2003 sees SARS and international blackout

In 2003 we lived through SARS and a power outage across Ontario and parts of the U.S. Here at Beach Metro News, 2003 was the year we had a major makeover. As I look at old pages every issue to write this feature, I see quirky page arrangements appearing as each of us had a turn in trying new ideas. In 2002, editor Carole Stimmell and I met a designer who had revamped the Globe & Mail in the 1990s, and had remade papers in South Africa, Ireland and the U.S., whom we hired to redesign Beach Metro News.

Changing  was not an overnight process – months went into overhauling  the contents, choosing new easier-to-read fonts, commissioning a new banner, selecting only good photos with news value (and running them large), reorganizing the placement of ads, using templates  for page layout, and learning to be  consistent. The first issue of the revised paper was on March 11, the start of our 32nd year, and it is the format we currently use.

In 2003 Malvern Collegiate Institute celebrated its 100th anniversary. Among the 4,500 guests at weekend celebrations were graduates from the 1920s and 30s.  Captain Malvern (who led the cheers at all games in the 1970s) appeared at the opening ceremonies to lead a rousing version of Onward Malvern, accompanied by the current crop of cheerleaders.  Malvern graduate, former Toronto mayor and guest speaker John Sewell said that in its earlier days Malvern was an academic high school for the Beach at a time when it was mainly a blue collar area.  It offered the same kind of educational standards expected in wealthier communities.  In a neighbourhood that did well in sports, it introduced the youth to the idea of music, literature and theatre.

Among Malvern graduates were pianist Glenn Gould, opera singer Teresa Stratus, athlete Bruce Kidd,  film director Norman Jewison,  footballer Ab Box, millionaire Jack Kent Cooke,  golfers Frank, Bill, Nichol and Stanley Thompson, mathematician Israel  Halperin, artists Doris McCarthy and Gordon Webber,  sculptor Cleeve Horne, trombonist Russ Little, pianist Gary Williamson, zoologist Fred Urquart, and journalist Robert Fulford.

‘Mr. Music’, George McRae, who directed the Malvern bands for 36 years, came out of retirement to be grand marshal in the Easter Parade.

Fred Bodsworth, author of The Last of the Curlews and The Atonement of Ashley Morden, won the $10,000 Matt Cohen Award from the Writers Trust. When asked what he planned to do with the cash portion of the award, he chuckled “It will buy me some working time.” (Mr. Bodsworth died this month.  An obituary and details of a memorial service will appear in October.)

June 2 marked the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. In a letter to the editor, former politician Thomas Wardle Sr. recalled local celebrations. He wrote that churches held special morning and evening services preceding the event.  Residents eagerly bought souvenir editions of Toronto newspapers. The RCAF flew a film of the coronation from London so that Canadians could watch it on television the same day. The Wardles were the first people on their street to purchase a television set so they could watch the CBC coverage with their neighbours.

Residents east of Victoria Park, south of Gerrard, were stunned to learn a major development of seven 23- to 27-storey highrises was planned for the Quarry area between Gerrard and the railway tracks. As far back as 1875 this gravel pit site was extensively quarried.   In the 1950s and 60s, it was used an unregulated dump site for residential waste and industrial waste, including chemicals such as xylene. Since 2003 there have been numerous negotiations, meetings, appeals and rallies organized by Concerned Citizens of Quarry Lands Development.

Diane Lovatt retired after 27 years at the Main Street Library. She lived through the days of lending 78 rpm records and cassette tapes, and of ink pads for stamping the return date in the back of library books.

Kent Sheppard and Ken McLaughlan of Remax/Hallmark Realty were winners of the International Broker/Owner of the Year award at a ceremony in Las Vegas. They were selected from over 80,000 nominations received from sales staff worldwide.

Daniel Aspier, a grade 6 student at Norway Public School, won a city-wide contest on Canadian history. His presentation on First Nations marathon runner Tom Longboat  was one of two city projects chosen to represent the province  at the 2003 National Heritage Fair in Sudbury.

Notre Dame student Melanie Ratnam was the only student in the Toronto Catholic School District to receive a Canadian Merit Scholarship. This covered four years of university tuition and two years of residence costs.

In the 2003 Municipal elections, Sandra Bussin was returned as Ward 32 councillor and Sheila Cary-Meagher as public school trustee. Angela Kennedy was elected to represent Catholic school voters. In southwest Scarborough, Brian Ashton was re-elected as councillor. In the provincial election, Micheal Prue was returned.

Those that passed on in 2003 included Jessie Shillinglaw, 85, a former secretary at Kew Beach School, and a pianist for schools, recitals  and the Kew Beach Couples Club;  Ray Corley, 77,  public transit expert and historian for Courcelette School and St. Aidan’s Church;  and Betty Grepley, 86, a skier, horsewoman, pilot and lifelong member of the Kew Beach choir.

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