REGINA-BORN MURRAY WESTGATE, ESSO’S ‘HAPPY MOTORING’ TV SPOKESMAN, HAS PASSED AWAY

On Saturday nights in the 1950’s and 60’s, ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ (HNIC) was on the air, and MURRAY WESTGATE, wearing a service station hat, did all the commercial breaks for ESSO. He reached the age of 100 this past April, and died on Monday at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre.

“As a kid watching HNIC, I really did believe he had his own Esso station,” said PAUL PATSKOU, hockey historian and Canada’s top video archivist of the Maple Leafs and NHL. “If he was on HNIC, he had to be real. And I believe it’s true that people from out of town drove around looking for Murray’s station in TORONTO . . .

“I had no idea he was an actor (nominated for a Genie, winner of an ACTRA) until years later.”

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BRYAN AND ALAN HAVE A SURPRISE ENCOUNTER ENROUTE TO THEIR COTTAGE

You don’t want to mess with one of these. Two friends, traveling home from a restaurant north of their cottage, wrote “fortunately we saw the moose way in the distance being chased by a dog. It ran a long way on the road, then turned around and ran back past us, and then finally into the bush.”

“Worse still – we were in the red Prius!  Talk about waving a flag at a bull!” – BRYAN BLENKIN (driver) ALAN ROWE (photographer)

TORONTO & SAN FRANCISCO ARE TOUGH NUTS TO CRACK WHEN IT COMES TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING

<QUOTE – Christine Mountsteven/TORONTO>

Two downtowners, about 2500 miles (4,000 kilometres) apart, set out to find living space they could afford. Both succeeded – one of them 24-years ago, and the other in 2018. Each is thrilled to be living in the centre of it all.

Now 83, CHRISTINE MOUNTSTEVEN, former teacher and member of a co-op, landed a two-bedroom suite not far from the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1994. Her modest rent allows for a high quality of llfe thanks to pensions and subsidized housing. Discovering something like this today would be like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. <PHOTO – Vince Talotta, Toronto Star>

An Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario has just been released. It’s a partnership between the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association & the Co-operative Housing Federation and makes these recommendations: the creation of 69,000 new affordable rental homes over 10 years; 30,000 units for those with addictions & mental health issues; financial support of $10,000 for each of the existing 260,000 social housing units over 10 years; and rent supplements or income support for 311,000 households.

PHOTO ABOVE by Kevin Van Paassen/Globe and Mail – TORONTO’s Regent Park (shown in 2005) is an example of what can be done. Total redevelopment has been happening there for about 10 years – mixing market-value with affordable social housing, and building a state-of-the-art aquatic centre, a high-tech playground, a running track, ice rink, theatre centre, soccer fields, a new community centre, outdoor art, a supermarket, bank, coffee shops and parkland.

The Regent Park Project has brought forth a new downtown community. Funded by the city, province and federal governments, redevelopment there continues.

ADRIAN CARATOWSA’s struggle to find his way through the labyrinth of SAN FRANCISCO’s 2018 lottery system – after years of trying, has come out a winner. He now has an apartment he loves, near the Financial District, in the thick of it, and says “To be able to look down on this chaos and not hear anything, and then to open the window . . . I love the sound. This is so downtown.”

Before managing to get his apartment, Mr. Caratowsa, 31. admitted he would walk the streets of the Financial District yearning to live there, “seeing people in suits, going to work, they’d have their coffee in hand – to me it was like being a little girl who wants to be a princess and she wears her mom’s high heels . . .

“That was me in the Financial District.”

What’s it like searching for affordable housing & entering the SAN FRANCISCO housing lottery? Find out by reading the New York Times’ in-depth article These 95 Apartments Promised Affordable Rent in SAN FRANCISCO. Then 6,580 People Applied.’ – and you’ll find out.

<PHOTO – “Affordable Housing Now!” demonstration in Parkdale, TORONTO; blogTO>

SOCIALLY AWARE MILLENNIALS ARE OPENING THEIR HEARTS & HOMES TO GIVE DOGS A SECOND CHANCE

<Micke, who was rescued after he was abandoned as a puppy in the Dominican Republic>

TORONTO’s ‘NOW Magazine’ has assembled a multi-page story about rescue dogs – among them survivors of Hurricane Harvey in HOUSTON last August. Animal shelters in that city were overwhelmed, and dogs were left swimming in flooded streets and fending for themselves. There were reports of mass euthanasia.

PHOTOS BY Samuel Engelking

<Redemption Paws’ founder Nicole Simone with former Houstonians IRWIN & CHARLIE.>

To help out NICOLE SIMONE arranged for a van to go to Houston and bring back 10 dogs to TORONTO. Her GoFundMe campaign went viral and Nicole raised enough money to make four trips to Texas. Since early September, over 120 hurricane dogs have found homes here through her rescue organization, ‘Redemption Paws’.

<Kyle Swanson adopted his husky puppy, OTIS, from Team Dog Rescue. Otis’s parents were rescued from Syria during the conflict.>

<Jen Brailsford adopted her rescue dog, POND, three years ago.

Among the other dog rescue organizations in TORONTO – Save Our Scruff (SOS), one of the city’s biggest, founded in 2014 by 29-year-old LAURA BYE.  The oeganization relies heavily on Instagram and Facebook to share photos of available dogs, http://www.saveourscruff.org/

TEAM Dog Rescue founded in 2012, http://teamdogrescue.ca/

Redemption Paws – http://redemptionpaws.org/

 Read the story at https://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/how-millennials-turned-owning-a-rescue-dog-into-a-social-issue/

MATTHIEU BIDS ‘ADIEU’ TO TORONTO AND ‘BONJOUR’ TO QUEBEC CITY

After seven years battling with TORONTO and its demands, a young family has decided enough is enough in this “raging bull housing market”. They’re leaving town and heading east to QUEBEC CITY.

“Until TORONTO is fixed, we are retreating from the battle against housing and settling down in Quebec City. A mortgage amortized over 15 years, 8000 sq ft of land, mountains 25 minutes away, and a system that is far more affordable for parents. What is there not to like?  Without a concrete solution, expect veteran technology developers who are parents, like myself, to move to other cities like Quebec City”MATTHIEU

<photo – Quebec City, NickHam/Wikipedia>

Read the tale of a dad who tried to make it in TORONTO, and finally said ‘let’s get out of here’https://solongtoronto.wordpress.com/

TORONTO TRANSIT’S ANDY BYFORD PREPARES TO MEET ‘THE MONSTROSITY’ – NEW YORK CITY’S SUBWAY

After five years as CEO of the TORONTO Transit Commission, ANDY BYFORD <photo – CTV> is about to take on the New York City Transit Authority (the MTA). He’ll be in charge of subways, buses, paratransit services and the Staten Island Railway.

Andy begins work in the Big Apple this January.

Just in time for Mr. Byford’s arrival, The New York Times Magazine presents its first January/2018 cover story – “The Case For The Subway”, an in-depth look at the system and how it was wrecked.

JONATHAN MAHLER writes “New York City’s subway is falling apart. It built the city, and the city must rebuild it to survive. Long before it became an archaic, filthy, profligate symbol of everything wrong with our broken cities, New York’s subway was a marvel – a mad feat of engineering and an audacious gamble on a preposterously ambitious vision.”

Photographs by DAMON WINTER
Read the in-depth story at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/magazine/subway-new-york-city-public-transportation-wealth-inequality.html

DEPARTURES OF THOSE WHO BRIGHTENED OUR LIVES IN 2017 – OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH THEM

<PHOTO – Toronto sky, PHILIP HARE>

BARBARA Cook – ultimate interpreter of Broadway songs
CHUCK Berry – musician
CHRISTINE Keeler, UK model and showgirl
JIMMY Breslin – journalist & author
*JOHNNY Bower, Toronto Maple Leafs hockey legend
GLEN Campbell – musician
*ARNOLD Chang – Member of Parliament, Scarborough/Agincourt
*JULIETTE Augustina Cavazzi – CBC television star
LIZ Dawn – longtime ‘Coronation Street’ actress
FATS Domino – musician
*GORD Downie – musician, poet
DICK Gregory – civil rights activist, satirist
*ROY Halladay – former Blue Jays pitcher
*TOM Harpur – author, religion writer
JOHN Hurt – actor
*BETTY Kennedy – CFRB journalist, CBC personality
MARTIN Landau – actor
JERRY Lewis – comedian, actor
*DAVID Livingstone – fashion journalist
*BILL Marshall – Toronto International Film Festival co-founder
*STUART MacLean – CBC radio personality
MARY Tyler Moore – actor
ROGER Moore – actor
JEANNE Moreau – actor
TOM Petty – musician
DELLA REESE – musician
DON Rickles – comedian
DAVID Rockefeller – banker & philanthropist
*DAISY Sweeny, piano teacher & sister of Oscar Peterson
*JUNE Rowlands – Toronto’s first female mayor
SAM Shepard – playwright, actor
ADAM West – actor, the original Batman

Canadians or closely connected with Canada (asterisks*)