History of Beach Metro News: Life is changing in the Beach

A promotion photo for the paper taken at Sheila’s house by her husband Andrew in 1974. From the bottom: Patricia Corcoran, Cleo Corcoran, Bob Brown, Patti Werry, Leo Toots, and Sheila's son Alan Blinoff.

The year 1975 started well for the paper. It had some money in the bank, a berth at the YMCA on Kingston Road, a team of enthusiastic volunteers and a fulltime staff of two.

To boost the coffers, a raffle called ‘Collections 75’ was held in the spring. Every purchaser of a $2 membership in the newspaper association was eligible for a draw of over 35 gifts donated by local merchants. More than $2,000 was collected.

By mid year the paper had been incorporated. The first ‘directors’ of this not-for-profit entity were Bruce Budd, Tom Howlett, Geoff Jarvis, Francine Marston, Helen Cram, Sheila Blinoff, Joan Latimer, Lenore Diaz and Mary Campbell.

Along with all the volunteers delivering, serving on the board and writing, there was a group who went around the ward snapping photos of people and places. These included Bill Piton and Ron Pope of F Stop and Northern Exposure, Duncan Thorne and John Rydzkowski. If they were lucky, they received a free role of film. On Sunday afternoons at our home, a stream of newsmakers passed through as my husband, Andrew, photographed them. As I look back at the early papers I recognize my old curtains, coffee table, kitchen wallpaper, baby carriage, garden and other background props.

By the fall of 1975, Editor Joan and I, who also filled in as photographers, had a third person to share the shots and the load.  Amy Vanderwal came on board as a full time employee in charge of advertising and as editorial assistant. Now we were able to gradually move up from an eight-page paper to a 12 pager. It all depended on getting enough advertising to cover all the costs.

Among the stories of 1975 was the changing role of police women. Traditionally special duties had been reserved for them such as working in the youth department. Now they were being assigned to the same jobs as men including walking the beat and patrolling in cruisers. There were now 11 female officers at Division 55.  Most of the men accepted them as equals and were becoming accustomed to their new roles. However the Division had received a complaint from one man who spotted an officer with long hair driving a police car and wondered what the world was coming to.

On Jan. 1 the Ontario Ministry of Labour brought in new legislation. Pregnancy leave was now extended to 17 weeks for employees with one year of service or more, and covered all businesses with one or more staff. It was no longer necessary for employers to provide transportation for women finishing or starting work between midnight and 6 a.m. Females over 18 were no longer prohibited from working after midnight.

Perrin Johnston of Spruce Hill Road, Canada’s first heart transplant recipient six years earlier, was encouraging others to become organ donors.

Although strapping had been abolished in Toronto schools in 1973, many parents wanted it reinstated.

The Kew Beach Day Care Co-operative opened its door at Kew Beach School on Feb. 3.

Waverley Wilson (of the Wilson Ginger Ale family) reminisced to a crowd at Beaches Library.  He recalled evenings in the waters off Scarboro Beach in the 1920s when a flotilla of canoes sat offshore so that their occupants could listen to the music from the bandshell. “The canoes were mostly Sunnyside cruisers…varnished up to the hilt. They had a red carpet down the middle, silk cushions, and a kewpie doll with a light inside fastened to the mast.”  When the Cayuga and Chippewa cruise ships pulled into the Eastern Gap, “they generated what we called the nine o’clock swell,” he said.

The Great Canadian Wagon Train (which included two covered wagons and seven people from the Beach) set out on April 1 for Alberta’s Peace River 3,000 miles away. The horse-drawn wagons hoped to cover 20 miles a day. There were many problems along the way, even before they left city limits.

By May 1975 a new local service called Senior Link had just began. It took over the small room the newspaper had occupied in the YMCA, and its original phone number, 416-691-7407. The paper moved into a bigger room in the building, and could now afford to pay a token rent.

The Greenwood Racetrack celebrated its centennial. Thousands of fans, many in old time costumes, jammed the stands to watch the running of the Beaches Handicap, see a high speed sulky race, and enjoy entertainment which include music from the Royal Fiji Military Band.
Howard’s Men’s Shop, a fixture on Queen Street for 58 years, closed when its current owner, Eric Howard, retired.

After a local drive spearheaded by Roy Merrens, Pantry Park became the official name of the sports field between Kippendavie and Kenilworth, by which name it had been known for 45 years. The name is attributed to Ted Reeve who commented that the bleachers looked like the shelves in his mother’s pantry. The city had intended to change it to Beaches Athletic Field.  Bruce Kidd mused that the East Toronto Athletic Field (by the Ted Reeve Arena) should be called Grand Trunk Park, but it never happened.

In an interview with Leo Toots, Ted Reeve, all-round athletic icon for whom the Ted Reeve Arena is named, revealed that he was “a poor skater!”

On New Year’s Day, 1976, Don Purser of Selwood Avenue plunged into the lake. The 80-year-old’s winter swims were a regular part of his life, followed by a roll in the snow. He also liked hanging by his feet from the bars in the Silver Birch and Woodbine playgrounds. He said it cleared his head.

The new Balmy Beach School opened on June 10, 1976. Earlier in the week, a time capsule including stories, photos, documents and a copy of Ward 9 News, was put in the cornerstone.
A group of Balmy Beach School parents  began patrolling the boardwalk and beach between Scarboro Beach and Wineva, handing out plastic bags and asking dog owners to clean up after their pets. This eventually led to the Stoop and Scoop by-laws.

The Beaches Alternate School opened in two large rooms in the YMCA with 20 students. (A few years later it moved to facilities at Kimberley School.)

Beach resident and squash player, Heather McKay won the World Women’s Open Championship in Brisbane, Australia.

Bob Lush of Bellefair Avenue spent 54 days sailing the Atlantic Ocean alone. He was honoured by City Council and presented with a set of book ends by Mayor David Crombie.

In Ward 9, ten men and one woman ran for two aldermanic seats in the Dec. 6 municipal elections, for the spots vacated by Reid Scott and Dorothy Thomas. Patrick Sheppard and Thomas Wardle Jr. were elected. Sheila Cary Meagher was returned as public school trustee along with newcomer David Moll. Father Tom Day was re-elected to the Separate School Board, and Frank Nagel returned as the separate school rep to the Toronto board.

More next time.

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