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.”

‘TORONTO THE GOOD’ HAS OPENED A 2ND MODULAR HOUSING BUILDING FOR THE HOMELESS

There are now two modular supportive buildings within Toronto’s Phase One for the homeless. The latest has opened at 321 Dovercourt Road, preceded by the first at 11 Macey Avenue. These 44 new studio apartments will be part of the 2020-21 winter service plan, to ensure safe places for people facing winter’s cold.Mayor JOHN TORY – “Modular Housing has proven to be a quick and efficient way to increase the supply of affordable housing in our city. These sites provide vulnerable residents with a safe, stable, and welcoming place to call home, and access vital supports and services. Building affordable housing in Toronto has been a top priority for me, but I know this cannot be done on our own,”Canada’s federal government provided funding for the project, and the Province of Ontario got the homes built as quickly as possible.The new structure is three-storeys high and includes a common room, dining room, program space, administrative offices, and a commercial kitchen that can provide on-site meals for residents. Each apartment comes with a built-in kitchen, microwave and fridge. They’re furnished with a twin bed, a lounge chair, a dining table and chairs, and a dresser.  <PHOTOS – City of Toronto>

KIDS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA HAVE BEEN DRAWING PICTURES OF HOPE DURING COVID-19

TORONTO’s response, according to The Star, was “overwhelming and inspirational.” The art work is part of a children’s contest called ‘A Big Picture’, which will reward the top three contestants and donate money to a charity of their choice, to help people in dire need during the pandemic. The top prize winner would be posted on a billboard at 1140 Yonge Street.<Above – ‘Stay Safe, Wash Your Hands’ by Marco B., age 4. “Spread love, not germs.”><‘The Rainbow Sunset’ by Emma K., age 7><‘We’re Always Connected By Our Hearts’ by Marlow R., age 8>

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.

I KNOW EGLINTON-YONGE ALMOST BY HEART – BUT A ‘NEW VIEW’ MAY BE COMING ITS’ WAY

Having worked for about 30 years near the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, I’ve seen this neighbourhood spread and heighten. It’s now evolving full speed ahead, with a possible massive mixed-use complex of five office and residential skyscrapers.  Oxford Properties, one of Canada’s major developing companies, has submitted a Zoning By-law Amendment application to the City in hopes of developing 9.2-acres in Midtown.<Photo above – Eglinton-Yonge, more or less as it is now>  The project would take over a block already occupied by three office buildings. They’ll be demolished, along with an elevated parking garage. The Crosstown LRT is being assembled under and above ground, making Eglinton-Yonge a prime interconnection for the Line Number One subway, and several TTC bus routes.<Rendering above – 9.2-acre site with a 3 million square foot mixed-use masterplan. Image – Oxford Properties.> Renowned architects Pelli Clarke Pelli will work with designers in the north precinct, and Toronto’s well-known and much admired Hariri Pontarini Architects will take on the south.  Pelli Clarke Pelli has designed the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong, and other of the  world’s tallest skyscrapers.