In 2008 while residents continued to fight encroaching condo developments, several local groups had significant anniversaries.
Kingston Road United Church celebrated its 100th birthday with a service led by its former minister Ted Davey. (The original congregation met on the front porch of a home on Scarborough Road, then expanded to a tent on Beech Avenue. By 1913 it had built the Beech Avenue Methodist Church; that building changed hands over the years, and was demolished in the 1970s to become the site of townhouses at 241-249 Beech Ave. The United Church congregation moved to its current location at Kingston and Scarborough Roads in 1927, complete with its own bowling alley in the basement.)
The Beach Interfaith Outreach Committee, an example of how different denominations and faiths can work together, had ten years under its belt of providing lunches for up to 60 homeless and impoverished people, along with those just looking for some fellowship, on weekdays from fall to spring.
“The idea was to identify and meet the needs of the community,” said Sue Stuart, one of the founders. “We realized that we could do things collectively that we couldn’t accomplish separately.”
The group includes St. Aidan’s Anglican, Beach United, Beaches Presbyterian, Calvary Baptist, Corpus Christi Roman Catholic, Kingston Road United, Toronto Mennonite and the Beach Synagogue. There are about 50 volunteers who cook and serve the meals, and their work is made possible with financial support and food donated by local businesses.
A club with one of the best views of Lake Ontario marked its centennial with a mixed trebles tournament and a birthday dinner. Back in an earlier era, women at the Kew Beach Lawn Bowling Club were only allowed to use the greens in the evening, but by the 1930s had equal time on the pitches. However, men and women did not start bowling together until 1986. The club, which is a public facility, operates all year, and new members are welcome.
Greenwood Off Track Betting celebrated its tenth year with a day of festivities on Feb. 10.
Neil McNeil High School, founded by the Spiritan Fathers in 1958, was 50 years old. The site at Victoria Park south of Kingston Road was the location of the St. John’s Industrial School for Boys from the 1890s to the 1950s.
Carolling in the Park held its 20th service in the Glen Stewart ravine south of the bridge. This popular event was started by Nancy and Jim Palmer and attracts a crowd of over 1,000 every year on the second Tuesday night in December. The event features an hour of singing by candlelight with no commercial involvement.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival was 20 years old. It began when Lido Chilleli, who had been booking acts for his restaurant in the Beach Mall, decided to move the piano outdoors to take advantage of the summer weather. The next year he applied for a permit for a two-day event in Kew Gardens, and the rest is history.
The Beach Citizen of the Year for 2008 was Joan Brent. Her volunteer activities ranged from wheeling mothers and their newborns from Toronto East General Hospital to their ride in the parking lot, to canvassing for Senior Link and the Cancer Society, to helping with a hammer and paintbrush at the Habitat For Humanity Build on Luttrell Avenue, and serving on the board of the East York-East Toronto Family Resources Centre. She is a past president of the Beaches Lions and chaired a program to have volunteers go into schools to check the vision of students. She also organized the collection of old spectacles which were refurbished and sent to third world countries.
After almost 40 years of providing dental care on Kingston Road, often to three or four generations of the same family, Dr. Sheldon Rose holstered his drill for the last time.
A gathering place for women (and a few men) looking for fat quarters, triangle trimmers and hoops, the Quilters Garden at 931 Kingston Rd. closed. After 13 years, founder Sharon Long, took her fabric bolts and a trunk full of unfinished projects, and moved to PEI.
Plans to sell the 55-year-old East City YMCA building at 907 Kingston Rd. proved premature, and the centre is still alive and well and offering adult fitness classes along with a nursery school and a preschool program. A plan is currently in the works for a partnership with a private developer, to renovate the ‘Y’ and build residential units on additional floors above the ground-level facility.
The merchants on Kingston Road held a contest to brand their section of the street between Hannaford and Victoria Park. The winning entry was Kingston Road Village.
Construction of the first phase of the Ashbridges Bay Skateboard Park began at Coxwell and Lakeshore. It was hoped that by the summer of 2009 the park would be ready for ollies, kickflips and feeble grinds. Construction on the second phase of the park is now underway.
Blue recycling bins were banished from curbsides, when new recycling and garbage bins were introduced.
In the federal election of 2008 Liberal Maria Minna pulled off her fifth victory in Beaches-East York, out-polling her nearest rival, the NDP’s Marilyn Churley, by more than 4,000 votes, and becoming the longest serving woman MP in Ontario. In Scarborough Southwest, Michelle Simpson picked up the riding held for 20 years by fellow Liberal Tom Wappel, who retired.
Among those who passed on in 2008 were Jack Turvey, who was a former manager of Ted Reeve Arena and general manager of St. John’s Cemetery; John Gallaugher, who kept up a hectic pace delivering Meals on Wheels, driving cancer patients to appointments, visiting shut-ins and helping with bundling and delivering this paper; and Fred Ashby, another newspaper distributor with a long history of volunteering.
As the year ended two new issues appeared on the horizon – experimental wind farms offshore as potential producers of clean energy, and a plan to sell off city housing in the area.