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History of Beach Metro News: 1992

In 1992 Paul M. Babich was inducted into the Canadian Oldtimers Hockey Hall of Fame, one of only 53 Canadians, Americans and Europeans to be admitted. Babich, a former player with the Balmy Bach Oldtimers sidelined by injury, still helps organize and chaperon the team’s European tours. He went on to serve a stint as president of the Balmy Beach Club and is a past president of the Beach Metro News board as well as one of its distribution captains.

In  March 1992 this paper celebrated its 20th birthday. Editor Joan Latimer reported at the AGM that the staff was putting out more 32-page issues – and doing it without tearing each other’s hair out. At deadline the office is like a zoo, she said, with a seemingly endless supply of advertisers lining up. She felt the paper might have reached another plateau before a growth spurt.

An open house and birthday party was held on March 16 where readers met the staff, volunteers and columnists, and saw where the paper was produced. The guest of honour was Norm Houghton, one of Ward 9 News’ founders and  writers, and its original proof reader.

Along with Joan, the staff were Ad Manager Brenda Dow, Office Co-coordinator Dianne Marquardt,  Editorial Assistant Michele McLean, Sheila Blinoff as Business Manager, and Bill MacLean who worked part-time helping to calm down the ‘deadline zoo’.

As the year started, smokers found it harder to sneak a puff. A city bylaw made all daycare centres, laundromats, public lobbies and stairwells smoke-free areas. In all workplaces, sports arenas, recreation centres and public indoor areas where smoking was permitted, health risk notices had to be posted.

Twenty years ago a tough city budget was needed as Toronto faced massive debt and a deficit of $221 million. Local councillor Tom Jakobek was Budget Chief. In a Jan. 14 column he wrote that Toronto City Council had adopted his recommendation of no more borrowing in 1992, 1993 and 1994, and that non-essential reserves should be used to ensure the city was debt free by 2000.  Taxes would be kept below inflation (2.5 per cent) for the next three years. There  would be no increase above inflation for permit fees and other costs to residents. Council had agreed to a hiring freeze to avoid layoffs, and the relaxation of development charges to encourage growth. “It is my aim to see City government scale itself down and refocus on the issues it was elected to address. We need a much greener, cleaner and safer city, and one that costs a lost less to operate.”  He acknowledged that the guidelines for the next three years would be extremely difficult to follow.

Back in 1992 the Police Beat was quite different from today’s version. Instead of a constant stream of youths being robbed of their cell phones and iPods, the petty crimes of the day were home break-ins where microwaves, TVs, VCRs, Game boys, Sony Walkmans, and cassette tapes were stolen.

COPS, the automatic dialing system designed to alert residents of local crime-related problems, was about to call its first subscriber.  Pat Kroesen, Myrna Liskead and Darryl Currie  had led a drive to raise funds to purchase the computer. In ten weeks they raised $22,000, more than in any of the other seven COPS areas. Pat Kroesen was chosen to send the first message to the 4,000 households that had signed on.

A postal worker (and Beach Metro carrier) lost sight in one eye after challenging youths checking out his car. He was severely beaten with hockey sticks, and  also sustained a broken nose and jaw, facial fractures and multiple cuts. The four youths were charged with aggravated assault.

Senior Link became the new developer of the 124-unit housing being built at Main and Kingston Road on the site of the old Benlamond Hotel. The building would be named after Norm Houghton, one of the founders of Senior Link.

Marion Bryden, who retired in 1990 after 15 years as MPP for Beaches-Woodbine Riding, was one of six high-profile Torontonians who received the YWCA’s 1992 Women of Distinction Awards.

The newly-formed Beaches-Woodbine branch of the Reform Party had  recruited over 300 local members. Its  president Hugh Prendergast vowed to fight the next federal election.

There was a movement across North America of men sharing concerns, and questioning old ideas of what it meant to be a man. The theme appeared in Speilberg’s movie Hook, in Streisand’s The Prince of Tides, and in Robert Bly’s runaway bestseller Iron John.  A men’s support group, Breaking the Silence, was meeting at Bellefair United Church.  In a Jan. 14 article by columnist Barry Morrison, the silence was described as “the gulf between father and son, neighbour and neighbour, man and woman,  the silence disguised as ribald camaraderie in the bar after a game,  political games and harassment at the workplace, and the stupidity and insensitivity of government officials snickering at a report on wife abuse.”

On May 12, the local historical group made a momentous decision to change its name and try to settle the Beach/ Beaches controversy once and for all. The East Toronto and Beaches Historical Society became the Beach and East Toronto Historical Society.  “With an almost unanimous vote, this name was changed to reflect the feelings of most long-term Beachers that the name should be Beach,” wrote the president Mary Campbell.

The Beaches Lions purchased an old Boy Scouts Activity Centre at Ashbridges Bay for  its headquarters and club house. The building is also available to community and private groups, and is the site for exhibitions by the Beach Guild of Fine Arts.

World famous film  producer and director Norman Jewison returned to the Beach for a homecoming reception to raise funds for a proposed local cultural centre. The idea has been floated several times but has never materialized.

Among the deaths in 1992 was that of Alex Christie after a lifetime of involvements in community and city affairs. A co-owner of the Meca Tavern at Queen and Coxwell, he was twice president of the Beaches Lions, and for 17 years was marshal of the Easter Parade. He was a past president of the Ward 9 Ratepayers Group, and a member of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism. When the bandshell in Kew Gardens was replaced, it was named in his memory.

Dianne Gunn, the popular manager of Family Trust, passed away. Marie Davis died in her 100th year. Davis was a tireless worker at the Kew Beach Tennis Club, the local Cancer Society and St. John’s Norway Church.

The paper held a Valentine’s Day contest. Over 50 men and women  sent in accounts of how they met their true loves.  The top four entries by Katherine Reynolds, Melanie Egan, Marj Gallaugher and Doreen Dotto were published.

In 1992 the fastest Canadian over 65 was a local man, John O’Neill, 68, who had set new records in the 100m and 300m sprints. In his short two-year career, he had won 28 medals in 29 races.  For O’Neill  the secrets to success were simple. “I don’t smoke. I don’t drink.  And when you’re short (5’3”), there’s an extra incentive… At every meet I’ve competed in, I’ve been the shortest male athlete,” he said.

Malvern grad Dan Christensen was the top student of 1992 at the University of Waterloo, winning the governor general’s silver medal and an award which provided $20,000 annually for four years to pursue a PhD. Christensen had been accepted at MIT where he planned to work on a master’s degree in pure math.
Debra Dawes was one of 14 young Canadian members of Youth to Everest to join an expedition to clear garbage in the Himalayas.

Richard Darling, the minister at Calvary Baptist Church, chalked up 100 miles jogging  along local streets to visit parishioners who greeted him with generous donations. He raised more than $2,800 for McMaster’s Divinity College.

A photo published in  June of paddlers from East York Collegiate winning the Joe McNulty Cup provoked a letter from Joseph Staples of Glen Manor, who often felt a compulsion to comment on  local matters  in letters to the editor. “The picture showing a mixed crew had a jarring effect among traditionalists,” he claimed. “What the hell are girls doing in war canoes with males? Let them get their own canoes if they want to paddle.” This evoked a serious response from Barrie Dudley, Commodore at the  Balmy Beach Club, assuring readers that all mixed teams are very popular and had their genesis at the BBCC.  Joe McNulty wrote in that he had sponsored and coached many mixed teams and knew how dedicated and determined the participants can be. “Are young ladies competitive?  Have you ever observed a female tiger on the prowl?,” he wrote. “Then again they can be just as sweet and gentle as Mary little lamb and, I’m told, just as cuddly.”

In November high winds toppled three houses under construction on Corley Avenue. It lifted the roof off one house and shifted the frame, which then collapsed onto the other two. The three houses then slammed into the side of an occupied residence cracking the concrete walls.

During 1992 local residents, businesses and the two councillors, Tom Jakobek and Steve Ellis, fought a proposed switch to market value assessment in Toronto. By year end the provincial government decided not to proceed with the bill. “Seventy-four  per cent of Beach residents and hundreds of local businesses can now breathe a sigh of relief,”said Jakobek. “City Council is confident that any economic impact study or further analysis of MVA will result in its final demise.”

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