In 1988, Ward 9 became Beach Metro

One of the easiest ways to identify longtime locals is that they still refer to this paper as ‘The Ward 9’. And so it was until 1988 when there were two major changes at the newspaper.

The first was a new name.  Municipal boundaries were rejigged, and the designation Ward 9 was transferred to the area west of Coxwell.  The old Ward 9 became Ward 10 (and nowadays is Ward 32).

The newspaper’s advertising manager Brenda Dow came up with our new moniker – Beach Metro Community News, to encompass our core area and any nearby area we might expand to. Readers entered a contest to choose a new banner for the front page from three designs by Bill Suddick. The ‘sailboats in the right-hand corner’ logo won, although some mistook the sails for shark fins (shown above). This banner lasted until 2003 when Suddick was called back to the drawing board to devise the current one, which kept the sails/fins.

The last issue under the old name was on Feb. 23.

The other big change for the paper was a move from the East City YMCA at 907 Kingston Rd. After 17 years, we had outgrown the space and on Nov. 24 moved to our current location, a storefront at 2196 Gerrard just west of Main.

The paper showed up in the oddest places. One of the Beach Metro’s volunteers, boarding a plane in New York on his way back to Toronto, found a just-off-the-press copy in the seat pouch. He was on his way home to deliver his own bundle.

New columnists joined freelance writers Wesley Porter (gardening), Jan Main (food), John Kenny (astronomy), Barry Morrison (art), Phyllis Schwager (Interviews with local personalities ), Drs. Scott Allan and Pam McDermott (health), Dr. Richard Allon (psychology) and Gene Domagala (history). Todd Mercer began writing on humour, and Janice Gibbons on home décor. There was also a Writer’s Corner where one local author an issue was published. (Our own Bill MacLean, years before he joined the staff, had two stories printed in Writer’s Corner.)

The paper continued allocating a space on the editorial page on a rotating basis each issue to an elected official – as it still does. On her turn on Sept. 23, Beaches-Woodbine MPP Marion Bryden wrote that residents were losing control of their destiny as overdevelopment continued to be a major threat to the quality of life in the East End. Among developments in the throes of citizen opposition were the condos that would become Henley Gardens on the southeast corner of Kingston Road and Victoria Park, the site of the old Dominion supermarket. Local citizens joined Scarborough ratepayers groups and succeeded in having the number of units reduced.

Further west, the old pool hall on Kingston Road east of Lawlor was slated to become a condominium.

For years neighbours had complained about noise and litter generated by the Benlamond Tavern at Kingston and Main. In 1986 ‘The Benny’ was sold and reborn as ‘The Krush’ nightclub. Complaints continued and the City of Toronto bought the building to put a $1.3 million city-home project on the site with some rent-assisted units and others at market value.

West of Main, at 500 and 564 Kingston (the old Wallfield Arms), a 103-bed rest home was planned.

A noisy meeting was held at the Beaches Rec. Centre on Sept. 14 concerning development of 2108-2118 Queen (home of the former Hobbitown Children’s Clothing Store). The proposal was to erect 38 condos and several stores, all built flush with the sidewalk.

When world leaders to an economic summit dined at the Toronto Hunt Club on June 19 as guest of the Canadian government, it was a quiet affair compared to this year’s  G20 summit. All of the GTA was scoured for a suitable site, and the local club proved ideal since it offered world class facilities in an area that was easy to seal off. (Founded in 1843, it is the second oldest hunt club in Canada and sits on 71 acres of prime lakefront land, and has a nine-hole golf course.) Readers may recall the helicopters overhead, or being politely stopped from walking along the bluffs or the beach by buff young men with walkie talkies.

The emergency ward at the Toronto East General Hospital seemed like a war zone on March 12 after a freezing rain caused a rash of pedestrian and motor accidents. About 110 casualties were treated in an eight hour period.

In the summer Jane Fonda, in town to film Letters with Robert DiNiro, fell off her bike after colliding with another cyclist at Queen and Spruce Hill. The actress suffered a fractured nose and bruises.

On the environmental scene there was a movement back to cloth diapers – but not the old white square kind pinned on by your mother. Disposables were revealed to be non bio-degradable and over two years the average infant could generate half a ton of used diapers. Part of the new ecological trend was a store on Queen Street devoted to the sale of ‘Indisposables’, a cotton flannelette model, shaped and fitted like a disposable, and with Velcro tabs.

Helmut Seifert retired from the Beach Barber Shop at 2304 Queen after 25 years of snipping Beach locks.  His first customer was Peter Williams, 8, who paid 50 cents for a trim.  A hirsute Williams, now 33, returned to be the final customer.

After 42 years, Duncan Meyer retired from Beach IDA Pharmacy at the corner of Queen and Balsam, and 53 years as a druggist.

At the Glenmore Fish & Chips, Gerrard and Woodbine, Syd Gasson, 71, battered his last cod. With his wife Ruby he ran for the business for 42 years.

Norma Oaker, a 35-year daycare veteran, retired as supervisor of Kew Beach Daycare Co-op after 12 years.

A convict who had escaped from a US prison in 1987, and was wanted for questioning in several assaults on women in the Beach, was arrested in an apple orchard in New Brunswick.  Frederick Rodney Merrill, 41, had fled his Willow Avenue home an hour before Toronto police arrived. Two local people were charged with aiding his escape.

Vince Burns, a Malvern valedictorian and former Ward 9 News carrier, scored an impressive 99% on his LSAT exam (law school admission test).

Des Conacher and Gene Domagala were among 21 recipients of Medals of Service at the City’s Civic Honours Day. They had served for over five years without remuneration on the Toronto Historic Board.

Bill Marquardt, a regular driver at the Sunset Speedway, was awarded a Best Appearing Car plaque at the end of the season. Marquardt and Number Two, the 1980 Oldsmobile stock car he modified, were known on the circuit as Sweet William and The Deuce.

Myra Corcoran won three bronze medals in the International Police Olympics in Sydney, Australia, earning one in the heptathlon (seven events) and two in relay racing.

In October the area was awash in a sea of pamphlets as two elections were underway – municipal and federal.

Not only had the municipal map changed, so had the way councillors were chosen. Previously there had been two aldermen for each ward, and the one with the greater number of votes became the Metro Toronto Councillor, and the one with the fewer votes, the Ward Councillor. Now councillors had to run for a specific office. When the dust settled, Paul Christie was the new Metro Councillor, and Tom Jakobek had coasted to victory as the Ward 10 councillor.  David Moll, Dorothy Ottaway and Sandra Bussin had been elected as Public School Trustees, and Owen O’Reilly was the new Separate School Trustee.

Over in southwest Scarborough, Harvey Barron was re-elected as Ward 1 Councillor. Brian Ashton started his long municipal career by beating incumbent Bill Bellfontaine for the Metro seat.

Voters interviewed on the street told the paper that their concerns included affordable daycare, better city waste management, rising house prices, making upgrading education easier, abolishing rent controls, combating air pollution, providing housing for families and seniors, and the need for a city policy to handle downtown density and road congestion.

In Beaches/Woodbine riding seven candidates vied to be sent to Ottawa. Incumbent Neil Young of the NDP was returned for a third term.

In November, tenants at The Somersby, 72 Hubbard Blvd., were advised that the apartment building was structurally unsound, and were given three days to move out. The 59 year-old building, the Beach’s own Leaning Tower of Pisa, had listed westward for years but had recently gotten worse, and could possibly collapse  in high winds, heavy rain or snow. Tenants claimed it had been tilted since it was built and were given a reprieve until Jan. 3. (It was replaced by a condo.)

Our ‘What’s Your View’ on the street questions for 1988 related to topics of the day: Are bank services overpriced? Should cats run free? Should hospitals ban smoking on the premises by patients while staff is permitted to puff in designated areas? Should police officers have the right to refuse an assignment if it conflicts with their conscience?  Should Ontario start taxing house speculation profits? Should cloth diapers be banned?

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