Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Transit in Cabbagetown

Our historian Eric Morse has rifted on the news of the final Metropass featuring Cabbagetown artwork to explore transit and Cabbagetown. 
Last week we were greeted with the exciting news that the last TTC Metropass ever to be issued will be the December 2018 version, and will feature Cabbagetown!

In honour of this historic neighbourhood event, I was  inspired to pull together a  brief illustrated history of Transit in Cabbagetown, sourced mainly from the good bloggers at , and focusing on routes long departed.

Organized urban transit in Toronto began in 1849 with horse-drawn cars, and reached Cabbagetown in the early 1870s. The service, under a succession of private companies, was electrified in the course of the 1890s, and finally the TTC was formed in 1921.

The TTC routes that service modern Cabbagetown are the 65 Parliament bus, the 75 Sherbourne bus, the 94 Wellesley buses, and the 506 Carlton and 505 Dundas streetcars.

James Bow, a transit enthusiast and author, says that “by 1910, Winchester cars operated from downtown Toronto via Yonge, Carlton, Parliament and Winchester to Sumach Street. Parliament cars were looping downtown via Yonge, Front and Bay and running via Queen, Parliament and Gerrard Streets to Greenwood Avenue. Carlton cars bridged the gap between Gerrard and Carlton, as part of its service from Broadview and Gerrard to the Downtown via Gerrard, Parliament, Carlton and Yonge.”

Few images of the Winchester car actually on Winchester Street survive. Here’s one from 1923 of the tracks looking westward toward Sackville from where the double tracks became single, with a “wye” (Y) turn at Sumach. (The wye terminals allowed the use of single-ended cars (with a driver’s seat at one end only, as now. They must also have been dreadfully noisy neighbours.)

A second photo shows a Peter Witt car in service at Queen and Church in 1921. The Winchester end of the route saw a gradual decline in ridership (it’s not THAT far a walk from Parliament to Sumach!), was converted to bus service in 1924, and went out of service entirely in 1930.

The Sherbourne car came into service as far north as Carlton in 1874. For some years it then ran along Carlton to Parliament but trackage was extended up Sherbourne to Bloor in 1878, and in 1883 the route was split into the Sherbourne and Winchester routes. From 1891 to 1923, service on Sherbourne was run as a circular (“Belt Line”) loop (Sherbourne, Bloor, Spadina and King) and soon electrified. In 1923, the new TTC did away with the Belt Line and re-established the Sherbourne car. Here’s Peter Witt car 2102 at the Rosedale Loop at the top end of the run in April 1946.

Oddly, the remaining photos of Sherbourne cars are all of the Peter Witt design. We say oddly because James Bow notes in his description of the route that the Sherbourne trackage was a pre-First World War legacy, never extensively rebuilt.

“As a result, Sherbourne Street maintained a narrower “devilstrip” (the pavement between the tracks) that was not wide enough to allow two newer generation streetcars to pass.

As a result, Peter Witt cars were rare visitors to Sherbourne Street (although some did operate on the infrequently scheduled King-Sherbourne tripper service), and it’s likely that PCC cars never operated on Sherbourne Street in revenue servi

After the Second World War, with the tracks in desperate need of replacement, and the TTC favouring new buses over maintaining its streetcar fleet, Sherbourne Street became one of the first streetcar routes to be abandoned as part of the TTC’s post-war contraction of its streetcar network. Streetcars were replaced by buses on January 5, 1947, and the tracks were torn up or buried soon afterward.

Sherbourne streetcars are thus long departed, but (courtesy of my fun with photoshop), here’s what it would have undoubtedly looked like if it had still been around in this century (below).

The historic Parliament streetcar route, now succeeded by the 65 bus, is very old indeed, and its roots apparently tangled enough that in his Toronto Transit commentary, James Bow does not give a detailed chronology. Bow states that by 1910, “Parliament cars were looping downtown via Yonge, Front and Bay and running via Queen, Parliament and Gerrard Streets to a wye at Greenwood Avenue. Carlton cars bridged the gap between Gerrard and Carlton, as part of its service from Broadview and Gerrard to the Downtown via Gerrard, Parliament, Carlton and Yonge.”

There were no tracks north of Winchester until after the Second World War; they were built only in 1924, running up to an off-street loop  a stone’s throw from where Castle Frank station is now. It was the extension of the Parliament line to Bloor that killed the Winchester streetcar, and the construction of the Bloor-Danforth (Line 2) subway in 1968 that killed the Parliament car. The 65 bus succeeded it, and today there is only scheduled streetcar service on Parliament from Carlton to Gerrard.
TTC air-electric PCC (“Red Rocket”) #4196 waits at Viaduct Loop (now the Rekai Family Parkette just south of Bloor).

PCC 4377 heads southbound on Parliament while a Carlton PCC prepares to turn north from Gerrard in this 1965 shot. This is a lovely, atmospheric shot.

And finally, this dramatic winter scene of the 506 at Carlton and Ontario by your humble correspondent, which, coincidentally, can be found in The Tilted Dog Xmas Crafts Show coming up December 8!!.

All of the historic cars of the Toronto transit era from the 1890s onward can be viewed, lovingly restored, at the Halton Radial Railway Museum , just about an hour outside of Toronto. Two of them, the first electric-driven model from 1894

and Peter Witt #2894 (The Peter Witts were in TTC service 1921-1965), can be ridden!

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursdays: Nov. 18, 1978

Politics remained at the top of the news for the Nov. 18 issue of Seven News. The Toronto municipal election had occurred Nov. 13, and Ward Seven native son, reformer, and erstwhile Alderman for nine years John Sewell had defeated his conservative opponent Tony O’Donohue.

In those days, municipal government was more elaborately structured, with Metro Council holding considerable power, while City Council also had a more powerful Executive Committee. Outcomes, then as now, were complicated by a lack of standing alignments (ok, “parties”. It was clear that Sewell would not have majority support for his reformist platform, but what is especially interesting for us today is that – in Seven News’s estimation and in the smaller footprint of the old city – the balance of power stood roughly where it is estimated to stand in the newly elected City Council taking office in December: 10 progressives, three centrists (five today) and 10 conservatives, though Seven thought that three of these (Art Eggleton, Tony Ruprecht and Andrew Patton) might veer to the centre on some issues.

Seven News felt that Sewell was likely to face great challenges as mayor, and indeed it turned out to be so. He was portrayed in the major media as “radical” – he rode a bike to work and wore jeans, my God! – and at the end of his two-year term was defeated in a heartbreaker (87,919 to 86,152) by centre-right Art Eggleton, who went on to serve a remarkable 11 years (1980-1991) as mayor. Sewell has remained an outstanding public figure in Toronto life.

On the local scene, Gord Cressy (father of sitting Councillor Joe Cressy) topped the Ward Seven polls, to the mortification of incumbent Janet Howard, who had hoped to place first. (In those days, two aldermen per ward were elected, but the winner got a spot on Metro Council.) The feeling was that she had made a mistake in not running a joint campaign with Cressy, and had been out-resourced by the NDP’s support of Cressy’s campaign.

A look at the three winners’ platforms is interesting; the issues (e.g.”neighbourhoods first”, “affordable housing”) remain similar, though community safety seems not to have been the ballot issue in 1978 that it was in 2018. The mix of who is supporting what back then is intriguing.

There was an interesting ad for a new publication aimed at the city’s communities of colour, The Black Pages.

Duke of York School was enmeshed in controversy. This is not the Regent Park/Duke of York school building on 20 Regent St. which was finally closed in 2012 and demolished in 2016, but its predecessor on Pembroke Street (like warships, school names seem to have recurring incarnations down the decades) which is now known as Gabrielle Roy French School. At the time, Gabrielle Roy was sharing accommodation at Duke of York, and both parties, as Seven News reported, were manifestly unhappy at the arrangement.

(Richard Haskell’s blog on downtown living has a fascinating review of the Pembroke St. building, which in his 2012 entry he still calls Duke of York).

And Park School on Shuter Street, not yet renamed (until 2001) Nelson Mandela Park School, was celebrating its 125th anniversary; the piece is accompanied by a delightful drawing of the original 1853 school building (replaced 1914-1916 by the present school building which, in its turn, was massively renovated in 2013).

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.

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: November 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse goes back to November 1978 courtesy of community paper Seven News.

The November 4, 1978 issue of Seven News hit the street in between the federal by-elections that saw David Crombie and Bob Rae elected to Parliament for the first time, and the November 13, 1978 civic elections (no spoilers but here’s the ad for one mayoral candidate, the former Alderman for Ward Seven).

There was a full-page centrespread on local candidates, For Mayor, John Sewell and the much-reviled (see below) Tony O’Donohue, who seems to have been a somewhat earlier example of Stop The Gravy Train politics and David Smith, a reputed right-winger who nonetheless was running on a platform of safe neighbourhoods and affordable housing (Sewell’s base as well). For Alderman, Janet Howard (an incumbent), novice Gordon Cressey, George Patton, Steve Necheff, and Charlie Rolfe (‘always runs, always gets clobbered’). All male candidates sported considerably shaggier heads than their successors this year, but fewer beards.

In the meantime there was plenty of local news. The headliner was the latest threat to the residents of the Toronto Islands.

Those of us with long memories and/or Wikipedia access will recall that private homes on the Islands were the bone of a 40-year-long battle with Metro Toronto that had its beginnings in 1956, when the newly created Metro Parks Department decided that ‘The construction of the Gardiner Expressway had removed many acres of recreational land along the Toronto waterfront, and the Islands lands were to replace the acreage.” (So there.) A battle began that saw the number of homes on the Islands reduced from 630 (with commercial amenities) to about 250 (without commercial amenities and mainly concentrated on Ward’s and Algonquin Islands). As Elaine Farragher reports:

“The Island residents have been fighting this battle for ten long years, when they grew tired of witnessing hundreds of their neighbours being evicted and their communities razed to the ground. Since then, at tremendous financial cost to the 254 households on the Island, they have lost every court attempt to keep from being evicted in favour of new parkland.”

The nub of the matter was that Metro (as landowner) proposed to evict the residents (as homeowners) without compensation, and the battle – which ran for another 15 years – came to be viewed (in these parts at least) as a war between an old-fashioned, ham-fisted, pigheaded planning bureaucracy and a bunch of spoiled people who led privileged pseudo-bucolic existences on ground that was far too good for them (after all, if they had the money to pay for litigation, they could, presumably, afford to pack up and leave, surely, in the name of the Greater Good.)

Since the lineup of support for the Islanders was deeply concentrated in Downtown Toronto, and most support for demolition was from suburban Metro councillors, the dispute appears to presage the 905/416 split that has existed since amalgamation and has taken on new life since the War on the Car was unofficially declared in 2010. As the paper went to press, the Islanders (who after all had the strategic advantage of living on an island) were preparing to resist harbour-borne invasion by all available (preferably) non-violent means, and tactical exercises were being conducted at potential beachheads.

An op-ed from Ulli Diemer sums it up: ‘The 650 Island residents don’t want to leave, the local ward alderman doesn’t want them to leave, their MPP doesn’t want them to leave, their MP doesn’t want them to leave, Toronto City Council doesn’t want them to leave, and the people of Toronto don’t want them to leave.” Diemer advises Torontonians not to vote for Tony O’Donohue, the only Mayoral candidate who wants the residents out (spoiler: they didn’t).

The Board of Education was locked in battle with local Regent Park parents over its decision to close Duke of York School.

And Canadian boxer John Raftery makes his first international appearance (at least in the pages of Seven News) representing CYC in Europe (he didn’t win, but it was East Germany), while Pat Fennel had better luck in Tampere, winning a gold in a 13-nation tournament.

Finally, the Page One shot: a lovely photo of the polychromatic brickwork spire of All Saints Church at Sherbourne and Dundas, then not as desolate a corner as it has become in the 40 years since. Among other things, as the caption notes, All Saints was the new headquarters of Seven News, which led something of a wandering existence in the fifteen years of its publishing life. The shot is the lead-in to George Rust D’Eye’s current piece on landmarks of Ward 7.

Here are his remarks on Sherbourne Street – we invite readers to compare his account of 40 years ago with the current streetscape, which in the Dundas – Sherbourne block has not changed a great deal. Two of the houses he draws attention to are from the mid-1850s, the third from 1881. It was a grand avenue, now sadly gone to seed.

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.

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 . 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.


Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: A busy September 1978

Volunteer Eric Morse summarizes the (very newsy) September of 1978 in Cabbagetown from Seven News, a community newspaper published in what was then Ward 7, Toronto.

As noted in our last Throwback Thursday, the brand-new Riverdale Farm opened on Sept. 9, the very day that Seven News appeared. In the Sept 23 issue, Cabbagetowner and photographer George Rust d’Eye adds a few photos from the great day.

The Great TTC Strike of 1978 had time to come and go between issues of Seven News (it lasted eight days before the employees were legislated back to work). Howard Huggett weighs in with a slightly novel take on labour relations in public transit, arguing from the starting point that, after all, labour unions are players in the capitalist system, and, like private and public corporations, are selling a product (labour) in a market economy. But…

Not the first or last time the argument has been made. The 1978 strike was a flash in the pan compared to the 23-day monster of four years before, when TTC workers demanded a 40 per cent increase over their minimum wage of $5 an hour (that’s $26 in 2016 dollars).

Election season was upon us, then as now, and Ald. Janet Howard’s final column from City Hall contains this tidbit, reminding us of how local all politics really can be. Recalling that Howard’s Ward 7 colleague John Sewell (or at least his pooches) was the focus of a recurring theme in Seven News (dog-do), one wonders whether Howard might not have gotten more than her fair share of animal complaints.

In this issue, the election ads began running. The municipal election was November 13. Howard herself was running again. (Her erstwhile colleague John Sewell was running for mayor.)

Barry Tulip was running for Toronto board of education.

And in the federal by-election over across the river in Broadview, Bob Rae enters the lists.

Still on a political theme, one of the Communist Parties of Canada (there were always several) was trying to fundraise.

Of interest to us over west of Parliament in Upper Lower Middle Cabbagetown, aka Cabbagetown South North, they were changing the direction of the one-ways on Seaton, Ontario and Berkeley. “The idea seems to be to prevent through traffic from going through the neighbourhood.” That may or may not have been code for “John deflector”; at least that was certainly the avowed purpose for the next redirection around 10 years later, when the three streets became one-way-north between Gerrard and Carlton.

Regular photographer Cherry Hassard contributes a photo from the Cabbagetown Cultural Festival, which was a great deal more earnestly cultural than its lineal descendant.

And finally on a note of pop culture, look at these prices! Look at these covers! Remember VINYL, now said to be making a comeback? Woolworth/Woolco was having a grand opening at 772 Queen W. with these lovelies and many more for a mere $3.99. Not to mention that Seven News scored a two-page ad spread, a rare bounty.

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.

Throwback Thursday

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.

Throwback Thursday

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.

Throwback Thursday

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.

Local Interest Throwback Thursday

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!

Throwback Thursday

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 . 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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