought by the city for use as a bicycle/pedestrian trail. Local NIMBYs soon made their opinion known:

Bernard Barrett, who said he represents Chaplin Cres. residents, said they have joined 98 homeowners west of Bathurst St. who earlier protested a park would encourage vandalism and immorality in the area. They will ask city executive and officials at a public meeting at City Hall Wednesday to let them buy the CNR land to extend their back yards?

So which was the real motivation behind those protesting the trail: fear of the outside world intruding on their domain, or visions of a land grab?

The trail triumphed—the Kay Gardiner Belt Park provides a pleasant means of travelling from the north end of Forest Hill to Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Have never noticed a significant amount of immorality while following the path.

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"Massey Hall asks city for new site"
Toronto Star, August 6, 1970


After a consultant's report in 1967 suggested that the venerable venue was beyond modernization, Massey Hall trustees looked toward building elsewhere. They found that the city's Executive Committee was "very sympathetic" to requests for donation of land for a new auditorium. The preferred site was the southeast corner of King and Church.

The move never happenned, though I wonder if a Massey Hall at the proposed location would have eventually tied in or taken over the programming at the St. Lawrence and O'Keefe Centres.

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"Few squares left Dennison fears"
Toronto Star, August 6, 1970


Square dances and polkas may be going the way of dry Sundays in Toronto. Mayor William Dennison today called for attendance figures at this summer's concerts, square dances and polkas.

Does anyone have current attendance stats on city square dances?

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