Time capsule from 1924 remembers Kew Beach Presbyterian Extension Sunday School on Courcelette Road

Rev. Greg Daly of Beach United Church with the contents of the time capsule placed in the cornerstone of the Kew Beach Presbyterian Church Extension Sunday School on Courcelette Road in May of 1924. Photo by Alan Shackleton.

By ALAN SHACKLETON

A couple of months ago a man walked into Beach United Church with a time capsule he had found in southwest Scarborough which gave a glimpse of the history of the community and the church from 100 years ago.

The time capsule had been placed at a building at 181 Courcelette Rd. on May 4, 1924 to mark the laying of the cornerstone of the Kew Beach Presbyterian Church Extension Sunday School at the site.

The man who discovered the capsule was redeveloping the house now on the property and thought that Beach United Church was the best place to drop it off, said Rev. Greg Daly who is the current minister at the church located at 140 Wineva Ave. in the Beach. Before becoming Beach United the church was formerly known as Kew Beach United (from 1925 on) and before that as Kew Beach Presbyterian.

“We opened the time capsule at our May 5, 2024 service with one of our oldest and one of our youngest members,” said Daly, who pointed out that there was not one member of the present congregation who had had a direct connection the Extension Sunday School on Courcelette Road.

Inside the time capsule were a number of newspapers including the May 3, 1924 editions of the Mail and Empire, and the Globe and Mail. There were also copies of what was then a community newspaper called Smiles. The May 3, 1924 copy of Smiles had a schedule for the first half of the Beaches Soft Ball league printed on its front page along with a story about the upcoming opening day of the Scarboro Beach Amusement Park on May 17.

“A forty-piece band has been engaged for the afternoon and another one for the evening performance,” read the Smiles story about the amusement park’s opening ceremonies for the 1924 season.

“The ads in the papers were just fascinating to see,” said Daly of the newspapers from a century ago.

For example, the ad for Ferguson’s Markets (with locations at 2070 and 1885 Queen St. E. and at 873 and 1020 Kingston Rd.) showed it was selling a Porter House Roast for 34 cents a pound, 10 pounds of sugar for 94 cents, a package of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes for 11 cents and two “good size” grapefruit for 15 cents. Ferguson’s also offered free delivery on orders of more than three dollars.

Also, there was an ad for the Beach Theatre which would be showing the movies The Hunchback of Notre Dame (with Lon Chaney) and Bright Lights of Broadway (with Lowell Sherman, Doris Kenyon and an actor named Harrison Ford – no relation to the later Harrison Ford of Star Wars, Indiana Jones fame) that week in May of 1924. The Beach Theatre was located at 1971 Queen St. E. and operated from 1919 to 1970. The site is now the location of the Beach Mall.

An ad from the May 1924 edition of the Smiles newspaper for movies at the Beach Theatre on Queen Street East. Note that an actor named Harrison Ford was in the Bright Lights of Broadway.

An ad for the Riverdale Garage at 755 Danforth Ave. reminded readers that “A Ford car is the best spring tonic.” Though not listing a price for the vehicles it was selling, the Riverdale Garage ad went on to say: “Spring is here – Buy a Ford. Get out into the country every minute you can spare. You will tackle your business with greater zest – your wife will forget the monotony of house work – your kiddies will lose their city pallor and have the time of their lives.”

Daly said that while no current members of the Beach United Church congregation had a direct link to the Kew Beach Presbyterian Church Extension Sunday School, a copy of the speech from its opening ceremony on Courcelette Road was included in the time capsule and explained some of the reasons why it was built.

The main reason was the growing number of congregation members as the population of the Beach and southwest Scarborough increased, and the fact that Sunday School at Kew Beach Presbyterian Church was full to bursting with children. At first the Extension Sunday School was housed at a home Blantyre Avenue to deal with the large number of children but it was felt a location further east was needed and that’s why it was eventually built on Courcelette Road.

For a while Sunday School classes took place in Courcelette Public School, but it was felt by the church congregation that a dedicated space was needed.

“The attendance kept increasing steadily until it became quite apparent that a Sunday School building would be needed before long,” said the speech in the time capsule.
“So a Women’s Association was formed to raise money for a building fund. Kew Beach Church also lent money to help pay for a new building. A lot was purchased on Courcelette Road, and on May 3, 1924 the cornerstone of the new brick Sunday School was well and truly laid by Rev. J.A. Cranston.”

The staff of the Extension Sunday School in May of 1924 were listed as Supt. L.J. Potts; Secretary T.M. Hamilton; Treasurer James Hamilton; Teachers Geo. Edmonds, Mrs. Hampton, Mrs. Iland; Mrs. Napier, Mrs. Hamilton; Mrs. Edmonds; Mrs Meikle; Stanley White; Miss Lennox; Mrs. Beverly; Mrs. W. Riddell. The Sunday School’s music committee was made up of Mrs. Hampton, Mrs. Fortier; and Miss McPhail.

The builder and architect of the Extension Sunday School on Courcelette Road in 1924 was Duncan and Napier, Carpenters, Builders and General Contractors located at 44 Chester Ave.

The business card for Duncan & Napier was in the time capsule from the Extension Sunday School on Courcelette Road.

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