29/09/2023

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Presenting – A Heritage Tour of the Seashore and a Mission of Mercy With Gene Domagala

Presenting – A Heritage Tour of the Seashore and a Mission of Mercy With Gene Domagala

Gene Domagala is not only a important volunteer in the Beach front, an particular person who assists out with all sorts of charities and non-revenue organizations – a “utility person” as Bob Murdoch from Centre 55 phone calls him – he is also one of the most professional men and women about the Seaside. So in late December we experienced lined the western conclude of Queen Road East right now we had been likely to have a glimpse at the japanese and northern finish of the neighbourhood.

We satisfied all over again at the Shorelines Library, a terrific assembly position right in the coronary heart of the Beach, at the intersection of Queen Road and Lee Avenue. Gene let me know that he experienced been notified this morning that the furnace of a area resident in the East finish of the Seaside experienced damaged down, so our neighbourhood tour would also have to be a “mission of mercy” to provide a several moveable heaters to this relatives in will need. So the initially matter we did was to decide up three area heaters and push into the east conclude of the Seaside near to the Balmy Beach Club to fall off the heaters at a stately more mature property. Gene promised to be again afterwards currently to deliver a couple extra heaters in buy to make absolutely sure that the pipes in the residence would not freeze because the furnace would not be mounted right until tomorrow.

Gene defined that the Beach neighborhood is geared up for these sorts of emergencies there are normally a couple excess heaters floating about, and Centre 55 keeps about 10 sleeping bags for vital instances when somebody requirements to keep heat right away. A network of folks seems out for their neighbours and can make absolutely sure they keep protected and healthful, even in the deep freeze that Toronto has been in for the very last few weeks.

Considering the fact that we have been now in the east finish of the Beach we made the decision to commence our explorations proper there. Gene spelled out that about 120 several years in the past there was a minimal village listed here with a community pastor whose name was H. Dixon. He begun a tent church (literally a church located in a tent) and ran it from about 1880 to 1907. The tent church could maintain as numerous as 500 people. Reverend Canon Dixon, as he was respectfully referred to in later on years, was dedicated to ministering to the inadequate and founded missions and soup kitchens for the homeless. This tent church was later on to come to be a permanent making – St. Aidan’s Church, which just recently revived Canon Dixon’s legacy with its participation in the Out of the Cold Method.

We drove down on Balsam Avenue, and Gene confirmed me six residences that at first day back about 110 a long time, lovely wooden clapboard properties with exclusive architectural capabilities. At the bottom of Balsam Avenue is the previous Alexandra Hotel Annex, now a private home. Gene discussed that about a century back there were significant properties along the base of Fernwood Avenue which employed to be identified as “Lakefront Avenue”. The Alexandra Resort experienced extra than 30 rooms, and two no cost standing additions were being built: Annex 1 and Annex 2. The total elaborate was a summer months hotel and highlighted a boat home at the waterfront and tiny cottages in the back. In the 1890s vacationers would arrive from downtown Toronto by streetcar to delight in the beautiful waterfront practical experience in Toronto’s Beach front neighbourhood.

Most of these buildings have been torn down all around 1929 or 1930, but the previous Alexandra Resort Annex remained and not too long ago underwent a stunning renovation. There were quite a few influential historic figures in this location: Sir Adam Wilson – the very first elected mayor of the City of Toronto, a outstanding jurist and a significant landowner in the Seashore Reverend Dixon James L. Hughes who was also the Main Inspector of the Toronto School Board, and John McPherson-Ross, the Mayor of East Toronto which involved Balmy Beach.

Our historical tour continued toward yet another historic intersection in the Seaside: the intersection of Maclean Avenue and Queen Avenue. In the second 50 % of the 1800s Alan Maclean Howard was one particular of the key landowners in the area. An interesting detail of his background is that his father was a clerk at the law courts in Toronto for 51 years, and his son held the exact position, also for 51 several years. A relative of Alan Maclean Howard was the initially Postmaster of Toronto and a United Empire Loyalist.

Gene spelled out that Howard was a bit of an eccentric: he imported Guernsey cows and confirmed them at several agricultural exhibitions. He also experienced three large ponds with Peking ducks on his region estate which was known as Glen Duart. Driving up on Hambly Road, Gene pointed out that this street at just one stage was supposed to be as vast as Spadina Avenue. Our travel continued north alongside Lee Avenue the place Gene mentioned that this was the western finish of a different important estate in the Seashore: the Glen Stewart Estate, owned by Alfred Earnest Ames. This self-manufactured millionaire was the youngest president of the Toronto Inventory Trade, and at that time numerous productive stockbrokers and business enterprise people had attractive mansions on Sherbourne and Jarvis Streets in downtown Toronto. In addition, they would also have summer houses in the Beach.

The Glen Stewart Estate starts off north of Williamson Highway, when south of this street was the place of the Glen Duart Estate. Ames had acquired the Glen Stewart Estate in 1899 from a specified Walter Stewart Darling who was a minister in the region. Alfred Earnest Ames also experienced two duck ponds on his estate, and a white picket fence surrounded the complete expansive house. A twelve foot embankment bordered the property east of Lee Avenue, this embankment was later on levelled right after Ames had offered his residence and it was divided up into a household subdivision. The Glen Stewart Estate finished at Kingston Street.

The major entrance to the Glen Stewart Estate was on Glen Stewart Crescent where Alfred Earnest Ames’ home was found. Gene took me to the home which is a large mansion that has been converted into a multi-unit condominium developing. The mansion has lost rather a little bit of its previous glory, but when you search at it carefully you can still picture the stunning and imposing villa that it the moment must have been. In 1906 Canada’s Governor Standard stayed below for 1 week to go to the Queens Plate held at the old Woodbine Race Keep track of, an event that attracted countless numbers of horse-racing supporters from around the nation.

Driving the mansion is a steep fall off, and in the ravine below the crest Alfred Earnest Ames created a person of the first golfing courses in Toronto in 1920. Right before the development of the golf class this component of the assets had consisted of woods and ponds. Alfred Ames’ stables were being situated just down below the crest on Extensive Crescent.

A small useless-conclusion street called Leonard Circle is the former locale of the Glen Stewart Estate’s ponds, and some of the houses on this road are basically crafted on stilts, a vital building approach thanks to the marshy ground. The ponds went all the way to the north close of present-day Williamson Highway Faculty, and Gene spelled out that about 1912 at the very least three or 4 boys died in the pond. The back entrance of the college was the major entrance to the palatial Glen Stewart Estate. The residences west of Lee Avenue had been not element of the Glen Stewart Estate they had been crafted in the 1920s even though the houses east of there on the former estate were place up in the 1950s.

Southwood Push, the extension of Main Street south of Kingston Street, was the borderline involving the Glen Stewart and the Glen Duart estates. East of Southwood Generate there was only bush. When Alan Maclean Howard moved out all over 1915, the house was subdivided and houses went up on Glen Manor Generate East. Present-day Glen Stewart Ravine was the site of a number of ponds that were found on the former Glen Duart Estate. Gene additional that the ravine need to really have been called the Glen Duart Ravine since it was part of Alan Maclean Howard’s estate.

As we were driving south alongside Glen Manor Drive, we stopped at the all-natural ice rink that is taken care of by neighborhood Seaside residents. Gene released me to Thomas Neal, a nearby actual estate agent, who dropped by a handful of years in the past to get his boys skating and understood that the rink had been closed down due to municipal funding cuts. Collectively with Brock Grant, yet another neighbour, he resolved that the group would run the rink alone, and ever since then the two gentlemen with the assist of other neighbours, have been preserving the pure ice rink on a each day basis.

Brock and Thomas just take turns, and Thomas by yourself spends about five hrs a working day maintaining the ice rink. When I received there Thomas had just hooked up a significant hose to the drinking water source and was spraying the rink with drinking water which was freezing rapidly on this chilly working day. After each snow fall he and quite a few like-minded volunteers arrive out to shovel the rink. Now there are two sides to this all-natural ice rink: a person side is selected for hockey players and one particular aspect is for satisfaction skating. Thomas mentioned that even Guy Lafleur at the time frequented this natural ice rink. He extra that he enjoys protecting the rink, it is terrific for the young ones, and at evening the facility turns into a superbly lit venue.

The neighborhood spirit is solid here, and Thomas Neal is just one more case in point of how common citizens pitch in and support out in the Seaside. I enable Thomas continue on his get the job done, and returned to Gene who pointed out a picket bridge that crosses the Glen Stewart Ravine which has been there due to the fact 1915. The bridge will be replaced by a new product in the around long run, but Gene, with his like for history, provides that he would like to hang on to the authentic a person.

Ivan Forrest Park, at the southern terminus of the Glen Stewart Ravine, was named after a Parks Commissioner of the City of Toronto from the 2nd Environment War. Alan Maclean Howard’s ponds had been lastly diverted into pipes which carried the h2o into Lake Ontario. Even further north, the purely natural component of the Glen Stewart Ravine stretching towards Kingston Highway has not adjusted a great deal through latest record. Gene stated that the ravine is a favourite place of naturalists and hen enthusiasts since of the large wide range of hen species and indigenous crops.

From the Glen Stewart Ravine we crossed Queen Avenue southwards and arrived at the previous area of the Scarborough Beach Amusement Park, a enhancement that was began in 1906. The former homeowners of this parcel have been the Sisters of St. Joseph who ran the “House of Providence Farm”, a specialised faculty for men and women with disabilities, in this space.

Revellers would arrive from the town in avenue cars of the Toronto Railway Company these utilized to transform down on Scarborough Seashore Boulevard. A huge velodrome used to be found just west of this street, and the avenue automobile would conclusion at the bottom of Scarborough Beach Boulevard. Even more south near the Hubbard Apartment Properties utilised to be the halfway with a large Ferris wheel and 125 foot higher tower that was lit nightly with 1000’s of electric powered lights. The tower was also utilized for a selection of stunts by diverse performers. The Scarborough Seaside Amusement Park also integrated a quarter-mile extended roller coaster ride, and distinct sights this kind of as a “Tunnel of Enjoy” and a “Shoot the Chutes” flume trip. The 1st boardwalk in the Beach front ran from the Hubbard Street condominium making to Fernwood.

At the bottom of Scarborough Seaside Boulevard is a historic plaque that tells the tale of the amusement park. As an professional in and advocate of regional heritage, Gene Domagala has been lobbying for historical preservation in the Beach front for several yrs, and was equipped to get six historic plaques set up in this space. The plaque commemorating the Scarborough Seashore Amusement Park is 1 of them.

Following the amusement park shut down in 1925 the land was acquired up by developers amongst them ended up the Value Brothers, a workforce of Toronto-primarily based serious estate builders who established a lot more than 200 homes in the location, among the them a complete segment of architecturally special fourplexes characterised by their front porches and arched verandas. Numerous of these fourplexes on Wineva Avenue have been mentioned on the Town of Toronto’s Stock of Heritage Homes as a final result of their exclusive design and style.

Our generate ongoing further more east, and at the intersection of Maclean and Queen Streets Gene pointed out a historic assets: the elevated creating guiding the Beacher’s Café is basically the unique area of Alan Maclean Howard’s residence, despite the fact that it has been modified a wonderful deal about the decades. Gene experienced been searching for it for a prolonged time and could not come across Howard’s first home. He understood that the avenue numbering on Queen Road had changed several times, and he had last but not least observed the primary house of Alan Maclean Howard. We drove north of Maclean Avenue and arrived on a winding, hilly highway named Pine Crescent. This is the only region in the Beach where there is brick pavement. Gene stated that several neighbours arrived jointly and pitched in to get a historic reconstruction of brick pavers mounted in their road. At the major of the hill is a attractive non-public residence named “Pinecrest” which dates back again to 1902 and was intended by renowned architect Charles Frederick Wagner, who experienced also produced the effectively-identified Inglenook house on Waverly Highway.

Across the avenue is a mansion formerly owned by Joseph Harris, a member of the Canadian Parliament. We then drove up to Kingston Highway, previous Glenn Gould’s delivery property on Southwood Generate. Glenn Herbert Gould (1932 to 1982) was a celebrated Canadian pianist and became specifically effectively acknowledged for his recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s keyboard audio. Gene additional that Gould was practically greater acknowledged in numerous nations around the world all around the planet than he was in Canada. A historic plaque educates guests about the everyday living of this remarkable Canadian musician.

At the time arrived on Kingston Highway we drove by the Notre Dame Convent which also residences a regional Roman-Catholic college. This space utilised to keep the vehicle barns for the Toronto Road Railway Organization. We drove into the neighbourhood north of Kingston Road and turned left on Swanwick Avenue. Gene started out detailing to me that this full location made use of to be known as the Village of East Toronto. Just up the road have been the major freight yards of the Grand Trunk Railroad which provided marshalling yards, coal storage facilities and a roundhouse. The location near Gerrard and Primary Avenue was a heart of railroad action in the late 1880s until the early 1900s. About 300 to 400 workmen were utilized here, and lots of of the houses were crafted for these railroad personnel. In complete the Village of East Toronto had about 5000 people.

Gene included that many of these personnel have been instead transient, they would frequently transfer from work to career, based on the prospects that introduced on their own. There was a trouble with the freight yards, even so: the steep gradient from downtown Toronto to the Village of East Toronto necessitated 3 locomotives, a few firemen and 3 engineers in the relocating of the trains. Mainly because of this unsuitable topography the CN freight yards shut down in 1908 and relocated to Belleville and Etobicoke respectively, a transfer that plunged the region into a major long-term financial decrease.

We ongoing our push and stopped at Centre 55 where by Gene briefly related with Bob Murdoch. The Meals on Wheels deliveries were being in complete swing, and Bob and numerous of the volunteers experienced their palms entire. From there we continued to Gerrard Avenue where by we briefly dropped in at the offices of the Beach front Metro Information. The new edition of the paper had just been printed, and many of the captains had arrive in to decide on up their several bundles of paper to go on to their volunteers who glance just after the street shipping of the paper. As Gene also volunteers as a captain with the Beach front Metro Information he picked up his bundles of paper, and then we ongoing our historic push.

Our dialogue went back again to the historic importance of the Key and Gerrard area. Gene included that there have been three big intersections in the Seashore: Queen and Lee, Queen and Beech as nicely as Principal and Gerrard. He spelled out that the area featured a farmer’s sector and a blend of scaled-down townhouses and nicer residences. At the corner of Enderby Road and Gerrard Avenue is a property that utilized to be owned by a male named Donald George Stephenson. He was a lumber service provider with a physically imposing physical appearance who was also the mayor of East Toronto. He was effectively identified for his overspending means, and in 1894 he created a collection of row houses on Norwood Terrace, but finished up accumulating significant money owed and in the conclude he pulled a disappearing act to escape his creditors.

Behind Norwood Terrace now is the Key Road Bridge which made use of to be a wood trestle bridge throughout the 1920s, spanning 8 railway tracks. The space about Primary Street was a flourishing business hub with its individual farmer’s sector, numerous retail shops and many theatres. One particular of these theatres was the Perfect Theatre which nowadays is a regional retail shop. The YMCA utilized to be on the other aspect of the intersection in which the Ted Reeve Arena is today. Various banking institutions had been located at the Main and Gerrard intersection. A clinic and a library had been nearby. This was the true centre of East Toronto.

From this space we drove south to the intersection of Main Street and Benlamond Avenue, a further historic centre. Gene discussed that Principal Avenue utilized to be referred to as Dawes Road in this location. Next Benlamond Avenue into an outdated founded neighbourhood that used to be blocked to the community by a gate, Gene advised me about the organization operator duo of Benjamin Morton and James Lamond Smith who were being both bankers with the Bank of Upper Canada. They ended up important landowners in this region. Swanwick Avenue, a nearby avenue, was named following Mary Swanwick Morton. Collectively these two enterprise males created the initial golfing class in Toronto in 1871 in the vicinity of Woodbine and Coxwell Avenues, just north of the St. John Norway Cemetery. On Glen Oak Generate near Norwood Park there are several big stately residences dating again to the 1940s and 1950s. There is no as a result of website traffic in this location, and this tiny nook is nearly unfamiliar to most Torontonians. The household of Edward Lyall Morton, Benjamin Morton’s son, is in this neighbourhood, and some of the nicest properties are situated on modest aspect streets at the edge of an escarpment with a attractive watch more than the Seashore and Lake Ontario.

We arrived again out on Benlamond Avenue exactly where the food lender at Calvary Baptist Church was in complete swing. Gene included that this church characteristics a gorgeous stained glass window. Reverend Sneyd collected windows from bombed out churches in Europe just after Earth War II and place them collectively into 1 large stained glass window that was installed in the 1970s. We then drove east on Lyall Avenue, and Gene educated me that the first 60 houses on both equally sides of the road are actually protected as aspect of a selected heritage place. These properties were being built for middle class households who experienced settled here forever in distinction to some of the other reduced revenue housing that was created for the additional transient inhabitants of railway employees. Gene pointed out a one of a kind characteristic of this neighbourhood: many street corners have houses with massive entrance yards, an unconventional sight in Toronto’s more mature high-density neighbourhoods. Gene referred to them as the “fifty-fifties”: the front yard measures fifty yards by fifty yards, and the properties are set in from the avenue.

Our subsequent temporary stop through our tour was at Malvern Collegiate, a venerable educational establishment considering the fact that 1903. Malvern is 1 of Toronto’s prime academic significant faculty and counts this sort of illustrious graduates as Glenn Gould, Robert Fulford and Don Getty. Other movie star college students at Malvern include Norman Jewison, Alex Trebek, Keanu Reeves, Kiefer Sutherland and Jack Kent Cooke. The extraordinary library wing addition on the west aspect of the building opened in 1987 and attributes a statue that dates again to the 1st Planet War.

From listed here we headed down on Hannaford Road to Kingston Road exactly where Gene showed me a local ease retail outlet that made use of to be “Ritches Dairy” – a stone insert in the building’s façade nevertheless testifies to the agricultural heritage of this area. Gene extra that about a dozen dairies were situated in this article about a hundred yrs in the past, and he discussed that there was practically nothing on the south aspect of Kingston Street until finally the 1940s.