2005 a year of awards, awareness and violence

In 2005 a bottle of one of the most expensive wines in the world was opened at the Hunt Club.  Beach Metro News editor Carole Stimmell joined professional winetasters for a sip of 140-year-old Chateau Villemaurine St. Emilion, which she described as “gentle spicy cherry with old plum in the finish.” ‘Phenomenal’ was the verdict of the experts. The 11 remaining bottles in the world were for sale at $26,000 each.

The year began with the Beaches Recreation Centre and Community Centre 55 organizing a concert for victims of the Dec. 26, 2004 Asian tsunami and raising $8,700.

When a renovated Beaches Library reopened in January, three months ahead of schedule, a raffle was held to pay for a bench in front of the building. First prize was a 120-year-old restored pew from the former Emmanuel Presbyterian Church on Swanwick Avenue (now a condo complex).

The Woodbine 92 bus began taking on new passengers, when the route was extended to loop around the corner of Lakeshore and Northern Dancer to the Ashbridges Bay parking lot.

Early in the year police were investigating the murder of 16-year-old Andrew Stewart of Main Street. On Dec. 3, 2004 the East York Collegiate student went to the rescue of two women friends who were being harassed by a gang of 15 youths at a Coxwell Avenue restaurant. He was chased and stabbed to death.  Later in 2005 an 18-year-old youth pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Neo-Nazi and a founding leader of the Heritage Front, Wolfgang Droege, was gunned down in an apartment on North Drive, by a man who approached him to purchase cocaine. Keith Deroux pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. (In the late 1940s North Drive was informally known as the English War Brides Street, because of the number of newlyweds from Britain who moved into the new subdivision.)

Courcelette Public School was chosen as one of the top 40 elementary schools in Canada by Today’s Parent Magazine in the category of preserving history through its association with war veterans who tutored students once a  week. At a time when many fear that youngsters do not know their country’s history, Courcelette has an extensive display in the school’s entrance, chronicling its link with Canada’s past. The school was named after six local men who were among the 80,000 Canadian casualties at the battle of Courcelette in 1916, part of the Somme offensive in France. The school celebrated its 100th birthday in 2012.

At Malvern C.I., fundraising began to repair the desecrated war memorial.   It was sculpted after the First World War by Emmanuel Hahn, who used world champion rower Ned Hanlan as the model for the youth with a downturned sword symbolizing the end of war, and holding broken chains which represented freedom.  By 2005 the youth’s arm and sword were broken, and paint was splattered on his body.

In remembrance of Malvern students who took part in the Second World War, artist Doris McCarthy created a gold-lettered memory book which is housed at the school. Almost 80 years after she was a student there, Doris returned to Malvern in January as guest speaker for the 2004 graduation, which had been postponed when the auditorium roof collapsed in the fall.

A four-alarm blaze in May changed the Queen Street landscape. Over 80 firefighters with 30 trucks fought the blaze behind Starbucks at 1984 Queen East. A wooden house and the 7th Wave Bistro were destroyed.

Mike ‘Pinball’ Clemens was the grand marshal for the Easter Parade. This annual event was the hardest to organize in 35 years, as the mustering site for floats and marchers, the grounds of the R.C.Harris plant, was a construction site.

Former CityTV news anchor and Beach Metro News board member Mark Dailey led a small army of bagpipers with a police convoy from City Hall to Queen’s Park to mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. The much-loved voice of City, Dailey succumbed to the disease in 2010. Beach Metro News File Photo: Jon Muldoon

Over 300 pipers from 15 bands marched from City Hall to the front steps of the legislature to mark the start of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, led by grand marshal and former Beach Metro president Mark Dailey.  The parade was organized by Centre 55’s director (and aspiring piper) Bob Murdoch.

One of Beach Metro’s most popular contests ever was a Mother’s Day tribute called Memories of My Mother. The paper was deluged with entries from ten-year-olds up to great grandparents. The winners were John Ellis, Mary-Jane Sarginson, Judy Bedard, Judy Zappus and Ashley Bolton.

The 2005 Beach Citizen of the year was Arie  Nerman, who was responsible for reviving the Beach Synagogue in the 1980s, and promoting tolerance by making it an active part of the community and the Beach Interfaith group.

In 2005 the Beach Synagogue/Beach Hebrew Institute was 85 years. The Kew Beach Firehall and local artist Greta Lillie both turned 100. The East Toronto Village Daycare Centre had a 20th anniversary.

Patrons of The GOOF were horrified to find it closed for renovations.  It had been caught in a time warp with jukeboxes still playing songs from the fifties. Cholesterol-rich food was the order of the day, and the staff never changed. Hazel Hoeg, a Beach institution herself, had been a server there for 50 years.

In May Dorothy Thomas died at 67.  She moved into the area in the 60s, and devoted a significant part of her life to preserving the unique sense of community in the Beach. Dorothy was part of the reform movement of the 70s when people in Toronto were horrified by the lack of control they had over development. She was the president of ForWard 9, the citizens’ group that fought for the area on several fronts including preserving the waterfront, opposing the Scarborough Expressway and an airport on the Leslie Street Spit, fending off attempts to convert the Island Airport to a ‘short take off and landing’ facility, and increasing local daycare facilities and co-op housing.  She believed that it was a citizen’s duty to participate in government, and was elected as a councillor in 1972 and eventually served four terms.

Another political figure who passed on was Thomas Wardle Sr. in his 92nd year.  His long career in politics included winning 11 local elections. During his term as school trustee and chair of the Toronto School Board, he oversaw the provision of a swimming pool at Williamson Road School. As a city councillor in the 1960s he was involved in stopping highrise development in the Queen and Lee area. He started the East Toronto Community Association which ran the Easter Parade for its first few years. In 1971 he was elected MPP for Beaches-Woodbine and served as deputy whip and deputy speaker. After retirement he returned to the family wholesale merchandising business and at the time of his death was taking orders from the great grandchildren of his original customers.

Helen Cram, 90, died. From 1965 to her retirement in 1977, she was the branch head of Main Street Library. Helen showed movies on summer nights by projecting on to a sheet in the parking lot.  She organized an annual multicultural Festival on the Lawn (before it was landscaped with paths and flower beds). She helped establish the local historical society. She once arranged a concert for Edward Bear, a popular late 60s rock group, on the front lawn of the library, and all went well until she was closed down because of the noise.

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