Gulf War influenced events of 1991

When 1991 began the First Gulf War was already underway.  On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, and Canada joined a 35-country, American-led coalition to liberate Kuwait. Yellow ribbons were tied to local trees in support of our troops.

Security was beefed up at the R.C.Harris Filtration Plant for the duration of the war. Following an incident when four windows were broken, officials ordered water in four large pools dumped back into the lake. The filters were checked but no contaminants were found. Old timers  recalled  that during the Second World War the plant was surrounded  by barbed wire and patrolled by armed soldiers.

At Glen Rhodes United  Church, an Iraqi father of two went on a two-week hunger strike  in support of an immediate ceasefire and democracy in his homeland.

Two trips to Europe by Malvern students were cancelled because of the fear of terrorism.

The first local baby born in 1991 was Jessica Anne Burgess, daughter of Joan and Owen Burgess of Lee Avenue.  Jessica edged out six other newborns to be the Beach Metro baby and receive $500 worth of gifts  donated by local merchants.

Cecelia Murphy House, the Senior Link supportive housing project, opened at 11 Coatsworth Cres. It was named after one of Senior Link’s  early directors and administrators who  helped to get Senior Link started in the 1970s.

Children who once dreamed of running away to join the circus could now stroll over to the Main Space School of Circus Arts at  210 Main St., and learn a variety of skills including trapeze, swimming ladder, trampoline, gymnastics, stilts, German gym wheel,  juggling and clowning. The school, which eventually moved downtown, was one of only three in Canada.

A  banquet was held at the Dawes Road Legion to honour Marion and Ken Bryden. Marion was the MPP for Beaches/ Woodbine from 1975-1990.  Both had worked in the riding since 1959 when Ken was first elected MPP.

The city was seeking  a court order to close Fantasia, a Danforth strip club. The newly-formed Danforth Village Community Association collected 500 names on a petition, claiming Fantasia was illegally operating in a residential area.

Beach Metro News purchased an outdoor sign from a defunct night club – not Fantasia.

Six people were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and to commit mischief in connection with a plot to blow  up Ontario’s biggest Hindu temple and an Indian movie theatre at 1430 Gerrard St. E.

In March the Beach became the third community in Metro to have regular foot patrol police officers on the beat. They covered the area  just north of Queen to the lake, and from Victoria Park to Woodbine.

Beach merchants were ready to make a case for Sunday Shopping at a May 22 public meeting. Back row from left: John Winter, Suzanne Beard, and Sandy Day. Front row: Harold Weisman, Krys McDonald and Susan Day.

A  provincial decision to end Sunday shopping had had a devastating effect on Beach  stores, according to merchants, who  claimed that Sunday shopping accounted for up to 40 per cent of their business.  A survey showed that 81 Queen Street  businesses had closed or changed hands in the previous year. At a public meeting at Kew Beach School on May 22, most residents supported Sunday Shopping  but did not favour the Beach becoming a designated tourist area.

“Ten years ago Beach rents were low. Queen Street East was a tree-lined avenue of houses and lawns, but now these are gone, and in their place are high-rent commercial/condo developments. Small merchants are struggling and some are losing their businesses. We no longer have a butcher, baker, fish store, funeral home, or a Woolworth’s,” wrote D. Kyles of  Wheeler Avenue.

The old bandshell in Kew Gardens was razed, and replaced with a new one named in honour of Alex Christie, a past president of the Beaches Lions Club, and co-owner of the Meca Tavern at Queen and Coxwell.

A new breed of flying termite was thought to have arrived in plywood shipped from California. It was eradicated from two local homes through the use of toxic chemicals applied under tightly controlled conditions. Officials agreed that drastic steps were required as the flying termites would spread rapidly if left unchecked.

House  prices had already breached  the half million mark, although it was still possible to find a  starter home in the area for under $179,000.   There were still a few new condos  available at Henley Gardens starting at $169,900.  Some of the realtors  selling local homes today  had already started their careers , and their younger faces smile out of  the 1991 pages. They  include Gerry DeClute, Greg Myers, Grant Hilborn, Dianne Chaput, Bridget and Michael Klassen, Brent Crawford,  Christine Giles,  Gladys Lippai, Jillinda Greene, Ken Grieve, Kathy Munro, Ray Cochrane, Cathy Brackley-O’Marra, Lee Martin, Gail Grace, Debra Bain, Cheryl White, Pansy Henderson and John Zimnoch.

In July the TTC started an express bus service  leaving the Neville Park Loop weekdays at 7:35, 7:50 and 8:05 a.m, and picking up passengers at all stops from Queen to Woodbine. From there it was express to downtown. The trip took 20 minutes compared to the usual  45 minutes  by streetcar.

An intruder entered a Kingston Road house early one morning through an unlocked door. When the occupant awoke and entered the bathroom,  she found him  taking a bath. He jumped out of the tub and made a clean getaway.

At the Danforth GO station someone was asleep at the switch in September. On the first day of a TTC strike, thousands of commuters lined up on the Main Street  bridge all the way to Danforth Avenue, waiting to take the train downtown. With only one ticket seller on duty, the line moved so slowly that riders were told to board the train and pay at Union Station.

Glen Stewart Park at Queen and Glen Manor was renamed Ivan Forrest Gardens in honour of the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation who  had recently retired. Forrest, who lived close by, began his 44-year career with the city as an office boy and rose through the ranks.

A 1,200 square foot  mural on the outside wall of the Canadian Legion Hall at 1577 Kingston Road was finished by the artist John Hood just in time for Remembrance Day. It shows volunteers in the Scarborough Rifle Company marching off to the Niagara Peninsula in 1866 to repel Fenian attacks . It is the most westerly of seven murals along Kingston Road depicting Scarborough history.

Among the achievers of 1991 were two women born with cerebral palsy. Cathy Steele earned a PhD in bio statics.  Laura Misciagna, the world’s fastest wheelchair racer, was training at Variety Village (and still does).

Twins Jennifer and Paula Puddy were part of the lifeguard team that finished first overall in the Ontario Lifeguard Championships. In the second Glen Ames biathlon the top places went to Ryan Phillips and Amy Badenoch.

Linda Lammers of Kingswood Road won first prize in the City of Toronto Ward 10 front yard contest  in the  over 60 division. The newspaper’s gardening columnist Eric Slater was one of the judges.

Local firefighter John Kitsco, 25 at the time, received the Ontario Medal for Firefighter’s Bravery, for saving a man from a burning building. Only five months on the job, Kitsco, along with his captain, faced three floors of flames and scorching heat to save the  unconscious man.

Dr. Linda Rapson was chosen as a YWCA Woman of the Year for her work in the health field. “A demanding career, a devoted family, and a commitment to improving the medical and social quality of life for all – this is the essence of Linda Rapson,” read the citation.

As 1991 ended,  Max was the most popular dog name (284) according to Toronto Animal Control records. Following Max were  Toby, Sheba, Brandy, Lady, Sam, Sandy, Princess, Duke and 116 Bears.

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