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Beach, not Beaches, after 2006 vote

In 2006 one of the most perplexing questions of our age was resolved – or was it?  The Beaches BIA ran a poll to decide if our neighbourhood  should be known for the rest of time as the Beach or Beaches.  This newspaper ran articles by supporters of both names, each making a logical case for their choice. When the votes were in, 58 per cent of residents and businesses chose Beach, and signs soon went up on Queen Street. The BIA was anxious not to make the mistake of a few years earlier when, without consulting residents, Beaches signs were erected overnight, and appalled Beachers climbed lamp posts and telephone poles to remove them.

On Jan. 18 Beach Metro hosted a packed federal all-candidates meeting at Kimberley Public School (so packed that future meetings would be switched to St. John’s Norway Church). Candidates included Marilyn Churley for the NDP, Peter Conroy for the Conservatives, Jim Harris of the Green Party, and Liberal incumbent Maria Minna, who won one of the most fiercely contested ridings in the country.  Hot button issues included gay marriage, health care, day care, foreign aid and what candidates could do for the riding.

At  the request of the majority of Lyall Avenue residents, the East End got its first Heritage Conservation District (HCD). In July City Council adopted a resolution to create the Lyall Avenue HDC on both sides of the street from Main to Malvern. The purpose of the HDC is to conserve the area’s character by setting guidelines on development and renovation which impact on the density and look of the streetscape.

City funding was available  for residents whose basements were flooded in the storm of May 17. By August construction of the Ashbridges Skatepark was underway.  The Beaches Recreation Centre, one of the busiest in the city, was undergoing renovations to its gym, roof and change rooms.  Ted Reeve Arena, its parking lot and baseball diamonds were overhauled. The Norwood tennis courts were refurbished, and $200,000 would be spent on upgrading East Lynn Park.

Following complaints by neighbours that a church was being used as a smoking lounge with marijuana as a sacrament,  the G13 Beaches Mission of God Assembly of the Church of the Universe on Queen Street  was raided. Among items seized were 4.5 kg of pot, 151 plants, and 1.2 kg of hash and weed oil, valued at $290,000, as well as growing equipment and drug paraphernalia. Seven people faced drug-related charges and a dozen more were charged with possession.

A man who had looked down more throats than anyone in the Beach, pediatrician Anthony Duke, retired. A few years earlier in a newspaper poll he was voted best doctor in the Beach.

A corner drug store that served the community for 60 years closed. Bowles Pharmacy on the southwest corner of Kingston and Main was a neighbourhood fixture, as was its owner Eugene Bowles. He began working for his father as the store’s first delivery boy in 1947. After graduating from U of T’s Faculty of Pharmacy in 1958, he took over the business. Ursula Eley, his assistant for 30 years, moved over to the  Beech Medical Pharmacy, along with the clients’ records.

The final curtain for the Main Attraction came  down after Black Coffee by Agatha Christie at St. Aidan’s Church Hall.  The local group that entertained audiences with over 40 productions, starting  with Neil Simon’s California Suite, provided affordable theatre for 20 years.

At Senior Link/Neighbourhood Link, Mary McGowan took over as executive director from Judith Leon, who had led the organization for 30 years.  Judith and her husband returned to Britain. One of the first challenges  for the new director would be finding a new home for Senior Link as its current facility in Main Square was about to be demolished.

David Breech was the 2006 Beach Citizen of the year. Breech volunteered for almost every worthy cause in the area – including the Spring Sprint, Down in the Beach run, Centre 55’s Share A Christmas, East Toronto Baseball, the wine garden at the Beaches Jazz Festival, St. John’s Catholic Church, Beach interfaith Committee, St. John’s  and Kimberly School Councils, and organizing local scouts to provide hot chocolate and cider at the annual Carolling in the Park.

East Ender Michel Kapral, known as ‘The Joggler’, broke his third record for the Guinness Book of World Records, by running in a marathon while keeping three balls in the air.  At the 2006 Toronto Waterfront Marathon he regained his title with an impressive time of 2:57:53. His average speed was about 4:10 per kilometre. Every time he dropped a ball he had to go back, pick it up and start from where the ball fell. He fumbled eight times, four in the last couple of kilometres.  Kapral  also held the world record for pushing a stroller during a marathon in 2004.

The 2006 Pierre Burton Award for popularizing Canadian history was awarded to local writer Ken McGoogan for his book Lady Franklin’s Revenge, the story of the formidable woman behind the ill-fated 1845 Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage, and subsequent expeditions to find her husband, the 128 crew members and the two missing ships.

An emergency room physician at Toronto East General Hospital, Vincent Lam, won the $40,000 Giller Prize for his book Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures.

In the November city elections, incumbent councillor Sandra Bussin faced competition from Donna Braniff, Alan Burke, William Gallos, John Greer, John Lewis, Erica Maier and Matt Williams. Bussin pulled over 70 per cent of the votes. Among the concerns of local voters were new technology for garbage disposal, infill development, repairs for local city housing and graffiti.

Beach Metro purchased an upright grand baby piano that was used by the Kew Williams family when they lived in the Gardener’s Cottage in Kew Gardens, and donated it back to the cottage, which is now used for community events.

The newspaper was given a box of high quality portraits, mostly of young children, taken in the 1930s and 40s at Morgan’s Photographic Studio at Queen and Wineva. Although over 60 years old, the first one, of Peter Dickson, was identified and claimed the day we published it. Readers recognized another half dozen subjects. We still have 17 photos left, which will be on our website in December. If you recognize your parents, grandparents or high school sweetheart, get in touch with us.

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