Throwback Thursday: Nov. 19, 1977

Volunteer Eric Morse takes us back 40 years with this week’s look at 7 News, a community paper that focused on Cabbagetown and the rest of the then-Ward 7 in the City of Toronto.

As might be expected, given its mandate for social advocacy, race relations issues were a steady thread through the editions of 7 News in the day. The lead story for the Nov. 19, 1977 issue featured a Board of Education (now TDSB) discussion at Eastdale Collegiate as to how racism in schools might be combated. It noted that Eastdale itself had a policy of suspending anyone guilty of racial name-calling. Meanwhile, in a comment evocative of current discussion, “a number of people pointed to economic and social frustrations that lead people to take out their anger on others.”

The Don Jail Demolition debate continued, with that notorious rabble-rouser John Sewell commenting that if horrible places were to be razed, then “the first thing to come down should be the Legislature Building. More terrible things have happened there than anywhere else.” Really, John!

On the next page, that other notorious rabble-rouser (and still-eminent Cabbagetowner) George Rust d’Eye delivered a salvo at the call for physical demolition of the jail. He quoted Professor Eric Arthur’s view that the jail is “an impressive building in the manner made famous by … Dance the Younger, who designed Newgate Prison. Compared with the grimness of Newgate, the City (Don) Jail is a friendly building.”

In Michael Creighton’s novel The Great Train Robbery, later made into a delightful movie with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland and a fine popular commentary on Victorian London, it’s noted that Dance was ‘“one of the most meticulous intellects of the Age of Taste”, and that every detail of the building had been set forth to emphasize the harsh facts of confinement.” Here’s Newgate. Readers are invited to choose for themselves which is more depressing.

In 1977, gentrification was just getting started in the area, and George Rust d’Eye contributed an interesting piece on the history of gables, one of Cabbagetown’s outstanding architectural features, including several photographic examples. An interesting omission is the so-called “Witch’s House” on Sumach, now one of our more famous gingerbread restorations.

And last but not least, how does $4,391 grab you for a Mercury Bobcat station wagon from Gardiner Lincoln Mercury?

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