Throwback Thursday: July 1978

Eric Morse continues his journey back four decades, perusing the archives of Seven News, a Toronto Community newspaper published in the 1970s and 1980s in what was then Ward 7, covering Cabbagetown and environs.

The landlord-tenant dispute at the Barbara Apartments in St James Town continues to occupy the front page. In keeping with its mandate as a reforming newspaper, Seven News infiltrated one of its star correspondents, Thom Corbett, into an in-camera meeting of the Rent Review Board with tenants and Meridian Corp., the owner. Seven News didn’t pretend to publish balanced coverage, and what emerged was – if not quite Hemingway – a colourful account of what must in any case have been a pretty volatile encounter. As with so much of journalism, the substance fades into the years and we are left with the impressions.

And then, just before press time, (the longer story is undated) a news flash; that Meridian would no longer be responsible for building management, which would now be undertaken by Evergreen Property Management, which already managed several other buildings in St James Town and, as Seven notes, had close ties to Meridian.

On a lighter note, the Caravan cultural festival was on, and the Serbian community pavilion was featured on page two.

A previous edition had announced that Ward 7 Alderman John Sewell would run for Mayor, and that Gordon Cressy would run for the vacant slot; one of two Aldermen for the ward. Seven now notes that Cressy and incumbent Janet Howard might run a joint campaign, but this was not to be. Among other tidbits, the Library House at Parliament and Berkeley was closing for renovations as covered in earlier issues, and Regent Optical was moving from 424 Parliament (which later housed a succession of Cabbagetown pubs – the Ben Wicks, then The Local GEST, and now The Tilted Dog) to the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard.

Remember the Wellesley Hospital, once a vital part of the community, and demolished in the late 1990s? It put out a call for volunteers for the emergency room. The duties were rewarding, but not for the faint of heart.

Remember the neighbourhood newspaper, once a vital part of the community? Seven had run a readership survey earlier in the year, and the results were in. Most popular – local news, the community calendar and letters, along with George Rust D’Eye’s neighbourhood history long reads. The editors themselves were surprised at how popular political news was. In demand: “Want more of it”: City Hall coverage, local groups and photos. ‘Want less of it”– advertising.

Readers also wanted more news not covered by dailies, and in your correspondent’s memory, the old Downtown Bulletin prided ourselves on being the source of many important local story leads for the big dailies, the AirBnB problems on Bleecker St. probably being one of the last examples of the type. Community bloggers, take note!

Speaking of advertising, it’s not all dull commercialism. Sometimes it’s sensational commercialism. Remember Y2K? What did you do to prepare for it? (Your correspondent used to tell anxious enquirers that he kept a can of salmon easily accessible on his mantelpiece, only later confessing that there never was either the salmon or the mantelpiece). But you didn’t have to wait that long for some good Malthusian Resilience prep; right there on page six of the July 1, 1978 issue (beside the headline “Why do TTC Fares Rise?” a silly question if ever there was one, since Aristotle has explained at some length that TTC fares rise because it is in their eternal inherent nature to go up) is this great ad:

Finally, as this issue of Throwback Thursday appears, Toronto finds itself in a major crisis around cycling accidents. In 1978, there were many years to go before any attempts to construct bike lanes, but there was a crisis. The province’s response from that year may seem somewhat quaint.

The full stories introduced above are available at http://www.connexions.org/SevenNews/Docs/7News-Volume09-Number04.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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