Beach Memories: Celebrate Victoria Day long weekend with a self-guided historic walk

A self-guided walking tour through some of the local historical sights of the neigbhourhood could be a great activity during the Victoria Day long weekend, writes columnist Gene Domagala. Photo above is of the Leuty Lifeguard Station. Inset photos show the Scarboro Beach Amusement Park plaque; Community Centre 55; the Ted Reeve Arena plaque; and the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant.

By GENE DOMAGALA

I would like to thank readers of Beach Metro News for their replies to my recent article regarding historic walks. There is much interest for me to continue to plan these historic walks through the Beach and other areas in East Toronto.

There have been some suggestions from the readers, and I will address them. (This is not say that more comments should not be coming from readers. I appreciate them.)

Again, I must stress that the walks will have to meet all COVID-19 safety regulations, and we are not allowed to hold them yet.

In the past, there have been other walks I have done in the area besides those mentioned in my March 23 column.

One walk that I have done many times is in the Gerrard Street East area between Woodbine and Coxwell avenues. We started at Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church, and continued through the old Toronto Golf Course grounds (circa 1876), and then down to the Gerrard India Bazaar area. I first led that walk some 30 years ago.

I have also done numerous walks in the Glen Stewart Ravine area. I would talk about the history of the place and the people while field naturalists who came along talked about the birds, the trees, and flowers. Me, I don’t know a daisy from a walnut. It should be noted that a great field naturalist who was on several of my ravine walks, and was also a Beacher who we should all be proud of, was the late Fred Bodsworth who died in 2012.

I have also done walks featuring the different schools in the Beach area. I’ve also done talks, not walks, with my antiquated slide projector showing photos of the Beach. There have been many occasions where I’ve spoken to seniors’ groups and religious organizations.

How long do my walks take? Approximately 90 minutes to two hours, but sometimes a bit longer. I have been known to be a little long-winded, as many can attest, so that’s why some walks take a bit longer.

How long have I been doing the walks? Well over 40 years.

Most of the walks are arranged so people in wheelchairs, seniors, those pushing baby carriages can take part.

I do not rush, and please feel free to ask any questions or offer any comments on the walks. People coming on the walks are also free to take notes and also use the written information from my columns in Beach Metro News, but ask my permission before using them in anything you plan to publish yourself.

Unfortunately, there have been occasions where some people have taken advantage of my walks and columns, and then published articles as their own – some almost word for word. They were used without obtaining permission or giving credit, and that is wrong.

Occasionally we accept donations for some of the charitable organizations I volunteer for such as Community Centre 55, local food banks, and our interfaith program that provides free lunches for those in need in the community.

And just to confirm to you loyal readers of Beach Metro News that the information on when and where walks will be taking place will be printed in the paper once we are allowed to safely hold them.
While we are the subject of walking, the Victoria Day long weekend is coming up and it would be a perfect time for you to take a self-guided walk through

East Toronto’s history. You can do this by visiting some of the many historic plaques in the community, and you can do it safely and at your own pace.

Please do recognize that many of these plaques are on the private property of the people, so respect their space and don’t trespass.

These plaques have been done in recognition of all kinds of buildings, people, and organizations. They have also been put up by different groups including civic, educational, religious, artistic and other organizations.

I will endeavour to list as many local plaques as I can for your Victoria Day walk, but forgive if I miss some.

Along with plaques, there are also a number of murals on walls of buildings that are well worth seeing.

There are many ways to see these plaques and murals, and if you don’t want to walk you could ride your bike.

Here are some locations that would be worth taking a look at:

Glen Gould plaque – 32 Southwood Dr., north of Williamson Road.

William Stewart Darling house – in the Gerrard Street East and Norwood Road area, the plaque is at 6 Ben Lamond Dr.

Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church – 2025 Gerrard St. E., at Golfview Avenue, on the southeast corner of the church.

Maple Cottage – 62 Laing St., west of Laing south of Queen Street East between Knox Avenue and Leslie Street.

The Ashbridge Estate – 1444 Queen St. E., between Greenwood Avenue and Woodfield Road.

The Beach Hebrew Institute – at 109 Kenilworth Ave., just south of Queen Street East.

The Dr. Wm. Young statue and memorial – Lee Avenue, on the west side south of Queen Street East.

Leuty Lifeguard Station – foot of Leuty Avenue south side of the Boardwalk.

Scarboro Beach Amusement Park – south of Scarboro Beach and Hubbard boulevards just on the north side of the Boardwalk.

Ted Reeve Arena – at the northeast corner of Gerrard Street East and Main Street.

Community Centre 55 – southeast corner of Main Street and Swanwick Avenue.

William Kurelek house – 175 Balsam Ave., on the east side south of Kingston Road.

Lister Sinclair house – 15 Beech Ave., east side south of Queen Street East.

R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant – on the east side of Nursewood Road , south of Queen Street East.

Kingston Road Radial – southeast corner of Victoria Park Avenue and Queen Street East.

Beaches Branch Toronto Public Library – on south side of Queen Street East just west of Lee Avenue.

Kew Gardens Cenotaph – on south side of Queen Street East just west of the library and Lee Avenue.

St. John the Baptist Norway Church – on Woodbine Avenue on the west side north of Kingston Road.

Norway Post Office – on the northeast corner of Woodbine Avenue and Kingston Road at 320 Kingston Rd.

Baron Byng Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1/42 – on Coxwell Avenue on the east side, at 243 Coxwell Ave.

The Naval Club of Toronto – 1910 Gerrard St. E. on the north side.

Small’s Pond – on the east side of Gainsborough Road between Eastwood Avenue and Gerrard Street East.

If you have any comments or suggestions about walks, send me your contact info. This can be done by an email to Beach Metro News editor Alan Shackleton at alan@beachmetro.com

Remember we also have our Beach and East Toronto Historical Society and they are a great source of information.


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