History of Beach Metro News: 1985

It was 1985. The Ward 9 Community News was now 28 pages thick. This was the year the financial and distribution records were computerized.

At the annual general meeting, the treasurer Gord James said that the paper was now on a solid financial base, and then announced his resignation as he was being transferred to Fort McMurray. One of his last tasks was to set up a pension plan for the staff.

He had given eight years of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer service and many thought we would never find anyone as devoted to the paper as Gord had been. Then we were fortunate to recruit Kelvin Francis who has been our treasurer for the last 26 years.

Bennett Guinn joined the Ward 9 News staff as a photographer in 1985.

There were now five full time employees – Joan Latimer, Sheila Blinoff, Brenda Dow, Dianne Marquardt and Benn Guinn, who was hired in 1985 as a photographer and reporter.
More freelancers began writing for us. The late Dr. Richard Allon was our psychology expert. Wesley Porter, the gardening columnist, explained how to put old pantyhose to work in vegetable gardens. Konrad Doerrbecker interviewed newsmakers. Angus Murray advised students on how to get and keep a job. Ian Gray wrote on financial planning. Andrew Blinoff continued with his What Is It? Photos.

The paper held a contest for its carriers inviting  them to send in pictures of themselves in far away places wearing their Ward 9 News Word Power t-shirts. The winners were James and Edward Duffin of Glen Manor Drive, photographed with a pair of kangaroos in Canberra.

At the start  of 1985, the winner of the 1984 Sesquicentennial beard growing contest was announced. The late Les Kovasci of Bingham Avenue, beat 46 contestants assembled in the rotunda at City Hall, whose beards were judged on fullness, texture, length and grooming. Kovasci, president of CUPE 43, received a reproduction of an infantry sword used in the British Army around 1847 and valued at $650. It was donated by the contest sponsor, Wilkinson Sword of Canada.

In the fall of 1984 a couple of boys found a five ounce gold bar in the bushes of a Scarborough Road frontyard. For three months the bar remained unclaimed in the vaults at 55 Division. In 1985 when a six-month cross-Canada check failed to turn up a registered owner, the bar went back to the finders. It was sold for over $2,000 and each boy bought a mountain bike and a one ounce gold bar.

Although early in the year there was a beer strike, suds still flowed in local bars even though patrons had to forgo Canadian brews.  A check of The Feathers, Solitaire, The Grover Exchange, Fitzgerald’s and the Orchard Park Tavern, revealed that business was booming. In March 26 cases of beer were stolen from a Kingston Road apartment. Someone tried to pull off a bigger heist by smashing the front window of the liquor store at Queen and Coxwell but was scared off when the alarm was triggered.

A local 12-year-old, Justine Blainey of Bellefair Avenue, beat out 450 boys in tryouts for a spot on the Toronto Olympic Hockey Team, but lost her court battle for the right to play hockey with the boys. On Sept. 25, the Supreme Court of Ontario found the  Metropolitan Toronto Hockey League’s rule barring girls from playing on boys’ team was not unconstitutional, at that time.

In the history repeats itself category, a 149-unit apartment building was planned for 550 Kingston Rd., backing on to the Glen Davis ravine. Residents on Glen Davis Drive and Love Crescent were concerned that, if approval was given for this building, others would follow.  Although both local councillors voted against the project, it went through. Now 26 years later the Friends of Glen Davis Ravine and local politicians are currently  fighting to prevent a 49-unit six storey condominium backing on to the ravine.

In 1985 the Beaches Business Association was concerned about the popularity of Queen Street shopping. “It’s a mixed blessing,” said Jean Simon of The Toy Circus. Weekend crowds were choking Queen Street but sales were soaring, and the area was beginning to attract franchises. Rents were shooting up as the area became more trendy. Several small shops had posted ‘going out of business’ signs after being hit with rent increases of 50% or more. Some local stores were opening on Sundays, and some were obeying the law which said that retail stores (with some exceptions) must remain closed.

Tempers flared over the Beach/Beaches controversy. Some residents were appalled when new street signs appeared overnight on Queen Street between Bellefair and Hammersmith, an initiative of the Beaches BIA. The signs proclaimed ‘1877 The Beaches’.  Valerie King and others organized a petition to have the signs removed. After a meeting with Mayor Art Eggleton, the two city councillors and members of the BIA, the signs were taken down, because although this was a Beaches BIA project, the city was at fault for not giving council an opportunity to vote on their acceptability.  The name issue simmered until a few years ago when Beach Metro News held a vote at the request of the BIA before new signs were installed.  It was a close call and the Beach designation won.

For the fifth year a Bach in the Beach festival was held at Bellefair United Church, featuring professional musicians playing the works of J.S. Bach, Handel and Scarlatti.

The Orford String Quartet won a Juno for its two-record album, W.A. Mozart String Quartets. Three of its members, Andrew Davies, Boris Brott and Ken Perkins lived in the area. The group was nominated three years before but lost to another local musician, pianist Glenn Gould.

A couple who broke off their engagement in 1928, met again after 57 years. Clare Proctor and George Nason, both 79, were married at St. Saviour’s Church. On June 1 wedding bells rang for Councillor Tom Jakobek and Deborah Morrish.

Local book editor Rosemary Shipton played a major role in the creation of the first ever Canadian Encyclopedia.  She was one of four senior editors and coordinated the entries of over 1,000 academics, including 350 separate authors.

The Empringham Hotel on the corner of The Danforth and Dawes Road was demolished. It had been built over 100 years earlier by George Empringham and stood on what was once the main thoroughfare for farmers on their way to the St. Lawrence Market. They usually stopped off for a pint on the way home.  In the 19th century the Empringham was one of several hotels in this area, then known as Coleman’s Corners.

A mainstay on Kingston Road for 15 years, Bargain Harold’s closed. The store, at Scarborough Road, was the first of a chain of 50 outlets across Ontario.

George McRae, Malvern’s Music Man for 37 years, retired. Under his baton, Malvern’s concert, marching and dance bands won kudos all over Ontario.

After 50 years the East Toronto Dahlia and Horticultural Society closed because the club had difficulty recruiting younger members. The Beaches Garden Society held its first meeting at Adam Beck Community Centre on Sept. 17.

Jimmy Brown closed his men’s wear store on Kingston Road after 35 years in business. Across the street, Kingston Road Men’s Wear run by Harry Logan ended a 27 year run.

Ulrich Waterman, known as the Birdman of Leslie Street Spit (a.k.a. Tommy Thompson Park) was attempting to control the park’s overwhelming gull population with three assistants and 30 falcons. He used scare tactics on the gulls to stop them from breeding.  Waterman said that 15 years earlier there were no ring billed gulls in Ontario. Now in 1985 there were 160,000. He said the gulls mate from April to July during daylight hours but at night not a gull could be found in the park. At dusk they fly 15 miles out into the lake and sleep in large groups on top of the water. Once they find a suitable nest, they return to the same spot every year. Waterman and his falcons were covering the spit from dawn to dusk during the mating season, terrifying the gulls.

Scenes for the movie Young Again starring Lindsay Wagner (the Bionic Woman) and Robert Urich were shot at 84 Balsam Ave. and at the Balsam Avenue entrance to the Glen Stewart Ravine, just north of Pine Crescent.

The R.C. Harris Plant was disguised as a Chicago prison for the filming of Mafia Princess. It was also the site for shooting Philip Marlowe Private Eye starring Powers Booth. An area outside the plant was transformed into an alley outside a sleazy Los Angeles nightclub for an episode called Pick Up on Noon Street.  At the same time, a second crew shot another episode at Pine Crest, a white clapboard house at the corner of Pine and Balsam, which subbed as a bordello.

The TTC planned a six-month trial with a bus service running from Main Street Station, along Main, Gerrard and Clonmore to the Warden Subway.  It is now route 135.

In the provincial election of 1985 Marion Bryden ran for the NDP, Paul Christie for the PCs, Sally Kelly for the Liberals and Steve Thistle for the Libertarians. The incumbent Marion Bryden was returned.

In the municipal election Tom Jakobek was returned, and in a surprise upset, Paul Christie replaced long-time alderman Dorothy Thomas. Public School Trustees David Moll and Dorothy Ottaway were returned. Voters opted for a Separate School Board change and after 14 years, Father Tom Day was ousted by Owen O’Reilly. Sister Toni Sheehan, the incumbent Separate School rep on the Toronto School Board, squeaked back in.


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