IN 2009 CABBAGETOWN’S HERITAGE WINCHESTER HOTEL & HALL NEARLY MET THEIR ‘WATERLOO’

But they survived in only one hour, thanks to Toronto’s fire fighters. There were damages, but no injuries at the site, and this was a reminder of Cabbagetown’s wealth when it comes to historic buildings, culture, and the stories of people who once lived there – and many who still do. These days the Winchester has become a treasure.  There are many heritage buildings along Parliament and within the neighbourhood. The Winchester stands out – a giant among emerging businesses – and after several months of rebuilding, it’s become first rate – complete with a modern ‘dome’ on top.<Above – the original Winchester Hotel, named The Lake View, built in 1880.  The Winchester Hotel and the adjoining Winchester Hall, were constructed in 1888 by the noted architectural firm of Kennedy and Holland. Those structures are both still standing. In 1941, architect Benjamin Swartz oversaw alterations to the site, including the Art Moderne interior.>

THEY’RE LONG GONE, BUT MAYBE NOT FORGOTTEN – THREE ‘SENIOR’ TORONTO HOTELS

Remember The Warwick, where Dundas East met Jarvis Street. It was the site of significant dance bands in the 1940’s and 50’s – until the 1960’s.

Then it switched to burlesque, and became notable for Toronto’s earliest crossdressing personalities. Allan Maloney, would host the evenings in his alter ego as Brandee. The Ford Hotel, Dundas Street West at Bay, 750 rooms, was built in 1928 and for decades thereafter was one of Toronto’s most prominent hotels. It was close to the Toronto Bus Terminal, and naturally became an ideal place for travelers to find cheap rooms. The Ford became known as a site for crime and vice, as well as outlawed affairs.The Lord Simcoe, 150 King St. West, was named after John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. It opened for business in 1956.  <photo – The Lord Simcoe under construction> The 20-storey concrete and glass modernist structure  lacked central air-conditioning, lost money over 24 years, and had insufficient convention space. The Lord Simcoe was closed in 1979 and demolished in 1981. It was replaced by the Sun Life Centre East Tower in 1984.

FROM THE WINTER PALACE TO GERRARD ST. E., A GRAND DUCHESS’S ‘RICHES TO RAGS’ TALE

Grand Duchess OLGA ALEXANDROVNA was born into the richest monarchy in the world, residing in a 200-room mansion with 70 servants. As the younger sister of Tsar Nicholas II, she was driven out of Russia when her brother abdicated and was executed.She fled to Denmark, then to Canada, dying in poverty in TORONTO in 1960 at the age of 78.This is where the Grand Duchess ended up – living in a tumbledown apartment over a beauty parlour in TORONTO’s east end. The building still stands at 710 Gerrard Street East.)From LOOKOOM – “In Canada, the Grand Duchess and her husband lived mainly in Mississauga (Camilla Rd), modestly but not in poverty. Through her mother she was a member of the reigning royal family of Denmark. It was only after the death of her husband in 1958 that she became ill and moved to an acquaintance’s home in Toronto where she died.”

THE CREST WILL ALWAYS BE A PART OF TORONTO’S THEATRICAL HISTORY

Opened in 1927 as the BELSIZE, it became The CREST in 1953, and in 1971 the REGENT.The CREST Theatre Company was founded in 1953, and a year later opened its first eleven-play season. This was the beginning of indigenous, commercial theatre in TORONTO. Up until then there had been mostly touring productions from the West End and the US.Many of TORONTO’s (and Canada’s) best-known actors and actresses performed at The Crest. These included Kate Reid, Richard Monette, Jackie Burroughs, Frances Hyland, Eric House and Martha Henry. Most went on to Stratford, the Shaw, television and movie careers.Among the directors – Douglas Campbell, Barry Morse, Mavor Moore, Leon Major, John Hirsch, Herbert Whittaker and Allan Lund.The CREST closed its doors on April 30, 1966 after mounting 140 productions. This was the beginning of commercially viable home-grown theatre in TORONTO. Soon after, the Crest became the Regent, and began showing movies.  Recently it functioned as a sound mixing studio by day, and a cinema at night.

A RYERSON UNIVERSITY HISTORY PROF. COMPARES OUR PANDEMIC WITH 1918’S ‘SPANISH FLU’

Professor ARNE KISLENKO writes “We can draw on history for an understanding of how previous generations survived pandemics. The 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ was amongst the deadliest in history, killing an estimated 50 to 100-million worldwide, including nearly 55,000 Canadians.”<ABOVE – Telephone company women in Calgary have masked up while taking a break outside.>Just as in 2020, marginalized populations were ravaged. Indigenous communities faced a mortality rate five times the national average.Connaught Laboratories in TORONTO developed a vaccine by late 1918, but offered no guarantee if it would work. . . . When the virus dissipated, Canada emerged a different country. A federal Department of Health was created. Some communities were destroyed, or changed forever.<photo – children at Victoria Park Forest School in Toronto practice blowing their noses, 1913; City of Toronto Archives> In 1918 there was no public health insurance, diets were poorer, and sanitation standards were lower. . . . . Anti-viral drugs and other front-line technologies used today were non-existent.   We’ve learned that only patient and concerted action can manage the historical realities of pandemics.” <from the Ryerson University Magazine, Winter/2021>From the TORONTO STAR, 1918 – ‘WEAR A MASK OR GO TO JAIL’ – “A family of six had all been infected with this strange new disease. The father, mother and four children were recovering. But the dad had been laid off for weeks. A terrible hole had been made in the resources of this little family.

NOT THE PRETTIEST OF FACES, BUT IT MADE THE FRONT COVER OF THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE

After the death of SUDAN,45, a male Northern White Rhinoceros, our planet was left with only two of the species – NAJIN, a grand daughter and FATU, a daughter. Sudan was the last male Northern White Rhino left on earth – stretching back millions of years. He’d been well looked after 24/7 by Kenyan caretakers. Visitors traveled from all over just to see him, pet him and feed him snacks. He especially liked carrots. Sudan was a singular creature who weighed more than two tons, but would soon be gone forever. Some visitors cried after spending time with him.Sudan still had two living descendants – Najin and Fatu, who by themselves would not be able to save their subspecies. They spend their days grazing from dawn to dusk, in a field protected by a tall electric fence. Safari vehicles can now stop along the fence and take a look. The story by Sam Anderson, with photographs by Jack Davison, can be found at this address — https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/magazine/the-last-two-northern-white-rhinos-on-earth.html

GHOST BLDGS. ON TORONTO ISLANDS – GONE FOREVER, BUT THEIR IMAGES SURVIVE IN THE ARCHIVES

TORONTO Islands, a vast network of parks, canals, a boardwalk, superb views of the skyline, an antique carousel, labyrinth, the harbour and Lake Ontario, along with a community of 250 winterized cottages (on Ward’s Island) . . . only 15 minutes from TORONTO’s Financial District.  Ferries leave from the foot of Yonge Street and minutes later you’re there. Winter and summer schedules differ, and the ferries take different routes. Water taxis are also available.  The “ghost buildings” of TORONTO Islands exist only in the city archives. Below – paintings by TORONTO artists, dating from 1856 to 1949.<Old Fog Bell, Toronto Island, by William Armstrong (1822-1916)><Elias Rogers’ Belvedere Cottage, Centre Island, artist unidentified, 1890><Louis Privat Hotel, Toronto Island, where The Eastern Gap is now, 1850, by Owen Staples (1866-1949)><David Ward Senior’s house, Centre Island, built in 1856, by Joseph Thomas Rolph (1831-19160><William Ward House, ca1871-85, Centre Island, by Owen Staples (1866-1949)><The Monarch, paddle steamer, ran aground on Toronto Island, November 29/1856, by William Armstrong (1822-1916)><Lookout Tower, Toronto Harbour Police, 1949, by Nicholas Hornyansky (1896-1965)>

PHOTOGRAPHER RONNY JAQUES’ EARLY TORONTO IMAGES RESIDE IN CANADA’S NATIONAL ARCHIVES

RONNY JAQUES (1910-2008) was a British photographer whose family moved from England to Canada, then on to New York City and TORONTO, where he opened a studio at 24 Grenville Street. He stayed here until 1941 when he closed the studio and moved back to New York. During the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s his photographic specialties were fashion, travel, food and lifetstyle. His work is everywhere, but unfortunately he’s no longer with us.Mr. Jaques was in TORONTO long enough to record some splendid images of our city between 1939 and 1951.  <Photo above – Queen Street East at Yonge Street>A large number of these are in Canada’s National Library and Archives.  <Photo above – Trading Floor, the old Toronto Stock Market>.  The building still exists on Bay Street in the Financial District.You can scan through the Archives’ vast collections at this address – http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca<Photo above – Kensington Market>

THE LEUTY LIFEGUARD STATION IN THE BEACH HAS NOW PASSED ITS FIRST CENTURY

Should you see The Leuty Lifeguard Station you’re in The Beach – actually a neighbourhood of four beaches on the edge of Lake Ontario. One of the best known Toronto landmarks, it’s been well admired and protected by the locals and the city itself. Now it’s 100 years old, and still being photographed and painted year ‘round, winter or summer.<Photo above – UrbanToronto.ca><Photo above – a particularly snowy day, February, 2014 – by  Edward Row><The Station was built by the architectural firm Chapman, Oxley and Bishop. Photo – July 19, 1920, from PortsToronto.><The winter of February, 1977 – from Candace McLaren><ChristmasTime lighting – from Marley Adams><Leuty’s staff, summer 1987 – from Bruce Hollowell><100 years old, Leuty Lifeguard Station – – – 1920-2020>

QUEEN ELIZABETH II HAS PRESIDED OVER CANADA FOR ALMOST HALF OF THIS COUNTRY’S HISTORY

As Head-of-State Her Majesty will reach her 70th year on the throne, and shows no sign of withdrawing from her duties. Her most recent appearance, at the age of 94, was delivering her annual Christmas Speech to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. There are plans developing to honour the Queen’s 70th year in 2022.Canada has many reasons to take part in The Platinum Jubilee, to recognize the duty and service of a remarkable woman.<Her Majesty signs Canada’s Constitutional Proclamation on April 17, 1982 as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau looks on. Canadian Press Photo> <The Queen is now the longest-serving British monarch. Reuters News Agency Photo><She greeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November/2015 by saying it’s “nice to see you again… but under different circumstances. . . . I will say, you were much taller than me the last time we met.”> <On another occasion – Prime Miinister Trudeau told the Queen, 40 years after being introduced by his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, as a 3 year-old. “Well, this is extraordinary to think of, isn’t it,” the Queen replied with a laugh.>In 1978, the Queen was leaving Canada from Moncton, New Brunswick, and a military band was playing. So 3-year-old Sacha and 5-year-old Justin (on the right) marched back and forth while their father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, walked to his plane.  <PHOTO – Toronto Star><THE QUEEN & PRINCE PHILIP celebrated Canada Day/2010 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa – photo Zoran Karapanceu>