Forsythia Festival About the DVCRA DVCRA Membership
Join Us Today - Household Memberships For $20 Per Year
Areas of Focus

Community News & Events

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

Posted in Uncategorized
Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Cabbagetown According To...
Leave a comment

Throwback Thursday: The opening of Riverdale Farm, and other news from September 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse continues his look back at Cabbagetown through the lens of Seven News, a community paper covering the then-Ward 7, including Cabbagetown.

Riverdale Farm was about to open its gates for the first time on Sept. 9, 1978, and great was the anticipation. The old Riverdale Zoo had closed in June 1974 but the Donvale Association of Homeowners and Residents (the CRA’s forerunner) had formed a Riverdale Farm Committee back in 1972 and, after several iterations and changes of membership, the Committee was able to implement a plan to convert the old zoo to a working farm.

One barn (the Francey Barn) was brought in from the countryside (Markham) and carefully rebuilt on new foundations.The other was designed and built from scratch, as was the Simpson House, designed on the model of a 19th-century farm home. As Ald. Janet Howard notes in the article below, it was named for local architect and conservationist B. Napier Simpson, who was among the members of the Canadian Historic Sites Commission killed in a Newfoundland plane crash in June 1978. Howard notes that the house will contain, among other things, a snack bar “serving no junk food”.

The opening managed to coincide with Seven News’s Sept. 9 publication date but, in the Sept 23rd edition, George Rust d’Eye fills us in on the great day. Everybody who was anybody in Toronto was there with the exception of John Sewell, who was out of town. As the municipal election was imminent, candidates abounded. Rust d’Eye notes regarding the Simpson House that it was “a handsome and appropriate addition to the Don Vale neighbourhood”.

Speaking of Don Vale, many current residents of Cabbagetown might not really be aware that what we call Cabbagetown (the area bounded by the Necropolis, the Don, Gerrard Street East, and Parliament) is not the original Cabbagetown. That was south of Gerrard, and local author Hugh Garner’s famous Depression-era novel Cabbagetown really referred to the areas south of Gerrard that were razed in the ’50s to become Regent Park, and farther south to what is now Corktown. The old Don Vale neighbourhood only gradually acquired the new name as it gentrified. (author’s aside – I’d have thought that “Don Vale” sounded much more stylish than “Cabbagetown” but who knows what lurks in the minds of real estate agents? Incidentally, the shifting of place names in any locale is a common phenomenon; for example, of all the ancient bridges of the City of Rome, none still bears its original Roman name. The ancient names themselves are still in use, but for different bridges!) In any case, the cultural appropriation of “Cabbagetown” was well under way by 1978, and aroused some ire, as the following letter to the editor bears witness:

“I find it nauseating to have to witness all this ‘Old Cabbagetown’ ballyhoo,” writes Peter Parker of Ontario Street. “These people who are now calling themselves ‘Cabbagetowners’ would never have set foot in Cabbagetown.”

Still on neighbourhoods and their fates, but moving a couple of blocks westward, the area now known as Winchester Park but then occasionally referred to as South St. James Town was seemingly dealt its deathblow as, in the final stage of an approvals process, Cabinet approved the development of Winchester Square by Meridian Corporation, the developers of St James Town.

The article mourned the defeat of residents’ resistance. The odd thing is that the development appears to have gotten into the ground, but never got out of the ground. The foundations were dug, but the hoardings remained up for some thirty years until a much more-modest structure was finally built on the site around in the late 2000s.

And the 519 Community Centre held a community festival.

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.

Posted in Throwback Thursday
Leave a comment

Throwback Thursday: Anne Cools’ political entrance

Volunteer Eric Morse looks back at 1978 and the launch of the political career of Anne Cools.

A postscript accidentally omitted from our last Throwback Thursday noted that Senator Anne Cools had retired from the Senate of Canada at the mandatory age of 75. Appointed by Pierre Trudeau in 1984, Anne Clare Cools was the first female black Senator in North America, and on her retirement was the last serving senator appointed by Trudeau the Elder. In 1978-80 she became an exciting and polarizing figure in what had been the vary staid and Establishment Liberal politics of Toronto Centre/Ward 7.

Darrell Dick /Toronto Star

Born in Barbados in 1943, she immigrated to Canada with her family in 1957. As a student at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) in 1969, she was a participant in the famous (or notorious) sit-in that culminated in the destruction of SGWU’s computer room, for which she received a four-month jail sentence. In 1964, she moved to Toronto where she founded and ran one of the first shelters for abused women in Canada, Women in Transition Inc.

But it was her bid for the Liberal nomination for Rosedale in the October 16, 1978 by-election in Toronto Centre that gained her real local media prominence. The reform movement had been going locally in Toronto politics since 1966, and by 1978 it was peaking (Ward 7’s John Sewell was elected Mayor just after the by-election, in November 1978). Federally, things were more placid, until Cools came along.

Pierre Trudeau was entering the fourth year of his 1974 mandate looking decidedly threadbare (the by-election series of 1978 was a disaster for the Liberals, presaging defeat in May 1979). Rosedale riding had been held non-stop by the Liberals since Donald “Thumper” MacDonald first won it under Lester Pearson in 1962. It was, if anything, a bastion of small-c conservatism, and MacDonald’s resignation in March 1978 (he could see the writing on the wall) was not expected to change things. Seven News noted that U of T President John Evans had been nominated by the party establishment to assume MacDonald’s mantle. Seven News also noted that Anne Cools had been nominated but that Evans was expected to win easily. It was not so easy and turned into a two-candidate free-for all that became the largest contested nomination meeting ever held in Canada.

The National Film Board made a half-hour film — The Right Candidate for Rosedale — about the ensuing nomination battle. Since it was filmed from Cools’ perspective it is not balanced coverage but it casts the contest into sharp relief. Evans was the salon candidate (so depicted) and Cools the upstart. In most ways the battle defined the split between the top (above Bloor) and bottom (below Bloor) halves of the old Toronto Centre riding.

John Evans, party establishment nominee

It also mirrored the social split. By 1978 the area south of Bloor was already well launched on the road to being the most diverse district in Canada, both ethnically and economically; the film describes it as the south end of the riding as containing “The fragments discarded from the [urban] mosaic”.

The Liberals had never troubled to get out the vote in large numbers before 1978, so most of the south end was an untapped resource. Cools set out to recruit those who had never voted and sign them up for the Liberal nomination. The party elders dismissed her as “not the right candidate for Rosedale,”  but that was a bad miscalculation.

Cools went where Liberals had never gone before. She went into Regent Park. She went into St James Town. She signed up women – not exclusively, but especially – who had never voted before in their lives. There were massive phone campaigns, using only the human voice and the archaic touch-tone phone, with lists compiled in handwriting (the Evans campaign, forced to deploy unanticipated resources, fielded the modern Selectric).

Anne Cools with new women voters.

As June Callwood said, “It’s a very big wrench that she’s throwing in that machine. What she represents to me is the attempt of people who live in a riding to get their own candidate – to choose the candidate in the way we fantasize democracy should be … The way democracy does work now is the people in the backrooms shoose who is the easiest candidate to get along with.”

On the Evans’ side of the fence, spokespeople emphasized that Rosedale had had a cabinet minister almost throughout living memory, and that Evans, if elected, was certainly Prime Ministerial material. The media grabbed hold of it and it went national.

Some of the coverage wasn’t pretty.

“On a rainy nomination night” in April, the Cools campaign began busing supporters in to the Sheraton Centre hotel, which the film suggests was chosen for its intimidation factor but may simply have been the only place that could hold the crowds besides Maple Leaf Gardens.

There were 45 members of the Rosedale Liberal Association at the end of 1977. By April – more than 5,000. (The inaccuracy may not be accidental, since as an Informed Contemporary Source tells us, “in those days you could get away with just about anything.”) In any case, they packed the Sheraton ballroom.

In the presence of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Cools lost to Evans by an undisclosed margin. On October 16, Evans lost to PC David Crombie by nearly 2-1.

Cools won the Liberal nomination in 1979 and 1980, but lost both times to Crombie. In 1984, she was appointed to the Red Chamber by Trudeau. Her years in the Senate were largely quiet, but she continued her advocacy for women and was instrumental in the creation of the Special Senate-House of Commons Joint Committee on child custody and access after divorce. The Joint Committee’s 1998 report For the Sake of the Children recommended shared parenting. In 2004, the CBC chose her as one of the top 20 Canadian Women of all time.

But the greatest day of her career remains that wet April night in 1978, when she made the Liberal Party shudder.

Posted in Throwback Thursday
Leave a comment

Safety and security tips for back to school

Des Ryan is a CRA volunteer board director and retired police officer who leads our safety and security work.

It is the end of August. Already! Summer holidays are nearly over, and the roads will be packed again as people return to work and the kids return to school.

If you are a driver, you are likely already aware of the usual pre-school drill: watch for children, be mindful of school buses loading and unloading, keep your speeds down in school zones (Always, you say!).

A couple other things I’d like to highlight:
– Never pass other vehicles, change lanes, or make U-turns while driving in a school zone.
– Unless licensed to do so, never use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes or spaces to drop off or pick up children at school.

So how about the kids? Regardless of how old they are, going back to school can still cause a bit of anxiety. Even getting to school can be a big deal. As you know, the best way to keep your little one (more or less) calm is for you to be (more or less) calm, which means anticipating some of the obstacles they may encounter.

If you’re walking your child to school, leave enough time to arrive at school at least 10 minutes prior to start time. Expect delays (Squirrel!). No point being in a panic before the day even begins. And take the same route there and back every day. It’s easy for little ones to get confused and turned around (did I say Squirrel already?), and they need to know how to get home alone, even if you anticipate always dropping off/picking up.

Of course, you’ll be walking on sidewalks, using designated crosswalks and/or traffic-controlled intersections and street corners as part of your route. And nobody’s running across the street. Oh, and remind your charge not to pop onto the street between parked cars — nobody needs that.

If your child is now too old to be seen in public with you, encourage them to walk to school with their friends. Safety in numbers. Remind them not to talk to strangers or get into a vehicle with anyone, even if they know them (you don’t want to know those stats about offenders known to the victims, I’m sure), unless you have already agreed that this person is okay.

Pre-emptively give your child the language and a few moves that will help them if a stranger approaches them, regardless of their age. And make sure you child knows that they need to tell someone in authority (i.e. you, a teacher, or a caregiver) about the incident as soon as possible.

If your little one is going to ride a bike to school, do a couple of practice runs before school starts. Make sure they know how to get there (and back) safely, even if you intend on going with them every day. Of course, they will have a helmet that fits that they will wear the entire time that they are riding their bike (see previous post for helmet safety and Highway Traffic Act fines!). As well as being the law, stats suggest that, in the event of an accident (which could be as minor as falling over at the stop sign) wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as 85 per cent. Good enough for me!

Also, if your child is big enough to ride on the road, make sure they know the rules, stay on the right-hand side, and uses the appropriate hand signals (signals, not gestures). If your child is old enough to ride to school on their own, suggest that they ride with a buddy. It’s easier to see two or three bikes than one.

And now that we are on the road, what about those backpacks? I’ve seen ones that look like they weigh more than the kid! To prevent injury, backpacks should have wide straps, padding in the back and shoulders, and should not weigh more than 10 to 15 per cent of a child’s body weight. And, while it may seem obvious, place the heavier items in the backpack first. The closer the heavier stuff is to the child’s back, the less strain it will cause. And try to have your child use both backpack straps and distribute their stuff as evenly as they can. I know….

Last little reminder: Depending on your child’s age, get rid of the drawstrings on their jackets and hoodies. They don’t serve any real purpose and they can cause some problems.

And now that the kids are back in school, we can all have a moment to ourselves for a coffee, beginning to end!

Posted in Crime Prevention
Leave a comment

Cabbagetown according to … Kate Steinmann

Kate was elected to the board of directors for the CRA in June 2018.

Best place in Cabbagetown for a bite to eat: It’s a toss-up among Kanpai Snack Bar, Sukho Thai, House on Parliament, and Salt and Tobacco—there are just too many great places to choose from! I also love Jet Fuel for the coffee and the great neighbourhood vibe. 

Cabbagetown needs: A branch of Tabule, an amazing Toronto Middle Eastern restaurant.

Favourite block: The Wellesley Cottages, a tidy row of Victorian workers’ cottages tucked away north of Wellesley St. E.

Best public space: The Necropolis, a very old Toronto cemetery with picturesque topography featuring winding paths and a wonderful array of flora, fauna, and stones (and, at the gate, beautiful Victorian Gothic buildings).

Favourite store: Epicure

Cabbagetown pet peeve: The Parliament bus is ridiculously undependable — often there’s no bus for 20 to 30 minutes at a time during evening rush hour, even in light traffic.

Cabbagetown’s best kept secret: The Children’s Book Bank, hands down—not to be missed if you have young children!

Best reason to join the Cabbagetown Residents Association (CRA): Stay up to date on what’s happening, get to know your neighbours, support local initiatives, and make your voice heard!

Posted in Cabbagetown According To...
Leave a comment

Toronto City Council Highlights: July 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 30

Council Highlights is an informal summary of some of the decisions Toronto City Council made at its recent business meetings. The City Clerk’s formal documentation is available at

Response to proposed reduction of Council’s size   
Council voted to convey its opposition to the Ontario government’s stated intention to legislate a reduction in the size of Toronto City Council and supported various motions, including to ask the province to conduct a binding referendum on the number and boundaries of Toronto’s wards before proceeding with any such legislation. It was decided that if the provincial government does not conduct the referendum, Council will seek permission for the City to include a question about wards and councillors on Toronto’s 2018 election ballot. The City Solicitor was asked to prepare an options report and be ready provide advice to Council at a special meeting to be held August 20.

Actions addressing gun violence   
Council adopted a report with recommendations to address Toronto’s problem with gun violence, specifying actions by the City and requesting other orders of government to help address the problem of gun violence in Toronto. The report’s recommendations include expanding current City and Toronto Police Service initiatives for youth and undertaking other initiatives such as policing technology known as ShotSpotter. Increased funding for several specified programs received Council’s authorization.

Seizure of illegal guns   
A motion that Council adopted will result in a request for the Toronto Police Services Board, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Province of Ontario each to adopt and implement a seize-and-destroy procedure for disposing of illegal guns and ammunition seized and confiscated by law-enforcement agencies.

Safety inspections – City buildings   
Council approved a series of recommendations to ensure that City buildings are in compliance with fire code regulations and to ensure that inspections are carried out by qualified, reputable contractors. The action follows an investigation by the City’s Auditor General.

Construction of affordable housing     
Council approved City funding and financial incentives for 893 affordable rental homes across the city to support the provision of affordable housing through the Open Door Program. An additional 422 mid-range rental homes were approved through the provincial Development Charges Rebate Program. Council also agreed to review the definition of “affordability” under the Official Plan.

Construction staging   
Council adopted a motion calling for the City to consult with the development industry on eliminating its practice of occupying the public right-of-way for construction purposes. In addition, staff were asked to report on possibly requiring developers to provide construction plans with their rezoning applications to demonstrate they can build what they are proposing without negatively affecting the community. Use of traffic lanes to stage construction causes traffic bottlenecks and can create unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Disturbing images in public places   
Council agreed to ask staff to review and enforce current City bylaws designed to protect members of the public from harm, including provisions for keeping streets and sidewalks unobstructed. The motion that Council adopted came in response to public complaints about a group displaying large posters with “extremely graphic, disturbing” images that children and other captive audiences are confronted with when using the sidewalks where the posters are displayed.

Dust from residential construction     
Council supported establishing a bylaw aimed at minimizing dust from the construction of residential properties, with fines for non-compliance. The bylaw identifies various procedures and technologies that can be used to minimize dust. Residential properties for the purpose of this bylaw do not include multi-residential buildings.

Midtown in Focus report  
Council adopted the final Midtown in Focus report as a comprehensive new planning framework for the Yonge-Eglinton area in Midtown Toronto, with related amendments to the Official Plan and a new Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan. Midtown in Focus provides policy direction for ensuring that the area develops as a complete, diverse community. Council also endorsed a related plan for parks/public realm and a strategy for community services/facilities.

Changes to development incentive program   
Council approved a new city-wide Community Improvement Plan that implements changes to the Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology incentive program. The program, introduced in 2008, provides tax incentives to encourage the renovation or construction of buildings in targeted employment sectors and fosters brownfield remediation by way of development grants or property-tax cancellation.

Appointment of chief financial officer
Council approved the appointment of Heather Taylor as the City’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). She will assume the role on September 4, joining the three Deputy City Managers who work closely with the City Manager. The CFO is responsible for setting the City’s overall strategic and financial direction by establishing objectives aligned with Council’s priorities.

Phasing out plastic straws   
Council supported calling for the establishment of a City policy restricting the use of plastic straws in Toronto as part of a broader effort addressing single-use products/packaging and blue-box contamination. The Solid Waste Management Services division was asked to accelerate its planning for the reduced use of single-use or “takeaway” packaging and products, and to undertake public/stakeholder consultation this fall for a report in early 2019.

Organic waste processing     
Council authorized staff to negotiate and enter into agreements necessary to operate, maintain or make capital improvements to the Disco Road organics processing facility so the City can continue using it to process source-separated organics in the years ahead. Council also supported taking steps at the appropriate time to assess potentially having City staff operate the facility rather than using external, contracted services. Solid Waste Management Services expects to collect about 170,600 tonnes of organic waste this year. 

Promotion of community ice skating   
Council agreed to direct staff, working with local councillors, to implement pilot skate-exchange events before the coming outdoor skating season. Priority will be given to holding such events in neighbourhood improvement areas. In addition, Council asked Parks, Forestry and Recreation to formalize a skate-lending program based on a program piloted last winter, with community groups across the city to provide skate-lending this winter using equipment provided by the City.

Honouring Pam McConnell     
Council approved naming the City’s aquatic centre in Regent Park in honour of the late Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell, making it the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre. July was the one-year anniversary of the passing of Deputy Mayor McConnell. As a downtown councillor, she championed the revitalization of Regent Park and led the process to build community supports, including construction of the aquatic facility.

Honouring Dudley Laws   
Council supporting consulting with the family of Dudley Laws and the Black Action Defense Committee to identify naming opportunities to officially recognize the late Dudley Laws for his important contributions to Toronto. Laws, a community activist and champion for social justice, founded the Black Action Defense Committee and was a central figure in changing the way Ontario investigates its police services. He died in 2011 at age 76.

Gender equity strategy   
Council adopted a motion calling for the City to work on a gender equity strategy and on establishing a gender equity office at the City. Staff have been directed to report to the Executive Committee on specifics in early 2019.  The overall goal is to ensure that the voices and experiences of women and girls are recognized in the City’s decision-making.

Toronto’s long-term care homes     
Council voted to ask the Long-Term Care Homes and Services division to provide better supports for seniors living with dementia in the City’s 10 long-term care homes by implementing measures inspired by care-based programs such as the Butterfly and Greenhouse Project models. Those models are emotion-centred service models of care for residents with dementia. The undertaking is to start with a pilot project at one site.

Toronto 311 review   
A motion calling for a review of response-time standards for Toronto 311 intake calls and emails from the public was adopted. The motion that Council supported specifies a series of actions to support improving service. Toronto 311 was established to help residents, businesses and visitors report issues and initiate necessary municipal work any time by phoning 311 or emailing

Appeals by dog owners           
Council decided to replace the City’s current tribunal that hears appeals from dog owners who have received a Dangerous Dog Order from the City. The current tribunal of five City staff will be replaced early next year with a Dangerous Dog Review Tribunal that consists of public members appointed by Council.

Preserving Kensington Market   
Council voted to enact a bylaw for the Kensington Market Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District Study Area for one year to prohibit the demolition or removal of any buildings or structures on identified commercial and mixed-use properties. Staff are working on a “made-in-Kensington” approach to a heritage conservation district plan for the neighbourhood, which is expected to take about a year to complete. 

Future of City’s Lancaster airplane     
Council approved the transfer of the City’s FM104 Lancaster bomber to the British Columbia Aviation Museum for the vintage military airplane’s continued restoration and public display there. The museum is to cover costs. The British-designed Avro Lancaster, one of the most famous bombers of the Second World War, has been in storage for many years.

Preserving heritage oak tree   
Council took steps to preserve a 250-year-old oak tree on private property in North York, authorizing staff to negotiate the acquisition of the property at 76 Coral Gable Dr. in North York, subject to a successful arboricultural assessment of the tree. At least 50 per cent of the cost will be funded from private donations.

Posted in Politics
Leave a comment

Throwback Thursday: Summer 1978, according to Seven News

Eric Morse continues his look through Seven News, a community newspaper published 40 years ago in what was then Ward 7, including Cabbaetown.

You don’t expect (or really want) much news in late July and August – now, or 40 years ago. Seven News reflected the mood in its July 29 Page One photo (by Cherry Hassard) of kids playing in a temporary sculpture garden at Harbourfront.

Affordable housing was then, as now, a political live wire. In the July 29 issue of the paper, Alderman Janet Howard – one of two in the ward along with Mayoral candidate-presumptive John Sewell – wrote a long lead column about the sentiment in council that rent review should be ended. The Commissioner of Housing had recommended in his annual report that rent review should be terminated as an impediment to the construction of new rental housing, and had been supported by Council. Howard objected to the position and her comment reflects how quickly a city and its politics can move through a political cycle.

“Toronto City Council has, in recent years, been fairly good about supporting measures to protect tenants … But recently, the pro-development sentiments of City Council, which had been growing since the old ‘save our neighbourhoods’ days, have led to a weakening of this position,” Howard writes

This was mid-1978. The old “save our neighbourhoods”days had only begin 12 years earlier in 1966 with the Trefann Court battles that had culminated in the election of a reformist Council and Mayor David Crombie in 1972. Scarcely six years afterward, the political wheel was seemingly beginning to turn again – or at least Howard was afraid that it might.

Also on Page One, Fauja Singh Bains of Toronto won his case before the Ontario Human Rights Commission against his employer Carrier Air Conditioning, who had suspended him for wearing his kirpan to work. The HRC ruled that when worn solely for religious purposes, the kirpan was not to be considered an offensive weapon.

It was truly the dog days in the Letters column as Sumach Street resident Victor Fletcher was at it again with his complaint against John Sewell (or at least his dogs, though as Fletcher comments, dogs cannot have agency – an attitude that would now be considered sinfully species-ist) allegedly dishing out the real poop in the back lane off Bright Street.

This time though, and in the grand tradition of MSM feeding off neighbourhood papers, Dick Beddoes of the august and veritable Globe and Mail, took up the hue and cry.

Where are they now?

The next issue, August 12, carried a rare masthead. It lists the principal staff: Editor Ulli Diemer, Subscriptions Ralph Cunningham, Bookkeeping Dorothy Bushey, Howard Huggett, Photography Cherry Hassard, Cartoons Kay Cole, Tom McLaughlin. Writers Audrey Bayduza, Eric Blair, Sharon Cameron, Tom Corbett, Ulli Diemer, (Ald) Janet Howard, Howard Huggett, Roger Rolfe, Mary Rosen, George Rust D’Eye, Bonnie Sartori, (Ald) John Sewell.

We at CRA would love to hear from any of you – contact Eric Morse

Ulli Diemer came up with a fanciful way of ending local poverty – abolish all the poverty-support agencies and give the money directly to the poor as income support. Diemer notes that the savings in salaries alone could provide every household in Regent Park with a basic annual income of $4,000 in 1978 dollars. Of course, as he also notes, it would throw a few hundred social support professional workers out of work, but as he says, they are resilient, do not come from a “culture of poverty”, and would then have time to reflect on true causes.

The struggles over Meridian’s proposed South St James Town redevelopment continued, evoking the following cartoon:

And finally, in the midst of the current civic election turmoil this little gem from 40 years ago:

The full stories introduced above are available at and 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.

Posted in Throwback Thursday
Leave a comment

Throwing back 40 years: the story behind Seven News

By Eric Morse, a communications volunteer with the Cabbagetown Residents’ Association.

For the past year or so, I’ve been tracking highlights of the old Ward Seven News from 40 years ago. The paper was created in 1970 as a “progressive” alternative to mainstream media, and it was in print from 1970 through March 1985, existing in a perpetual state of financial crisis and subsisting on a hot mix of grants, donations, volunteer labour and ad revenue (plus some income from a print shop it owned). Unfortunately, the digital archive for its last year of existence is available only as images of the front page top halves, so the reason for its expiry isn’t immediately available. Did it write its own obituary, or just fold its tents and quietly steal away?

It lived its entire span as an editorial collective, so did not always have a formal editor (and whether or not a masthead appeared seems to have depended a lot on how much ad copy they had managed to sell), but many, many names then and later famous in the reformist movement in municipal politics passed through its pages. Here is a masthead from September 1983:

Recently Ron Kaplansky, one of the board members listed, contacted us after reading Throwback Thursday, and we talked over coffee. A well-known graphic designer in Toronto, he had served on the board for about a year in 1982-83.

“I grew up with socialist politics in my blood. My parents married very young, and left for Israel [then known as Palestine] in the 30s. They returned to Toronto in 1937, and I was born here in 1939.

“In the 1970s, I became very involved in the reform movement. I lived on Hampton Avenue in Riverdale for a few years and then moved to Don Vale – in those days it was still Don Vale, it was the real estate community that changed the name to Cabbagetown later, but the Cabbagetown that Hugh Garner wrote about in his book was where Regent Park is now. From 1980 through 1984 I lived on Sumach.

“I did design work for many political figures in the 1980s, for Bob Rae when he first came back from Ottawa to run in Ontario, and afterwards I did fundraising for social causes in the area and finally sat on the board of Seven News in 1982-84.”

Kaplansky, now in his late 70s, continues in graphic design, and did the early brochures for the Regent Park redevelopment. He now lives in the Annex.

In the period when he was on the board, Seven News underwent some design and layout changes, and one of them was the regular inclusion of line drawings of local landmarks by a talented local artist Joe Houston. At first the idea seems to have been that he would be an editorial cartoonist, but after an issue or two at most his work went in another direction. Here are a few samples:

April 6, 1983

April 22, 1983

May 8, 1983

It’s not that long ago, but it’s a different city now.

There are many people in the community who were involved with Seven News in its 15-year lifespan, and we would love to hear your reminiscences – contact me for coffee!

Posted in Local Interest, Throwback Thursday
Leave a comment

Cycling safety tips from Des Ryan

Des Ryan is a retired police officer who volunteers as a CRA board director and leads our safety and security portfolio.

One of the privileges of living in downtown Toronto is being able to take public transit or ride a bike pretty well anywhere you need or want to go. The increasing numbers of Bike Share locations makes cycling a very favourable mode of transportation, especially for people like me who don’t own a bike (shhh…don’t tell anyone!). And, as you’ve likely been reading (and seeing and experiencing), there are a lot of safety concerns about cycling in our beautiful city, including enforcement by our local constabulary.

While I would like to be able to click my heels and make some of the car drivers in this city stop driving like…well, you can probably fill in that blank…I cannot. So, let’s look at a few ways to be safe(r) while riding your bike.

First of all, what is a bicycle?

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act, which governs the movement on our roadways, defines a bike as a vehicle that has one, two or three wheels (a unicycle, bicycle or tricycle), has steering handlebars and pedals, and does not have a motor (motor-assisted bikes such as electric bicycles or scooters and mopeds are a whole different story!). You don’t need a licence to own one or have any sort of liability insurance on it. And you don’t need a driver’s licence. Having so said, you DO need to know the rules of the road because whether you are operating a motor vehicle or a bike, the law requires you to follow them.

For example, whether in a car or on a bike, you have to stop at stop signs and when streetcar doors open or school bus stop lights flash. Unless otherwise indicated, cyclists must follow one-way street signs. And the list goes on.

Assuming you ride according to the rules, what else can you do to keep yourself safe out there?

Wearing a helmet helps. A lot. Public Health Ontario published the results of a study that looked at the impact of mandatory bicycle helmet legislation and found that, for children 0-14 years of age, wearing a helmet significantly reduced serious injury and death. The difference in mortality rates were not such an issue for adult riders in this study but believe me when I tell you—it is a VERY good idea to wear one. By law, anyone under 18 must wear an approved helmet. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that riders under 16 years of age wear their helmets (READ: you, parent, will receive the offence notice if your child is not wearing a helmet, even if Junior is on a tricycle).

And be aware that, if you are in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, you are on a bike. You are vulnerable. If anyone is going to get hurt, you are much more likely to receive significant injuries than someone in a car. Be aware of your surroundings. Drive defensively (but not like a jerk!). All of the reflective clothing and bells and whistles in the world won’t help you if you’re not fully engaged with your journey.

And, just to clarify a common misunderstanding, you DO have to identify yourself to a police officer who stops you for breaking any HTA rules (or any municipal by-law that regulates traffic). Section 218 of the Act makes this pretty clear. If you don’t ID yourself (verbal is sufficient), you can be arrested. And, if you are convicted of any HTA offences that you were charged with while riding your bike, where applicable, the points on your driver’s licence will be affected.

All of this is to say, wear your helmet, follow the rules of the road, and be aware of your surroundings. Aside from the helmet part, this is likely how you drive your car. There is nothing like the smell of the summer breeze on your face as your ride through the various neighbourhoods that surround us and, whether it is on a bike, motorcycle, or with the windows (or top) down on the car, now is the time to enjoy it. Drive carefully.

Posted in Safety and Security