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Throwback Thursdays: Nov. 18, 1978

Politics remained at the top of the news for the Nov. 18 issue of Seven News. The Toronto municipal election had occurred Nov. 13, and Ward Seven native son, reformer, and erstwhile Alderman for nine years John Sewell had defeated his conservative opponent Tony O’Donohue.

In those days, municipal government was more elaborately structured, with Metro Council holding considerable power, while City Council also had a more powerful Executive Committee. Outcomes, then as now, were complicated by a lack of standing alignments (ok, “parties”. It was clear that Sewell would not have majority support for his reformist platform, but what is especially interesting for us today is that – in Seven News’s estimation and in the smaller footprint of the old city – the balance of power stood roughly where it is estimated to stand in the newly elected City Council taking office in December: 10 progressives, three centrists (five today) and 10 conservatives, though Seven thought that three of these (Art Eggleton, Tony Ruprecht and Andrew Patton) might veer to the centre on some issues.

Seven News felt that Sewell was likely to face great challenges as mayor, and indeed it turned out to be so. He was portrayed in the major media as “radical” – he rode a bike to work and wore jeans, my God! – and at the end of his two-year term was defeated in a heartbreaker (87,919 to 86,152) by centre-right Art Eggleton, who went on to serve a remarkable 11 years (1980-1991) as mayor. Sewell has remained an outstanding public figure in Toronto life.

On the local scene, Gord Cressy (father of sitting Councillor Joe Cressy) topped the Ward Seven polls, to the mortification of incumbent Janet Howard, who had hoped to place first. (In those days, two aldermen per ward were elected, but the winner got a spot on Metro Council.) The feeling was that she had made a mistake in not running a joint campaign with Cressy, and had been out-resourced by the NDP’s support of Cressy’s campaign.

A look at the three winners’ platforms is interesting; the issues (e.g.”neighbourhoods first”, “affordable housing”) remain similar, though community safety seems not to have been the ballot issue in 1978 that it was in 2018. The mix of who is supporting what back then is intriguing.

There was an interesting ad for a new publication aimed at the city’s communities of colour, The Black Pages.

Duke of York School was enmeshed in controversy. This is not the Regent Park/Duke of York school building on 20 Regent St. which was finally closed in 2012 and demolished in 2016, but its predecessor on Pembroke Street (like warships, school names seem to have recurring incarnations down the decades) which is now known as Gabrielle Roy French School. At the time, Gabrielle Roy was sharing accommodation at Duke of York, and both parties, as Seven News reported, were manifestly unhappy at the arrangement.

(Richard Haskell’s blog on downtown living has a fascinating review of the Pembroke St. building, which in his 2012 entry he still calls Duke of York).

And Park School on Shuter Street, not yet renamed (until 2001) Nelson Mandela Park School, was celebrating its 125th anniversary; the piece is accompanied by a delightful drawing of the original 1853 school building (replaced 1914-1916 by the present school building which, in its turn, was massively renovated in 2013).

The full stories introduced above are available at . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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Throwback Thursday: November 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse goes back to November 1978 courtesy of community paper Seven News.

The November 4, 1978 issue of Seven News hit the street in between the federal by-elections that saw David Crombie and Bob Rae elected to Parliament for the first time, and the November 13, 1978 civic elections (no spoilers but here’s the ad for one mayoral candidate, the former Alderman for Ward Seven).

There was a full-page centrespread on local candidates, For Mayor, John Sewell and the much-reviled (see below) Tony O’Donohue, who seems to have been a somewhat earlier example of Stop The Gravy Train politics and David Smith, a reputed right-winger who nonetheless was running on a platform of safe neighbourhoods and affordable housing (Sewell’s base as well). For Alderman, Janet Howard (an incumbent), novice Gordon Cressey, George Patton, Steve Necheff, and Charlie Rolfe (‘always runs, always gets clobbered’). All male candidates sported considerably shaggier heads than their successors this year, but fewer beards.

In the meantime there was plenty of local news. The headliner was the latest threat to the residents of the Toronto Islands.

Those of us with long memories and/or Wikipedia access will recall that private homes on the Islands were the bone of a 40-year-long battle with Metro Toronto that had its beginnings in 1956, when the newly created Metro Parks Department decided that ‘The construction of the Gardiner Expressway had removed many acres of recreational land along the Toronto waterfront, and the Islands lands were to replace the acreage.” (So there.) A battle began that saw the number of homes on the Islands reduced from 630 (with commercial amenities) to about 250 (without commercial amenities and mainly concentrated on Ward’s and Algonquin Islands). As Elaine Farragher reports:

“The Island residents have been fighting this battle for ten long years, when they grew tired of witnessing hundreds of their neighbours being evicted and their communities razed to the ground. Since then, at tremendous financial cost to the 254 households on the Island, they have lost every court attempt to keep from being evicted in favour of new parkland.”

The nub of the matter was that Metro (as landowner) proposed to evict the residents (as homeowners) without compensation, and the battle – which ran for another 15 years – came to be viewed (in these parts at least) as a war between an old-fashioned, ham-fisted, pigheaded planning bureaucracy and a bunch of spoiled people who led privileged pseudo-bucolic existences on ground that was far too good for them (after all, if they had the money to pay for litigation, they could, presumably, afford to pack up and leave, surely, in the name of the Greater Good.)

Since the lineup of support for the Islanders was deeply concentrated in Downtown Toronto, and most support for demolition was from suburban Metro councillors, the dispute appears to presage the 905/416 split that has existed since amalgamation and has taken on new life since the War on the Car was unofficially declared in 2010. As the paper went to press, the Islanders (who after all had the strategic advantage of living on an island) were preparing to resist harbour-borne invasion by all available (preferably) non-violent means, and tactical exercises were being conducted at potential beachheads.

An op-ed from Ulli Diemer sums it up: ‘The 650 Island residents don’t want to leave, the local ward alderman doesn’t want them to leave, their MPP doesn’t want them to leave, their MP doesn’t want them to leave, Toronto City Council doesn’t want them to leave, and the people of Toronto don’t want them to leave.” Diemer advises Torontonians not to vote for Tony O’Donohue, the only Mayoral candidate who wants the residents out (spoiler: they didn’t).

The Board of Education was locked in battle with local Regent Park parents over its decision to close Duke of York School.

And Canadian boxer John Raftery makes his first international appearance (at least in the pages of Seven News) representing CYC in Europe (he didn’t win, but it was East Germany), while Pat Fennel had better luck in Tampere, winning a gold in a 13-nation tournament.

Finally, the Page One shot: a lovely photo of the polychromatic brickwork spire of All Saints Church at Sherbourne and Dundas, then not as desolate a corner as it has become in the 40 years since. Among other things, as the caption notes, All Saints was the new headquarters of Seven News, which led something of a wandering existence in the fifteen years of its publishing life. The shot is the lead-in to George Rust D’Eye’s current piece on landmarks of Ward 7.

Here are his remarks on Sherbourne Street – we invite readers to compare his account of 40 years ago with the current streetscape, which in the Dundas – Sherbourne block has not changed a great deal. Two of the houses he draws attention to are from the mid-1850s, the third from 1881. It was a grand avenue, now sadly gone to seed.

The full stories introduced above are available at . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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Halloween safety tips for revelers of all ages

Des Ryan, a retired police officer, is the volunteer safety and security lead and board director for the Cabbagetown Residents Association.

By the time you read this, you have probably been inundated with Halloween safety tips for the little ones.

You can probably recite them off by heart by now:

– Wear a highly visible costume
– Use make-up instead of wearing a mask
– Be really careful crossing roads
– Travel in groups with at least one adult (maybe you, maybe someone else’s parent)
– Wait until a responsible adult checks the candy before devouring it
– Don’t go into anyone’s house or car

And so it goes. We know all of this.

But what about you? What if you’re the one who is going to be hosting or going to a party?

Here are some quick tips that might come in handy.

If you are hosting, consider host liability. While I am sure there are enough lawyers among you who know what this means, let’s be really clear: if a guest drinks (or smokes—welcome to the new world of legalized cannabis use) to excess and that guest is involved in a car crash or stumbles and injures themselves on their way home or is involved in any nasty situation that can be directly linked to their excessive consumption of alcohol or cannabis while at your party, you may be civilly liable.

If you are going to a party, don’t drive. Seriously. Chances are you’re going somewhere local and can walk home. Or take public transit or a taxi or Uber. Even if you are a responsible drinker, consider that the roads are filled with people who are not. Do you need the hassle?

But, if you do have to drive, be ultra-vigilant, particularly during the early evening on Halloween. Expect little ones to come popping out from between parked cars. Anticipate sudden stops and drive accordingly. Consider, after you see a group cross right in front of you, that there might be one or two more who will come darting across to join their friends.  

If you’re going to a party that has a lot of people you don’t know, consider that not everyone is like you. If you’re going with friends, check in on each other now and again. Don’t put your drink down. Seriously. And remember that wearing a costume doesn’t give you a licence to be a jerk. People really don’t like uninvited touching and it could lead to criminal charges, even if you are dressed as Eros.

Finally, consider your sugar intake. Pound back a few drinks and a half-dozen or so chocolatey-ooey-good candy bars and you’re likely looking at a nasty hangover in the morning. Just putting it out there.

After all of that, have a good night, and don’t forget to bring your pumpkin to Riverdale Park West on Thursday, November 1 for the Cabbagetown Pumpkin Walk. All the rules above still apply!

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Cabbagetown according to … Sherry Peters

Sherry Peters lives on Alpha Avenue and in 2018 organized Cabbagetowner’s efforts for the annual Clean Toronto Together day.

Best place to eat:  F’Amelia Restaurant.

Cabbagetown needs:  a livelier retail strip on Parliament Street.

Favourite block: Alpha Avenue where I live.  It’s only one block long, tucked just below St. James Cemetery. It is so quiet and private even though it’s in the heart of the city.

Best public space:  Riverdale Park West and its access to the Don Valley path.

Favourite store:  Kendall & Co.

Cabbagetown pet peeve: the amount of garbage left on the streets on recycling pick-up day.  It seems to be a result of some of the garbage falling out of over-filled bins and some of it escaping as the garbage men empty the bins into the trucks.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret: Wellesley Community Centre at 495 Sherbourne Street.  I’ve recently discovered its free drop-in badminton program for seniors (60+) on Thursdays at 1 p.m.   would highly recommend checking out the Centre for all the programs and facilities available there.

Best reason to join CRA: for easy access to good information about our amazing area.


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Flashback Friday: politics, raccoons and development threats, circa 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse peruses the first half of October, 1978, through the archives of 7 News, a community paper in the Cabbagetown area in the 1970s and early 1980s.

In October 1978, the voters of Ward 7 faced two elections; the municipal election, with John Sewell running for mayor. But first came the federal by-election in Rosedale riding, with Toronto’s former Tiny Perfect Mayor David Crombie as the PC standard-bearer against Liberal establishment candidate John Evans, who – as recounted a couple of columns ago – had emerged victorious from an epic nomination battle against Anne Cools. Crombie took out a tiny perfect ad in 7 News, as did NDP challenger Ron Thomson. Evans, who expected to win, didn’t.

The issue carried a centrespread discussing the federal races in both Rosedale (Crombie, Evans, Thomson) and Broadview (Bob Rae NDP, Philip Varelis LIB, Tom Clifford PC). There was an all-candidates’ debate at Dixon Hall, the high point of which (according to 7 News) was Crombie forgetting the name of his own leader (it was Joe Clark).

Not everyone thought Crombie was both tiny and perfect. The issue carried a lengthy Open Letter (advertisement, political, paid) from Helen Valli, apparently on behalf of the residents of Winchester Square (Bleecker/Wellesley/Ontario/Carlton), denouncing him for betraying them to Meridian Corp, the developers of St James Town and the by-then-approved St James Town South:

The editors filched one of the better known strips from The Wizard of Id by way of counterpoint:


Politics aside, plenty was happening in the neighbourhood. Consultations were under way for the use of expropriated city land between Oak and Cornwall streets. The land had originally been expropriated by the Toronto Board of Education, but the plan for school construction was dropped. As of October 1978, the community-based Oak Street Committee set up in 1977 was recommending a mixed retail and affordable housing development, with the following guidelines:

These, apparently, were the seeds of the Oak Street Co-op, which opened in 1985.

Local historian George Rust d’Eye had a piece called “Walking to Work in Historic 7”, with lists of landmarks along various routes. Challenge: pick a route and follow it, comparing George’s account of 40 years ago and see what’s changed. Here’s one from the piece:

The accompanying photo furnished an example of developer blockbusting on Rose Avenue.

Cabbagetown Boxing and Youth Centre was having another fine season.

And, finally, a charming photo of Reefer the Raccoon by Cherry Hassard.

 The full stories introduced above are available at . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.


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Ward 13 All Candidates Meetings for Oct. 22 municipal election

The community in Corktown got off to an early start with an Oct. 2 all-candidates’ meeting at the Cherry Street YMCA for the 19 individuals running to be the new councillor for Ward 13, which follows the boundaries of the provincial Toronto Centre riding – a change imposed by the provincial government, which cut the number of city wards in Toronto from 47 to 25 the day before nominations closed in the summer.

We’ve received notice of two more Ward 13 candidates’ meetings – if you know of another one, please append it in the comments section to this post!

Date: Thursday, October 11, 2018 
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. Screening of Politalks videos and meet-and-greet
6:30 pm. to 8:30 p.m.: Panel and questions
Location: 246 Sackville Street, Regent Park
Hosted By: Community Civic Engagement Collaborative (CCEC)

Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018 
Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: 349 Ontario Street, Central Neighbourhood House (CNH)
Hosted By: Cabbagetown South Residents Association and CNH
More Info:

Registered candidates for city councillor have been invited to come share their vision with Cabbagetown South residents for our New Ward 13. Each candidate will have a maximum 5 minutes to introduce themselves and their platform. The balance of the meeting will be questions and answers from the residents for the candidates.


On September 19, 2018, the Court of Appeal for Ontario stayed the Superior Court of Justice decision of September 10, 2018, which had quashed the provincial ward-boundary change legislation, and reinstated Bill 5 – Better Local Government Act, 2018 requiring the October 22, 2018 election to proceed on the basis of 25 wards.

As a result of the Court of Appeal’s decision and in order to conduct a municipal election in October 2018, the nomination period reopened for the offices of councillor and school board trustee on Thursday, September 20 and Friday, September 21. Nominations are now closed. You can view the final list of candidates though MyVote or the List of Candidates / Third Parties  web applications.

Cabbagetown, which used to be in Ward 28, would have been Ward 23 under the new 47-ward system and now is part of a massive downtown Ward 13. (Under the old system, Ward 13 was Parkdale-High Park area.)

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Throwback Thursday: A busy September 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse summarizes the (very newsy) September of 1978 in Cabbagetown from Seven News, a community newspaper published in what was then Ward 7, Toronto.

As noted in our last Throwback Thursday, the brand-new Riverdale Farm opened on Sept. 9, the very day that Seven News appeared. In the Sept 23 issue, Cabbagetowner and photographer George Rust d’Eye adds a few photos from the great day.

The Great TTC Strike of 1978 had time to come and go between issues of Seven News (it lasted eight days before the employees were legislated back to work). Howard Huggett weighs in with a slightly novel take on labour relations in public transit, arguing from the starting point that, after all, labour unions are players in the capitalist system, and, like private and public corporations, are selling a product (labour) in a market economy. But…

Not the first or last time the argument has been made. The 1978 strike was a flash in the pan compared to the 23-day monster of four years before, when TTC workers demanded a 40 per cent increase over their minimum wage of $5 an hour (that’s $26 in 2016 dollars).

Election season was upon us, then as now, and Ald. Janet Howard’s final column from City Hall contains this tidbit, reminding us of how local all politics really can be. Recalling that Howard’s Ward 7 colleague John Sewell (or at least his pooches) was the focus of a recurring theme in Seven News (dog-do), one wonders whether Howard might not have gotten more than her fair share of animal complaints.

In this issue, the election ads began running. The municipal election was November 13. Howard herself was running again. (Her erstwhile colleague John Sewell was running for mayor.)

Barry Tulip was running for Toronto board of education.

And in the federal by-election over across the river in Broadview, Bob Rae enters the lists.

Still on a political theme, one of the Communist Parties of Canada (there were always several) was trying to fundraise.

Of interest to us over west of Parliament in Upper Lower Middle Cabbagetown, aka Cabbagetown South North, they were changing the direction of the one-ways on Seaton, Ontario and Berkeley. “The idea seems to be to prevent through traffic from going through the neighbourhood.” That may or may not have been code for “John deflector”; at least that was certainly the avowed purpose for the next redirection around 10 years later, when the three streets became one-way-north between Gerrard and Carlton.

Regular photographer Cherry Hassard contributes a photo from the Cabbagetown Cultural Festival, which was a great deal more earnestly cultural than its lineal descendant.

And finally on a note of pop culture, look at these prices! Look at these covers! Remember VINYL, now said to be making a comeback? Woolworth/Woolco was having a grand opening at 772 Queen W. with these lovelies and many more for a mere $3.99. Not to mention that Seven News scored a two-page ad spread, a rare bounty.

The full stories introduced above are available at . The PDF archive is a remarkable achievement by Connexions, a collective dedicated to preserving social activism, of which 7 News is surely a shining example.

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Security alert: Toronto police change policy on alarm response

By Des Ryan, a retired police officer, who is the volunteer safety and security lead on the CRA’s board of directors.

How many times have you accidentally tripped your house alarm? Too often to remember?

More often than not, false alarms are the result of user error. This results in having to dispatch two (yes, two!) officers to an address only to discover that all appears to be in order (as we like to say in policing circles!) each and every time.

This is an extremely costly process and consumes an enormous amount of deployable police hours: Toronto Police report that, in 2016, more than 97 per cent of alarm calls turned out to be false.

As a result, as of September 10th, the Toronto Police Service has implemented a new policy. Going forward, Police will be responding to alarm calls under the following conditions:
– the Monitoring Station is registered with the TPS, complied with call-processing requirements and is not under any TPS suspensions; and,
– the Monitoring Station must also comply with the verified response requirement as applied to burglar alarm system signals.

Since these conditions have to do with your alarm company, be sure to contact them asap to ensure that they are doing their part.

Other criteria that determine whether your alarm will be responded to include what is called “acceptable verified response criteria.”. These include:

– Audio devices (i.e., alarm systems that transfer real-time audio to an actual person listening in on the alarm);
– Video device (same as above, only real-time video transfer);
– An eyewitness (i.e. private security or person at scene); or
– Multiple zone activations (i.e., an alarm system that separates and reports incidents or alarm signals by areas that are monitored by the Monitoring Station. Zone 1 – Front Door, Zone 2 –Front Entry Motion, Zone 3 –Kitchen Motion, etc.).

What this means is that, rather than chasing after alarms like a dog after a ball in the park, TPS will only be responding to alarms that are legitimately verifiable. Having so said, there is nothing saying that the aforementioned ball-chasing dog could not be frolicking in your home, setting off multiple zone alarms in your house.

Note to self: do not set zone alarm unless dog is out of house.

Then, be sure to do your part in reducing false alarms (and getting yourself suspended from police response!). This includes changing the batteries of your alarm. Frequently. Make sure the sensors are clear of cobwebs and other debris that can send a false reading. Make sure your keyholder information is up-dot-date and be sure to schedule regular maintenance on the alarm. Finally, make sure your family and anyone else who uses the system knows how it works.

If you have any further concerns, or you just really like to read policy, check this out.

As an aside, this does not affect police response to Panic Alarm.

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Petitions for Spruce Street and Broadway Lane improvements

Our colleagues at the Cabbagetown Business Improvement Area are spearheading two petitions: one for parking and safety improvements on Spruce Street as well as some traffic calming/deterring on Broadcast Lane. They’ve asked us to reach out to residents in the area: all are encouraged to email the BIA a scan of the completed forms — send to — or drop off a printed and signed form in the BIA office mailbox at 237 Carlton St.

Download and sign the Spruce Street petition

Download and sign the Broadway Lane petition

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Cabbagetowner according to … Jim Clark

 Jim Clark has been a resident of Cabbagetown for two years along with his wife Jenny and son Sebastian. He lives on Wellesley Street and was recently was elected to the CRA Board of Directors.

Best Place For A Bite to Eat:
Park Snacks. While not haute cuisine, Park Snacks has the best location and a patio to rival F’Amelia. I look forward to their first day open each season as a sure sign that another magical summer in Cabbagetown is near at hand. The operator is a remarkably kind, accommodating, and is reason alone for my nomination. 

Favourite Block:
Carlton to Winchester and Sumach to Sackville. Riverdale Farm and Park. Tree-lined lanes and beautiful homes and gardens. No matter my destination or mood, a walk in this block inspires some sort of positivity or appreciation. Also, Park Snacks may be here, as well!

Best Public Space:
Wellesley Park. I discovered this park a number of years ago while walking my dogs. We returned almost every night as it is such a beautiful space.  On one of these walks, I (and independently my wife a couple of days later) noticed a “For Sale” sign and now live close enough to consider the park a proxy backyard. 

Favourite Store:
Tie. Steak and Chops and Labour of Love. Both have great staff that welcome and guide towards the ideal dish or gift no matter how vague or contradictory my “input”. Both carry a broad yet well-curated selection of goods and are local institutions for good reason. 

Cabbagetown Pet Peeve:
Limited, really. If anything, I feel it is the lack of genuine discussion around areas of contention. Instead, groups or individuals (sometimes very limited in the scope of their position) attempt, and all too often succeed, in forcing their singular agenda. I realize that is the tone of the age we live in, but feel we, and I, can do better. 

Best Kept Secret:
You will never have enough Hallowe’en candy to meet demand. 

Best Reason to Join the CRA:
To be an active member of the community and to help add to the work of so many who have made our neighbourhood the amazing place it is. Also a great way to meet your neighbours, immediate and extended. Finally a great forum to share my views and appreciate the perspective of others.

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