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Presenting – A Record Tour of the Beach front and a Mission of Mercy With Gene Domagala

Presenting – A Record Tour of the Beach front and a Mission of Mercy With Gene Domagala

Gene Domagala is not only a important volunteer in the Seaside, an particular person who allows out with all types of charities and non-earnings companies – a “utility man” as Bob Murdoch from Centre 55 calls him – he is also one particular of the most well-informed people today about the Seashore. So in late December we experienced covered the western end of Queen Street East right now we were going to have a look at the eastern and northern finish of the neighbourhood.

We achieved yet again at the Seashores Library, a terrific meeting issue ideal in the coronary heart of the Beach, at the intersection of Queen Street and Lee Avenue. Gene permit me know that he had been notified this morning that the furnace of a community resident in the East conclude of the Seashore experienced damaged down, so our neighbourhood tour would also have to be a “mission of mercy” to produce a number of moveable heaters to this household in want. So the initial factor we did was to select up three space heaters and drive into the east conclusion of the Beach front shut to the Balmy Seashore Club to fall off the heaters at a stately older house. Gene promised to be back afterwards today to provide a handful of further heaters in get to make confident that the pipes in the house would not freeze considering that the furnace would not be set until tomorrow.

Gene described that the Beach neighborhood is equipped for these sorts of emergencies there are constantly a couple of more heaters floating all over, and Centre 55 keeps about 10 sleeping luggage for vital situations when another person requires to remain heat overnight. A network of men and women appears to be out for their neighbours and tends to make absolutely sure they remain secure and healthy, even in the deep freeze that Toronto has been in for the previous several weeks.

Due to the fact we ended up already in the east conclusion of the Beach front we made the decision to begin our explorations appropriate there. Gene stated that about 120 several years in the past there was a tiny village listed here with a regional pastor whose identify was H. Dixon. He begun a tent church (literally a church found in a tent) and ran it from about 1880 to 1907. The tent church could maintain as quite a few as 500 people. Reverend Canon Dixon, as he was respectfully referred to in afterwards many years, was committed to ministering to the weak and founded missions and soup kitchens for the homeless. This tent church was later to turn into a long-lasting creating – St. Aidan’s Church, which just a short while ago revived Canon Dixon’s legacy with its participation in the Out of the Chilly Software.

We drove down on Balsam Road, and Gene showed me 6 houses that originally date back about 110 many years, lovely wooden clapboard properties with unique architectural characteristics. At the base of Balsam Avenue is the former Alexandra Lodge Annex, currently a personal home. Gene spelled out that about a century in the past there ended up substantial houses together the base of Fernwood Avenue which used to be referred to as “Lakefront Avenue”. The Alexandra Resort experienced far more than 30 rooms, and two free standing additions were created: Annex 1 and Annex 2. The full sophisticated was a summer season hotel and highlighted a boat dwelling at the waterfront and minimal cottages in the again. In the 1890s visitors would arrive from downtown Toronto by streetcar to get pleasure from the stunning waterfront working experience in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood.

Most of these properties were torn down all around 1929 or 1930, but the outdated Alexandra Resort Annex remained and not too long ago underwent a wonderful renovation. There had been numerous influential historic figures in this space: Sir Adam Wilson – the initially elected mayor of the City of Toronto, a notable jurist and a big landowner in the Beach Reverend Dixon James L. Hughes who was also the Chief Inspector of the Toronto School Board, and John McPherson-Ross, the Mayor of East Toronto which included Balmy Beach.

Our historical tour continued toward a different historical intersection in the Seaside: the intersection of Maclean Avenue and Queen Avenue. In the next 50 percent of the 1800s Alan Maclean Howard was one particular of the main landowners in the spot. An fascinating element of his record is that his father was a clerk at the law courts in Toronto for 51 yrs, and his son held the identical placement, also for 51 yrs. A relative of Alan Maclean Howard was the 1st Postmaster of Toronto and a United Empire Loyalist.

Gene defined that Howard was a little bit of an eccentric: he imported Guernsey cows and confirmed them at numerous agricultural exhibitions. He also had three huge ponds with Peking ducks on his country estate which was called Glen Duart. Driving up on Hambly Street, Gene pointed out that this street at a person stage was meant to be as broad as Spadina Avenue. Our generate ongoing north along Lee Avenue in which Gene mentioned that this was the western stop of another major estate in the Beach: the Glen Stewart Estate, owned by Alfred Earnest Ames. This self-made millionaire was the youngest president of the Toronto Inventory Trade, and at that time lots of successful stockbrokers and enterprise persons had beautiful mansions on Sherbourne and Jarvis Streets in downtown Toronto. In addition, they would also have summer months households in the Seashore.

The Glen Stewart Estate starts off north of Williamson Highway, while south of this avenue was the locale of the Glen Duart Estate. Ames experienced acquired the Glen Stewart Estate in 1899 from a particular Walter Stewart Darling who was a minister in the spot. Alfred Earnest Ames also had two duck ponds on his estate, and a white picket fence surrounded the overall expansive assets. A twelve foot embankment bordered the residence east of Lee Avenue, this embankment was later levelled immediately after Ames had sold his assets and it was divided up into a household subdivision. The Glen Stewart Estate ended at Kingston Street.

The key entrance to the Glen Stewart Estate was on Glen Stewart Crescent wherever Alfred Earnest Ames’ home was situated. Gene took me to the home which is a big mansion that has been transformed into a multi-device apartment making. The mansion has misplaced fairly a bit of its previous glory, but when you seem at it closely you can nonetheless photograph the attractive and imposing villa that it when need to have been. In 1906 Canada’s Governor Standard stayed listed here for one 7 days to show up at the Queens Plate held at the old Woodbine Race Observe, an occasion that attracted countless numbers of horse-racing fans from all-around the country.

At the rear of the mansion is a steep drop off, and in the ravine down below the crest Alfred Earnest Ames developed just one of the very first golf programs in Toronto in 1920. Prior to the design of the golf program this portion of the residence experienced consisted of woods and ponds. Alfred Ames’ stables had been situated just underneath the crest on Prolonged Crescent.

A modest lifeless-end avenue referred to as Leonard Circle is the former site of the Glen Stewart Estate’s ponds, and some of the residences on this road are essentially developed on stilts, a needed building system owing to the marshy floor. The ponds went all the way to the north end of present-day Williamson Highway College, and Gene stated that about 1912 at least 3 or four boys died in the pond. The back entrance of the university was the major entrance to the palatial Glen Stewart Estate. The properties west of Lee Avenue had been not part of the Glen Stewart Estate they were built in the 1920s though the residences east of there on the former estate ended up place up in the 1950s.

Southwood Generate, the extension of Main Avenue south of Kingston Street, was the borderline involving the Glen Stewart and the Glen Duart estates. East of Southwood Drive there was only bush. When Alan Maclean Howard moved out all over 1915, the residence was subdivided and residences went up on Glen Manor Push East. Today’s Glen Stewart Ravine was the area of a number of ponds that have been located on the former Glen Duart Estate. Gene included that the ravine need to truly have been called the Glen Duart Ravine due to the fact it was part of Alan Maclean Howard’s estate.

As we ended up driving south together Glen Manor Generate, we stopped at the normal ice rink that is managed by community Beach inhabitants. Gene released me to Thomas Neal, a area genuine estate agent, who dropped by a handful of years in the past to choose his boys skating and realized that the rink had been shut down thanks to municipal funding cuts. Collectively with Brock Grant, one more neighbour, he decided that the community would operate the rink by itself, and at any time since then the two men with the aid of other neighbours, have been sustaining the all-natural ice rink on a everyday basis.

Brock and Thomas choose turns, and Thomas by itself spends about 5 hours a working day retaining the ice rink. When I acquired there Thomas experienced just hooked up a significant hose to the h2o offer and was spraying the rink with h2o which was freezing rapid on this chilly working day. Following each snow drop he and many like-minded volunteers arrive out to shovel the rink. Now there are two sides to this natural ice rink: 1 side is designated for hockey players and a person facet is for pleasure skating. Thomas reported that even Male Lafleur when frequented this organic ice rink. He added that he loves retaining the rink, it is great for the youngsters, and at night the facility turns into a wonderfully lit location.

The community spirit is solid below, and Thomas Neal is just one more illustration of how regular citizens pitch in and assistance out in the Beach. I permit Thomas proceed his operate, and returned to Gene who pointed out a wooden bridge that crosses the Glen Stewart Ravine which has been there because 1915. The bridge will be replaced by a new design in the near potential, but Gene, with his like for record, provides that he would adore to hold on to the initial 1.

Ivan Forrest Park, at the southern terminus of the Glen Stewart Ravine, was named soon after a Parks Commissioner of the Metropolis of Toronto from the Second Planet War. Alan Maclean Howard’s ponds have been lastly diverted into pipes which carried the water into Lake Ontario. Even further north, the purely natural element of the Glen Stewart Ravine stretching in direction of Kingston Road has not transformed significantly through new history. Gene described that the ravine is a favourite place of naturalists and chicken fans since of the massive assortment of chicken species and indigenous plants.

From the Glen Stewart Ravine we crossed Queen Road southwards and arrived at the former spot of the Scarborough Seaside Amusement Park, a improvement that was started out in 1906. The former homeowners of this parcel were being the Sisters of St. Joseph who ran the “House of Providence Farm”, a specialized college for persons with disabilities, in this place.

Revellers would arrive from the town in road cars of the Toronto Railway Company these utilised to change down on Scarborough Seaside Boulevard. A large velodrome utilised to be situated just west of this avenue, and the avenue automobile would finish at the bottom of Scarborough Seaside Boulevard. More south in close proximity to the Hubbard Condominium Structures used to be the midway with a big Ferris wheel and 125 foot high tower that was lit nightly with hundreds of electric lights. The tower was also made use of for a assortment of stunts by distinctive performers. The Scarborough Beach Amusement Park also bundled a quarter-mile extended roller coaster experience, and distinctive sights these kinds of as a “Tunnel of Like” and a “Shoot the Chutes” flume trip. The initially boardwalk in the Seashore ran from the Hubbard Road condominium making to Fernwood.

At the bottom of Scarborough Beach Boulevard is a historic plaque that tells the story of the amusement park. As an specialist in and advocate of area historical past, Gene Domagala has been lobbying for historic preservation in the Seaside for several several years, and was in a position to get six historic plaques installed in this space. The plaque commemorating the Scarborough Seaside Amusement Park is 1 of them.

Immediately after the amusement park closed down in 1925 the land was purchased up by developers amid them ended up the Cost Brothers, a workforce of Toronto-primarily based genuine estate developers who created additional than 200 homes in the place, amid them a entire segment of architecturally distinctive fourplexes characterised by their front porches and arched verandas. Numerous of these fourplexes on Wineva Avenue have been listed on the City of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Attributes as a consequence of their special style and design.

Our generate ongoing even further east, and at the intersection of Maclean and Queen Streets Gene pointed out a historical residence: the elevated constructing behind the Beacher’s Café is in fact the original place of Alan Maclean Howard’s home, whilst it has been modified a wonderful offer around the years. Gene had been looking for it for a prolonged time and could not locate Howard’s initial dwelling. He realized that the avenue numbering on Queen Street experienced transformed a number of periods, and he experienced lastly observed the unique home of Alan Maclean Howard. We drove north of Maclean Avenue and arrived on a winding, hilly highway identified as Pine Crescent. This is the only place in the Beach where by there is brick pavement. Gene explained that numerous neighbours arrived collectively and pitched in to get a historic reconstruction of brick pavers installed in their road. At the major of the hill is a lovely private home called “Pinecrest” which dates back again to 1902 and was intended by renowned architect Charles Frederick Wagner, who had also designed the very well-identified Inglenook home on Waverly Road.

Across the road is a mansion formerly owned by Joseph Harris, a member of the Canadian Parliament. We then drove up toward Kingston Street, earlier Glenn Gould’s birth residence on Southwood Travel. Glenn Herbert Gould (1932 to 1982) was a celebrated Canadian pianist and turned in particular very well identified for his recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s keyboard new music. Gene additional that Gould was just about much better identified in lots of countries all-around the earth than he was in Canada. A historic plaque educates guests about the lifestyle of this excellent Canadian musician.

As soon as arrived on Kingston Street we drove by the Notre Dame Convent which also houses a local Roman-Catholic faculty. This location utilised to hold the car or truck barns for the Toronto Avenue Railway Company. We drove into the neighbourhood north of Kingston Road and turned still left on Swanwick Avenue. Gene commenced conveying to me that this whole place used to be called the Village of East Toronto. Just up the road were being the biggest freight yards of the Grand Trunk Railroad which provided marshalling yards, coal storage amenities and a roundhouse. The location in the vicinity of Gerrard and Primary Street was a heart of railroad exercise in the late 1880s until finally the early 1900s. About 300 to 400 workmen have been used listed here, and several of the houses have been built for these railroad workforce. In full the Village of East Toronto had about 5000 people.

Gene extra that several of these employees were alternatively transient, they would often move from work to career, based on the prospects that presented by themselves. There was a challenge with the freight yards, having said that: the steep gradient from downtown Toronto to the Village of East Toronto necessitated a few locomotives, a few firemen and three engineers in the going of the trains. Mainly because of this unsuitable topography the CN freight yards closed down in 1908 and relocated to Belleville and Etobicoke respectively, a shift that plunged the area into a critical extended-expression financial drop.

We continued our travel and stopped at Centre 55 where Gene briefly connected with Bob Murdoch. The Foods on Wheels deliveries have been in comprehensive swing, and Bob and quite a few of the volunteers experienced their palms whole. From there we ongoing to Gerrard Road the place we briefly dropped in at the places of work of the Seashore Metro Information. The new version of the paper had just been printed, and numerous of the captains experienced come in to choose up their quite a few bundles of paper to pass on to their volunteers who appear soon after the avenue shipping and delivery 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 conversation went back again to the historic importance of the Main and Gerrard location. Gene added that there were a few major intersections in the Seaside: Queen and Lee, Queen and Beech as very well as Most important and Gerrard. He described that the space highlighted a farmer’s market and a mix of smaller townhouses and nicer properties. At the corner of Enderby Road and Gerrard Road is a household that applied to be owned by a guy named Donald George Stephenson. He was a lumber service provider with a bodily imposing overall look who was also the mayor of East Toronto. He was very well regarded for his overspending approaches, and in 1894 he developed a series of row houses on Norwood Terrace, but ended up accumulating important debts and in the close he pulled a disappearing act to escape his lenders.

Guiding Norwood Terrace these days is the Main Road Bridge which applied to be a wood trestle bridge all through the 1920s, spanning eight railway tracks. The space close to Primary Avenue was a thriving commercial hub with its personal farmer’s industry, varied retail merchants and numerous theatres. One of these theatres was the Perfect Theatre which currently is a area retail store. The YMCA utilised to be on the other facet of the intersection exactly where the Ted Reeve Arena is these days. Various banking institutions were being positioned at the Major and Gerrard intersection. A hospital and a library were being close by. This was the authentic centre of East Toronto.

From this place we drove south to the intersection of Major Street and Benlamond Avenue, a further historic centre. Gene spelled out that Most important Street utilized to be termed Dawes Highway in this place. Subsequent Benlamond Avenue into an aged recognized neighbourhood that made use of to be blocked to the public by a gate, Gene informed me about the organization owner duo of Benjamin Morton and James Lamond Smith who had been each bankers with the Bank of Upper Canada. They ended up significant landowners in this spot. Swanwick Avenue, a nearby road, was named soon after Mary Swanwick Morton. With each other these two enterprise adult males designed the initial golfing course in Toronto in 1871 in close proximity to Woodbine and Coxwell Avenues, just north of the St. John Norway Cemetery. On Glen Oak Travel in the vicinity of Norwood Park there are various massive stately homes relationship back to the 1940s and 1950s. There is no by way of website traffic in this region, and this very little nook is pretty much not known to most Torontonians. The house of Edward Lyall Morton, Benjamin Morton’s son, is in this neighbourhood, and some of the nicest properties are found on smaller aspect streets at the edge of an escarpment with a gorgeous watch around the Seaside and Lake Ontario.

We arrived again out on Benlamond Avenue where by the food financial institution at Calvary Baptist Church was in entire swing. Gene extra that this church attributes a attractive stained glass window. Reverend Sneyd collected home windows from bombed out churches in Europe following Entire world War II and set them jointly into a single large stained glass window that was installed in the 1970s. We then drove east on Lyall Avenue, and Gene informed me that the to start with 60 residences on both sides of the road are really guarded as element of a specified heritage area. These homes had been crafted for center class households who had settled here completely in distinction to some of the other lessen cash flow housing that was crafted for the much more transient population of railway workers. Gene pointed out a special element of this neighbourhood: several street corners have properties with huge front yards, an abnormal sight in Toronto’s older higher-density neighbourhoods. Gene referred to them as the “fifty-fifties”: the entrance garden steps fifty yards by fifty yards, and the homes are set in from the avenue.

Our subsequent short halt all through our tour was at Malvern Collegiate, a venerable educational establishment given that 1903. Malvern is a single of Toronto’s best tutorial high school and counts these kinds of illustrious graduates as Glenn Gould, Robert Fulford and Don Getty. Other celeb pupils at Malvern contain Norman Jewison, Alex Trebek, Keanu Reeves, Kiefer Sutherland and Jack Kent Cooke. The outstanding library wing addition on the west side of the setting up opened in 1987 and features a statue that dates back again to the To start with Entire world War.

From right here we headed down on Hannaford Road to Kingston Road where by Gene showed me a nearby ease store that applied to be “Ritches Dairy” – a stone insert in the building’s façade however testifies to the agricultural heritage of this spot. Gene additional that about a dozen dairies were found below about a hundred yrs ago, and he explained that there was nothing at all on the south side of Kingston Road until the 1940s.