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

Throwback Thursday

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 http://www.connexions.org/SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume09-Number11.pdf . 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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