The year 1983 is memorable for Beach Metro News for three events. On June 3, one of the hottest nights of the year, 71 people jammed into the gym at the YMCA on Kingston Road for this newspaper’s annual general meeting and election of a new board. There has never been another meeting like it in the newspaper’s 40 year history.
It would normally have been a sedate affair but, with an upcoming federal election, a couple of potential party candidates, who had no history with the paper, were hoping to beef up their community presence by getting a seat on the board. It didn’t work out that way and by 9:20 p.m. president Geoff Jarvis and treasurer Gord James were acclaimed, Linda Greer was re-elected, and Barbara Phillips joined the team. Nanci Lugsdin stayed on as past president.
Technology was changing production. Instead of writing or typing up stories or ads, and sending the work to a printing company to be typeset, the staff were learning how to do the typesetting themselves using simple word processors.
Business was improving. We now published the occasional 24 page paper, and the board decided to take on another employee. Dianne Marquardt joined the paper 28 years ago. Dianne has written her own recollections which you can read here.
In the community there was plenty to report on.
The previous year the hottest issue was a plan by the St. Leonard’s Crossroads to open a group home for parolees, without any community consultation, at 128 Glen Manor Dr. This was thwarted by a group of Glen Manor homeowners called Nine Alive, and the federal government which withdrew funding.
Now others, who felt that every community must share in solving group home problems, met with the John Howard Society to plan for an East End location to accommodate 10 men who were developmentally-handicapped and had been in trouble with the law. All potential residents would go through a rigorous screening process. No one convicted of major or violent crimes would be eligible. The home would be operated by professional staff and a committee of local residents. Led by Dan Ferguson and representing various organizations in the community, the group included Rev. Ted Davey, Elizabeth Greaves, Terry Kelly, Rev. Harry Klassen, Jean Kurelek, Francis Lankin, Judith Leon, Emily McIntosh, George Sloan and Kathleen Timms. A group home opened on Gerrard Street and has been quietly operating for over 25 years.
A Scarborough Road couple, with a daughter at Malvern C.I., tried to have Alice Munro’s book, The Lives of Girls and Women, removed from the Grade 12 curriculum. They objected to the book’s language and philosophy, as well as finding particular passages offensive. They were unable to sway local school trustees, the Board of Education or the Malvern principal. The head of Malvern’s English department said that the book offered a much needed emphasis on growing up from a female perspective, and was written by an author who had received two Governor General Awards.
Following the death of a two-year-old boy, who was run over by a City Parks Department pick-up truck in Kew Gardens, new regulations were introduced for vehicles in Toronto parks. All now had to be equipped with beepers, and trucks larger than half-ton had to be accompanied by a spotter. Trucks servicing concessions or park facilities could not use city parks after 10 a.m.
The Toronto Public Library System had its 100th birthday, and Beaches Librarian Barbara Weissman wrote about its early days in the paper. On Jan. 1, 1883 citizens of Toronto paved the way for a public library by voting in a referendum for a free library system. To celebrate, Mayor Art Eggleton declared June 5-11 Toronto Public Library Centennial Week and festivities were held across the city.
Metro Toronto Region Conservation Authority floated the idea of a ‘Wonderland’ on the Leslie Street Spit (no mention of a Ferris wheel), but facing opposition from Friends of the Spit and others, who liked the evolving urban wilderness, gave up on the suggestion.
A group led by Jeremy Agar, opposed to the testing of the Cruise Missile over Alberta, was seeking to make the Beach a nuclear-free zone.
Chickens on Queen Street
A stroller at the east end of Queen Street found he was being stalked by a chicken. On Neville Park, south of Queen, feathers were flying over a backyard coop, and newspapers, local and city-wide, trotted out every ‘fowl’ joke known to humankind.
The chickens’ neighbours went to court. While the birds’ owner claimed chickens had a humanizing effect in the city, her next-door neighbours called them a smelly health hazard that awakened them at five every morning. The owner had previously been fined $10 under the anti-noise bylaw when her rooster crowed too loudly. “Council cooks chickens’ goose” was a Ward 9 News’ headline. City council decided on a 14-8 vote to keep livestock out of the city, with local councillors Dorothy Thomas and Tom Jakobek voting on opposite sides. The owner of the chickens told the paper that when her chickens went, so would the supply of fresh eggs she and her family had enjoyed for the past 10 years.
Police at 55 Division were startled and mystified when a citizen toted in a 1 1/2 foot rocket, which he found lying on the sidewalk when he went for an evening stroll in the Coxwell/Gerrard area. The rocket was taken to Camp Borden where it was exploded.
Ray the Barber (Ray Klingkusch of Kippendavie Avenue) who had trimmed the locks of Beachers for over 25 years in his salon at Queen and Wineva, retired.
Other businesses on Queen that were advertising in 1983 but are now just a memory include the Ingram and Mack Funeral Home, Daiter’s Creamery, Edison Fish & Chips, Meca Restaurant and Tavern, and Summers Restaurant. On Kingston Road Grenadier Jewellers, Murphy’s Ice Cream, and the Benlamond Tavern are no more.
Sunday store openings was an issue in 1983. Many merchants who wanted to open felt provincial restrictions contravened the new Charter of Rights. Local opponents claimed that Sunday openings in the Beach would bring the same traffic headaches Queen Street already had on Saturdays. They said Sunday was the one day they could enjoy a respite from the hustle and bustle of commercial traffic.