By ALAN SHACKLETON
With the 109th Grey Cup set for this Sunday, many East Toronto residents may not be aware of the quirk of Canadian football history that is at the intersection of Gerrard Street East and Main Street.
On the northeast corner of the intersection stands Ted Reeve Arena named after the legendary Beach athlete, coach and journalist who was a member of the Grey Cup winning Balmy Beach Club’s football teams in 1927 and 1930.
On the southwest corner of the intersection is the Harry Foster Connections building named after another member of those Balmy Beach Grey Cup winning football teams that Reeve also played on.
Reeve’s story is well known as he was already such a sports and newspaper icon that by lending his name to the fundraising for the new arena to be built in the 1950s at Main and Gerrard, he helped ensure that it became a reality. He was known as the Bard of the Beach and lived his entire 81 years in the community. Born in 1902, he died in August of 1983 at the age of 81.
Reeve is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Canada Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Harry ‘Red’ Foster is perhaps not as well known in the Beach, but the Connections building recognizes his long legacy of support for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
The Connections program in the building is operated by Toronto Community Living which supports people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Foster, nicknamed Red, started the Harry E. Foster Charitable Foundation in 1954 to provide money for organizations helping people with developmental disabilities.
Growing up in North Toronto, Foster was inspired to care and ensure that people with such disabilities and challenges were able to live in dignity to his personal experiences with his younger brother John who was known as Jackie.
“Rather than send ‘Jackie’ to an institution, the Fosters enveloped their most vulnerable member with love and a sense of inclusion in everyday affairs,” said the bio of Harry on the foundation’s website.
Foster was born in 1905 and died in January of 1985.
Foster ran an advertising company for decades, is considered a pioneer of “play-by-play” sports broadcasting, and was the chair of the first Canadian Special Olympics that were held in 1969.
Both Foster and Reeve were also dedicated athletes and sports lovers. Foster is a member of the Order of Canada and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Reeve and Foster crossed paths as members of the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers football teams that won the Grey Cup in 1927 and 1930, and now buildings bearing their names stand at the same East Toronto intersection.
If you go into the club’s lobby, you will see photos of Balmy Beach’s two Grey Cup championship teams among the other teams photos on the wall. Foster and Reeve are in the 1927 and 1930 team photos.
Balmy Beach won the 1927 Grey Cup 9-6 over the Hamilton Tigers in a game played at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.
In the 1930 Grey Cup game, also played at Varsity Stadium, Balmy Beach won 11-6 over Regina.
In that game, Reeve famously blocked a field goal attempt by Regina that secured the win for Balmy Beach.
He wrote of his exploits that day:
“When I was young and in my prime
I used to block kicks all the time
But now that I am old and grey
I only block them once a day.”
For more on Ted Reeve, please see https://beachmetro.com/2021/10/11/author-cosentinos-book-ted-reeve-the-bard-of-the-beach-looks-at-the-life-of-the-legendary-athlete-coach-and-newspaper-reporter/
The 109th Grey Cup will be played in Regina on Sunday, Nov. 20, and will see the Toronto Argonauts take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Argonauts are making their first Grey Cup appearance since winning it in 2017, while the Bombers are seeking their third straight national championship. Kick off for the Grey Cup is 6 p.m. Eastern time.
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Great history of our Beach pioneers and trailblazers love the photos we should never forget our history and the people who helped build the beach and Toronto. Side Note: So glad I met Mr Ted Reeve in person at his house on Glen Manor and shared a conversation about sport in the Beach. I was raising funds for trophies the first ever Beaches Ball hockey tournament at Willaimson Rd huge backyard over 400 players and dozens of volunteers .1970-1971 era Ward Nine news covered it as well front page To Star photo of Stacy Paterson the only girl to participate. .