In the spring of 2009 Neville the coyote appeared on the pages of Beach Metro News. He had moved into the Neville Park ravine the previous fall, with mixed reviews from neighbours and pet owners. Staff from Toronto Animal Services tried to catch him, and photographers from the Toronto media jostled for a spot on Bracken Avenue at the top of the ravine to capture him on film. Neville outwitted them all. One reader saw him at the Toronto Hunt Club following three deer and a fox down the middle of the fairway. He is still in fine form, according to Bob Heighway, whose garden backs on to the ravine.
“He’s a fine healthy animal trotting around his territory every day. He has a scrawny-looking mate and a couple of cubs. Neville doesn’t bother us and we don’t bother him,” said Bob.
In October, due to the efforts of the Toronto Beaches Dog Association, led by Chris Yaccato, pet owners were allowed to start walking their dogs off leash on Balmy, Kew and Woodbine beaches in winter, south of the snow fence.
Concerns about the changing streetscape were rampant in 2009, including proposed developments at 14-16 Wineva, 15-17 Leuty, 66-76 Kippendavie, 1864-1876 Queen (at Rainsford), 2-4 Neville Park, a 12-storey condo at Danforth and Woodbine, and the possibility of seven high-rise apartments on the site of the Quarrylands on Gerrard east of Victoria Park.
Another concern was the merits of producing electricity by putting an offshore industrial turbine facility (or wind farm) in the lake off Scarborough Bluffs.
On June 22, after six months of unsuccessful negotiations, a 39-day strike of municipal workers began. The City had asked the unions for concessions on seniority, job security and the banking of sick days. Services that were suspended included city-run daycare centres, summer programs, grass cutting in parks and garbage collection. Among the 19 garbage drop-offs throughout the city was one on the grounds of Ted Reeve Arena.
In the fall, after rider complaints and public meetings, the TTC decided to try splitting the longest streetcar route in North America into two parts. The eastern portion of the 501 Queen line would run from Neville Park to Shaw Street, and the western section from Parliament to Long Branch. The 4 km overlap between Parliament and Shaw would allow passengers in the busiest downtown area to ride without having to transfer.
After years of yearning and petitioning the city by skaters and their parents, the Beach Skateboard Park at Coxwell and Lakeshore was opened on Oct. 3.
Twenty-one Malvern students and two teachers visited the beaches of Normandy, the scene of the 1944 D-Day invasion. They visited the graves of Howard Powell, Cameron Jones, Morris Murray and Margaret Armstrong Smeaton, Malvern students killed during battles to liberate Europe.
Jean Cochrane became the 2009 Beach Citizen of the Year. She was recognized for the breadth of her volunteer activities. Jean served on the boards of Neighbourhood Link and Beach Metro News. She raised funds to preserve the Leuty Lifeguard Station and to restore Maple Cottage. She led a Tea Circle at the Immigrant Settlement Program where women could practise their English, and served interfaith lunches at the Beach Synagogue, as well as selling discarded books to raise funds for the Toronto Library Board.
September 2009 was the 100th anniversary of the first air flight from Toronto, and it took off from Scarboro Beach Park, drawing thousands of spectators. Charles Foster Willard, who had been practising flying for only a month, took off in a Curtis biplane from a wooden trough placed in a narrow alley between two buildings at Scarboro Beach. His Golden Flyer rose 20 feet and plunged into the lake. Four days later he tried again and landed in the lake. The third time, the plane covered five miles in five minutes before he was dunked again.
Beach Metro ran an extensive account of the flight and early aviation history by Joseph Temple in its August 2009 issue. There is also an account in The Beach- an Illustrated History from the Lake to Kingston Road, co-authored in 2009 by Jean and Glenn Cochrane.
Among the year’s milestones was the closing of Azzarello’s Brothers Grocery at Kingston and Main, after 55 years. (Another Azzarello’s, owned by the same family at Kingston and Lawlor, shut down in 2001.) David Azzarello, the third generation of brothers, cousins, uncles and grandparents who had begun the business delivering groceries by boat to Muskoka cottagers, said there were a multitude of reasons to stop. “Physically it was very demanding, the days were too long, the changing times, the changing face of retail,” he said. “The rising cost of the overhead has been really killing me too – water, hydro, taxes, everything.”
Among those who passed on in 2009 was Bob Clements, operator of the long-gone Fallingbrook Pavilion, also known as the Bucket of Blood, at the foot of Fallingbrook’s 100 Steps – also gone. Bob’s hobby was rescuing people and animals from the lake’s icy waters in his rowboat. He had a tripod-mounted telescope and Zeiss night glasses, which he used to sweep the 180-degree expanse of the lake from Pickering to the Eastern Gap as he watched for small boats in trouble. The walls of his top-floor retreat at the Pavilion were covered in awards from such groups as the Royal Life Saving Society.
In May Hilary Rowland, 74, died. Hilary, a good friend to many, spent most of her life in the Beach, and rarely turned down requests for charitable fundraising or help with school programs. For several years she was part of four generations of her family delivering Beach Metro News. In 1984 she organized planning and stitching the Toronto Sesquicentennial Quilt, which hangs in the Main Street Library. At her request, those who attended a party to celebrate her life were asked to bring their dancing shoes – and use them.
Bill Thibedeau, 89, was a machinist working on the Avro Arrow, as well as president of the Machinists Union, when work on the now-legendary plane was cancelled. He still had the telegram from John Diefenbaker announcing plans to close down production. He went on to become a technical high school teacher. Bill, the father of former Councillor Sandra Bussin, was also a Beach Metro carrier.
Lawyer Alf Best, 94, was a lifelong Beacher, and even met his wife Pauline at the Balmy Beach Club. He loved to tell of his boyhood adventures in the tunnels being built for the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant. Along with local MP Andrew Brewin, he was instrumental in getting compensation for Japanese Canadians displaced during the war. One of his neighbourhood projects was getting funding for the ramp at Kingston Road United Church.