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.”