History of Beach Metro News: 1986

The Bethel Bible Church at Kingston and Kingswood was closed in 1986.

When I look through the old issues of this paper to write its history, I marvel at how young and how thin everyone looks, including me. And so it was in 1986.

At the AGM in June Barbara Phillips became president, Tom Howat vice president, Judy Campbell secretary and Kelvin Francis was in the early stages of his 26 years (so far) as treasurer.

Kelvin reported that for the fifth consecutive year the paper had increased the size of its publication.  By May of that year all the display advertising space had been pre-sold until September. How we wish those days would come back!

It was decided to increase the newspaper’s board to include two special advisors. When an officer has been involved for at least four years and has a area of expertise which would be beneficial on an ongoing basis, he or she could be invited to stay on. Currently our special advisors are David Windrim and Christina Blizzard who bring 19 years of experience on the board to the paper. Like the other board members, they are not paid.

In January two columnists began their long run with the paper – 26 years and still going strong. Gene Domagala started his history columns, commencing with one about the first Bell Telephone Exchange in the Beach which opened on the northeast corner of Queen and Lee 83 years earlier.

Jan Main became our food columnist and began her tenure with soup recipes – a boon to New Year dieters.

Lorie Murdoch also began  freelancing with features on paternity leave and increasing the role of midwives, both avant guard ideas at the time.

Times were changing.  Drivers’ licences would now include a photograph. The Canadian divorce laws were amended to make splitting up  easier, cheaper and faster – the main change was a reduction in waiting time from three years to one year. It also allowed for a reconciliation period of up to 90 days. The Family Law Act changed the way property would be divided between spouses when a marriage ended.

At City Hall, the term ‘aldermen’ was considered too sexist and those elected voted to call themselves ‘councillors’.

The local landscape was in transformation  too. The Bethel Bible Church on the northeast corner of Kingston and Kingswood Roads closed.  The Kippendavie Cobbler at 1919 Queen hung up his last. Todd’s Furniture at Woodbine and Gerrard sold its final bedroom suite after 56 years in business.

The Price Block (stores built in 1911 on the south side of Queen between Leuty and Lee) was slated for demolition. New stores with two storeys of office space above, and underground parking, replaced it.

Across the road, Wooworths which had been on the northeast corner of Queen and Lee for 60 years, had a display of clocks.  Someone broke the plate glass window and absconded with two box loads.

On Christmas Eve, 1986, the nickel and dime store rang up its last sale. “Where will we go to buy a spool of thread or a fast birthday card?” asked Muriel Haden of Lee Avenue. “As a senior without a car, where do I go to buy elastic or buttons or a dozen other small items that only Wooworths carries?” queried Peggy Richardson of Isleworth Avenue.  Canada Trust is now on the old Woolworths site.

The removal of postboxes from local streets raised the ire of senior citizens and others who claimed the walk to mail a letter was now too long. Beaches Riding MP Neil Young received a ton of complaints from constituents who wanted the boxes brought back, and was organizing a petition to Canada Post.

Canada Post issued a new 34 cent stamp (yes, that’s what it cost to mail a letter in 1986) depicting Molly Brant, the sister of Chief Joseph Brant). Her picture was painted by Sara Tyson of Wineva Avenue.

The Benlamond Tavern at Main and Kingston was sold. The new owner planned to turn it into a 321-seat disco with two bars and a dance floor, called Orange Krush. Neighbours of the ‘Benny’ who were not happy before, now protested about increased noise and traffic. About 50 of them, along with Councillors Tom Jakobek and Paul Christie, appeared before the LLBO objecting to the standard liquor licence being transferred from the old establishment to the new.  The LLBO granted the liquor licence but imposed an 11 p.m. curfew. This was overturned at the Ontario Supreme Court which ruled that the board did not have the right to force the Benny owner, John Katsuras, to stop serving alcohol before the normal 1 a.m. cut off time. There is now an apartment building on the site.

Further up the street at 61 Main, condos “designed for retirement lifestyle” and priced at $69,900 were finally all sold. This was one of the earliest condo buildings in the area.

The moratorium on new liquor licences on our end of Queen Street expired in mid-February and a new law governing the size and location of restaurants was not in place until month’s end. In the interim a flurry of applications was received from local eateries, and Loons, Tony and Peters, Honey Bee, and Boardwalk Cafe were awarded liquor licences.

Revenue Canada prosecuted a Scarborough Road firefighter who used his down time to run a cash-only transportation business employing 20 off-duty colleagues, without declaring the added income. He was ordered by the court to pay $15,000 within 90 days or face a year in jail.

For the 58th year a secret admirer sent Meryl Dunsmore, a valentine. This year it was in  Spanish and came from Puerto Rico. The cards were sent from all over the world and the handwriting and language varied. Meryl, 74 had no idea who her admirer was.

This was the wettest summer in years. Throughout the area people were forced to mop up after basement flooding. On several occasions homeowners on Nursewood Road stood by helplessly as a tide of sewage-laden water flowed into their basements. In the fall City hall allocated $220,000 to stem lakefront erosion between Neville Park and Munro Park. This covered the building of two new groynes and modification of existing ones, because high water levels had almost eliminated the beach and threatened to undermine sewer lines.

Two brothers driving along the lakeshore in dense fog aimed for what they thought was a street light, but it turned out to be the light at the end of a boat launching ramp in Ashbridges Bay.  The pair drove into the lake and at first thought they had landed in a big puddle, until their car began to sink. They were rescued wet but unharmed.

Two Beach men returned from a grueling 47-day voyage across the Atlantic during which hurricane-force winds battered their 35 foot yacht, destroying the rigging. Skipper Ron Mitchell of Juniper Avenue, who lost 40 lbs on the journey,  said it was the toughest challenge he had ever faced. His mate, Jack Shirt of Gerrard Street, broke three ribs when he was pitched against a cabin wall. They sailed Mitchell’s boat, Dawn Ellen, from Scotland to Ashbridges Bay, and had no wish to repeat the experience.

Metro Caravan was still an annual event. It started decades earlier as a way for ethnic groups in Toronto to make their presence known. For a small sum in late June, visitors could drop into dozens of venues around the city, often in social clubs or church basements, for food, entertainment and culture. In 1986 there were three pavilions in the Gerrard and Main area – Helsinki, the Blue Danube, and Edinburgh.

On Nov. 2 Kingston Road was lined with wellwishers waiting to cheer on Rick Hansen as he passed by on his 24,901 mile round-the-world marathon to raise $10 million for spinal cord research. The Man in Motion and his entourage rolled into Variety Village for a 45- minute visit with a crowd of 1,000. Then Hansen wheeled himself down Kingston Road on his way to a reception at City Hall.

Adam Beck neighbours managed to have a makeshift skateboard hill on the grounds of the community centre removed.  They said it caused noise and rowdyism, and claimed the hill and piece of playground equipment were a magnet for teenagers from all over the city.  Our letters to the editor page contained spirited letters from residents, skateboarders and from their parents. There is now a state-of-the-art skateboard park at Lakeshore and Coxwell.

Bookworms on the Danforth would soon get their own library. A spot was found on TTC owned land near Danforth and Coxwell.  The TTC agreed to a 99 year lease for which the Toronto Public Library would pay a token rent. Construction would begin in the New Year.

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