Throwback Thursdays: December 17, 1977

In our last Throwback Thursday for 2017, volunteer Eric Morse looks back four decades to 1977 as captured in the 7 News, a local newspaper covering the happenings of what was then Ward 7, including Cabbagetown.

 Looking back at a neighbourhood paper from exactly 40 years ago, it is occasionally surprising what catches the eye deep inside, while front page stories may be a little less stimulating.

This issue of 7 News marks the first mention of a Cabbagetown cultural institution, as it was announced that the Toronto Dance Theatre would be taking over the former Donvale Community Centre, which had formerly been St Enoch’s Church, at Winchester and Metcalfe. The usual concerns about parking and noise were expressed, though apparently everyone was happy with TDT’s assurances that the facility would be mainly a workshop with small performances a few times a year. Aldermen Jane Howard and John Sewell
undertook to steer the plans through Council. The facility was expected to be operational by July 1978. We will have to wait to see how that came out!

“If I describe the Club and its facilities as a mess, then I’m being kind,” writes correspondent Bryan Lunt. Olympian Shawn O’Sullivan now lives in the Belleville area and, sadly, suffers from boxers’s dementia, but Cabbagetown remembers him as the first Olympian (1984 Summer, Los Angeles) of the Cabbagetown Boxing and Youth Centre, housed then as now at 2 Lancaster Ave. All that was still in the future in December 1977. It was another year or so before O’Sullivan came to CBYC and hooked up with trainer Peter Wylie, who managed the Club with his brother John, and another four years before he
won the world amateur gold medal. But CYBC was in 7 News as a fixture of the community with 450 members from all backgrounds, and in financial difficulties. In a lengthy piece, partly reproduced here, Lunt calls for the community to rally around and fight for City support for the Club.

The Page One lead was sombre. The City had received a report from City Planning Board head Don Barker on homelessness, which was then still called “Skid Row” without a blush. The report guesstimated 8,000-10,000 homeless in Toronto but community worker Harvey “Alf” Jackson thought the real number was several times that. In terms of Cabbagetown, friction was beginning to arise from gentrification, (“whitepainting” or, as Cabbagetown novelist Hugh Garner called it, “Intruders”.)

In the Fall 1977, the first Star Wars had just burst upon the scene like an Imperial Star Destroyer across the firmament and the Christmas repercussions were being felt as far down as the perennial (and sometimes mildly indelicate) “Hamsters” comic strip.

There was a new ad for Bobbins restaurant, at 547 Parliament where the Rexall drugstore now is, with”Special Wines” in the wine cellar. Who remembers (or can imagine) what they might have had squirrelled away down there in the Eocene of Canadian wine palates?

Remember when Toronto had more than 80 publishers and Steel Rail Books was one of them, publishing poet Milton Acorn’s Jackpine Sonnets among other Canadian writers of the period in their 1977 output? Cabbagetown poet and writer Ted Plantos had a new Cabbagetown collection out for Christmas: The Universe Ends at Sherbourne and Queen.

And finally, some things never change on Parliament Street.

May your days be merry and bright.

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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