Mary Pellatt

Last of a line

Mary Pellatt, niece to builder of Casa Loma, didn’t value possessions

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Her independence was like a home with many rooms. When 94-year-old Mary Pellatt passed away in Sechelt, B.C. on December 27 of last year, the former Torontonian had lived a life rich in exploration and discovery.

“She was always an adventurer,” says Christine Chandler, a Sechelt resident and friend who cared for Pellatt in her later years.

Montgomery’s Inn

A spirited Toronto

Montgomery’s Inn hosts lecture on the history of drink

By Tom G. Kernaghan

I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me”
—Sir Winston Churchill

How much pleasure should we have?

Rebels Among Us

Rebels among us

VideoCabaret brings The Red River Rebellion to the Cameron

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Playwright and director Michael Hollingsworth and VideoCabaret return to The Cameron House this month with The Red River Rebellion, the newly devised fifth play from his acclaimed satirical chronicle, The History of the Village of the Small Huts.

Remembering The Unforgettable

Remembering the unforgettable

Local places to mark November 11

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Though it was called “the war to end all wars,” the First World War was just the beginning of modern global conflict. But its magnitude, nature, and horror did give rise to another important beginning—the tradition of Remembrance Day. On Thursday, November 11 at 11:00 a.m., it will be 86 years since the Great War came to an end. With two minutes of silence, we continue to acknowledge those Canadians who have died serving our country. And, around the Annex area, a number of ceremonies will take place to mark the occasion.

Swansea: a local Eden

Swansea: a local Eden

From iron works to brownfield to residential development

By Tom G. Kernaghan

On the east lot of the former Stelco Swansea Works site, Cresford Developments is laying the foundation of “Windermere by the Lake,” a large residential complex that will contain over 200 town homes and condominium units.

Written in bronze

Written in bronze

City’s parks the result of Hurricane Hazel

By Tom G. Kernaghan

A plaque now stands where water roared 50 years ago.

“It doesn’t mean anything until you realize that was the height of the water,” said author Mike Filey, who emceed the Oct. 16 unveiling of the plaque commemorating the night Hurricane Hazel hit the west end. Filey was referring to the seven-metre-high blue waves painted on the nearby Bloor Street viaduct, which mark where the Humber River’s water rose to on the night of the storm. “We are sitting in a lake,” he explained.

Plaque to commemorate 50th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel

Plaque to commemorate 50th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel

Record-breaking storm hit the west end the hardest

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Fifty years ago on the morning of Oct. 16, Torontonians awoke to the inconceivable: their city ravaged by a hurricane. Hurricane Hazel had left 81 people dead, thousands homeless, and a city in shock.

And this year, on Oct. 14 at 1:00 p.m., the Ontario Heritage Foundation (OHF), the Humber Heritage Committee (HHC), and the City of Toronto will mark the hurricane’s 50th anniversary by unveiling a commemorative plaque at King’s Mill Park (under the Bloor Street viaduct by the Old Mill subway station).

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night

Hurricane Hazel hit with devastating swiftness

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Fifty years ago on the morning of Oct. 16, Torontonians awoke to the inconceivable: their city ravaged by a hurricane. For the unfortunate people on lower ground or near riverbanks, Hurricane Hazel had made its terrifying introduction several hours before. Eighty-one people were dead, thousands were left homeless, and the city was in shock.

Remembering Hurricane Hazel

Remembering Hurricane Hazel

Local residents recall high winds and flooding

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Fifty years ago on the morning of October 16, Torontonians awoke to the inconceivable: their city ravaged by a hurricane. Hazel had left 81 people dead, thousands homeless, and a city in shock.

A beneficiary of Cooey values

A beneficiary of Cooey values
Grace appreciated a bit of well-timed mischief

By Tom G. Kernaghan

“If only my lower legs were just an inch or two longer,” Grace used to say.

It was never quite clear to me if this quip was really a comment on herself as a woman, or if she simply meant that a couple more inches of leg bone would’ve come in handy in athletics. And Grace was passionate about sports—basketball, baseball, volleyball, badminton, hockey, swimming, golf, and, according to the June 1927 Central Technical School (CTS) Vulcan, riding camels.

Grace always targeted success

Grace always targeted success

Father created trusty .22 “Cooey” rifle

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Grace Cooey learned to shoot a rifle at age 11, in 1921. She had a great teacher—her father.

In previous columns, I have talked about Herbert Cooey’s successful gun and machining business at Howland and Bridgman avenues. However, a closer look at the example set by Herbert will shed even more light on the only daughter of this remarkable Annex man.

Mother embodied Victorian values

Mother embodied Victorian values

Daughter told stories through gin and cigarettes

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Susannah Shuter was born on June 29, 1881, one week ahead of Herbert Cooey, her future husband. For all Herbert’s laudable determination, this is one race that was out of his hands, as it was out of Susannah’s. But in life, this lovely woman, with a piercing stare, made it a point to control as much in her immediate world as possible, particularly her daughter Grace.

Prepared for Life

Prepared for Life

Herbert Cooey insisted his children attend Central Tech

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Herbert Cooey insisted his children attend Central Technical School, in his opinion the best school in the city. Though their Bathurst Street home was considered outside the school’s district, the three Cooey kids—Grace, Donald, and Hubert—raced off to CTS, to become their father’s children—technically inclined and prepared for life.

A daughter’s eyes, a mother’s ears

A daughter’s eyes, a mother’s ears

Grace Cooey had a profound bond with her daughter

By Tom G. Kernaghan

In the same month Grace’s cousin wrote the above words, John Scopes was found guilty of teaching the theory of evolution in Dayton, Tennessee. Grace supported true progress, especially in education, and admired Scopes for his fortitude.

Grace moves from the Annex, but her daughter returns

Grace moves from the Annex, but her daughter returns

The Bohemian Embassy and Yorkville’s coffee houses big draws

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Grace was smiling on March 29, 1944, when she and George took a six-month-old girl into their home. The child joined David, a 9-year-old boy they had adopted four years earlier. Grace had found her away around the tubular pregnancy. Their little girl, whom they named Alison, settled in easily and the young family was very happy—in the beginning. George started up a sporting goods store, Grace kept house, David kept busy, and Alison, sensitive and intuitive, quickly saw the strength and friendship in her relationship with her mother, and the adoration of her father.

Grace’s obstacles were women’s obstacles

Grace’s obstacles were women’s obstacles

Opportunities denied because of her gender

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Grace usually waited until bedtime to cry; often she would cry herself to sleep. One time, however, her young daughter Alison saw her break down in the kitchen. It was 1953 and Grace’s attempt to reunite with her estranged husband, George, had failed. The usually observant eyes didn’t see that her girl, then nine, was peering through the crack in the door, watching the tears Grace believed were being shed in absolute solitude. One of the great contradictions of her life was that while she often felt alone in her battle against obstacles, she was in fact always around people.

Through Grace’s Eyes

Through Grace’s Eyes

A window into the Annex at the start of the 20th century

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Five-year-old Grace Cooey sat on the running board of the Model T Ford, dazed and blinking, her bright green eyes regaining focus on the intersection of Bathurst and Bloor streets, tresses of her sandy-brown hair poking out from under her hat. Having slipped away from her mother, she’d been hit by the Ford, thrown clean over its hood, had bumped the back of the car on her way down before finally landing on the road. Miraculously, the snow, along with Grace’s winter gear, had kept her from harm. Her mother, Susannah, of the Shuter family, was at her side. Her father, Herbert William Cooey, founder of H.W. Cooey Machine & Arms, creator of the Cooey .22 calibre rifle, was busy working at his shop up at Howland and Bridgman avenues.

Celtic Village

Celtic Village

Heritage preserved in story and song

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Their ancient ancestors roamed Europe, often telling stories and playing music. Today, the descendents of Irish and Scottish immigrants are still on the move, forever drawn to sad tales and sweet tunes. And here in the west end, people inside and outside the Celtic community enjoy the beat of the bodhran and the fling of the foot.

The Bard of Ukraine

The Bard of Ukraine

Local museum honours Ukrainian hero

By Tom G. Kernaghan

In the Taras Shevchenko Museum (1614 Bloor St. W.), the brilliant man known as the Bard of Ukraine lives in copies of his artwork, books of poetry, and works rendered in his honour. His greatest home, however, is in the hearts and minds of people the world over. Here in the west end, members of the museum are preserving and spreading the memory of the man who dared to speak out against Tsarist oppression in the 19th century.

“He’s considered the greatest son of Ukraine,” says Bill Harasym, local resident and president of the Taras H. Shevchenko Museum & Memorial Park Foundation. “And he’s considered the father of the modern Ukrainian language.”

Fifty years of freedom in Canada

Fifty years of freedom in Canada

Budapest Park monument celebrates Hungarian 56ers

By Tom G. Kernaghan

You may have missed it. At the east end of Sunnyside Beach, in a small area called Budapest Park, sits a haunting cluster of big interconnected steel shards. This sculpture is a monument to the Hungarians who gave their lives for freedom almost fifty years ago. It’s also a reminder to those who lived through the revolt, one of whom is Geza Matrai.

Quietly seeking tolerance

Quietly seeking tolerance

Queer West Village home to growing lesbian community

By Tom G. Kernaghan

“I don’t need to be a big urban dyke,” says Stephanie Rogerson, a lesbian artist and writer who lives in the Annex but wants to move to the west end.

For many years, lesbian women, like gay men profiled in this section of last month’s Village Gleaner, have been choosing to live in the west end instead of Church and Wellesley streets, or what is often referred to as the Gay Ghetto.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow

West end gay community is spreading out

By Tom G. Kernaghan

“In North America, we tend to put people in one spot or another,” says Tom Riley, a local gay man in his 50s. “Sexuality is really a continuum.”

Riley is one of many gay men who have chosen to make Toronto’s west end, sometimes called Queer West Village, their home. For over 15 years, there has been a general shift of the city’s gay population away from Church and Wellesley streets, or what is often referred to as the Gay Ghetto.

Culture shock in Canada

Culture shock in Canada

Subculture youth project slow to catch on among Russian youth

By Tom G. Kernaghan

“There’s something that keeps young Russians from integrating,” says Ilia Avroutine, head of the Subculture youth project at Russian House, a non-profit group in Swansea formed to preserve and share Russian culture in Canada.

Jami Mosque served changing community

Jami Mosque served changing community

Toronto’s oldest mosque welcomes all

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Toronto’s oldest mosque sits on a quiet street just east of High Park.

Jami Mosque has served many Muslim newcomers by offering youth and marriage counselling, funeral services, religious education, and settlement advice since it opened in the late 1960s. Located at 56 Boustead Ave., the mosque has been a spiritual Canadian home to a diverse mix of Muslims from all over the world—Europe, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa, and the West Indies.

More action for Afghan women

More action for Afghan women

AWO tackles a legacy of oppression

By Tom G. Kernaghan

There is an Afghan proverb that reads, “Little talk, more action.”

Here in Toronto, the Afghan Women’s Organization (AWO) is talking and acting in an effort to serve the specific needs of Afghan women. Through its Village area head office on Dundas Street West, and three additional outlets in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the AWO provides Afghan refugees and immigrants with a wide array of services in the areas of advocacy, settlement, employment, language, training, and education.

Viva Latino

Viva Latino

Latin community expresses itself through art, dance

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Forty-five years ago, the Argentinean poet Jorge Luis Borges wrote that each one of us ultimately discovers the “patient labyrinth” of our life’s work is really a drawing of our own face.

Today, Toronto’s Latin population, estimated by some at around 250,000, has a multitude of faces. This richly expressive community, which hails from more than 20 countries, is comprised of individuals diverse in education, income, national culture, history, and values. But there is a unifying similarity: their desire to move forward together and become part of Canadian society.

Jane Jacobs

Original activist

Neighbourhood pays tribute to Jane Jacobs

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Like all prophets, her name preceded her. And though Annex resident Jane Jacobs passed away on April 25, the words and work of this legendary urban writer and activist live after her in the many books she penned, the initiatives she supported, and the people she inspired.

Lost Rivers

One league under the Annex

Plans afoot to celebrate our buried city

By Tom G. Kernaghan

The last time you took a stroll, you may not have been aware you were walking over history. Maybe you saw some evidence of Toronto’s lost rivers, but didn’t know it: dead end streets, flooded basements, tilting houses, oddly shaped parks, dips in the road.

High Park K-9

Barking up the right tree

High Park K-9 Committee improves dog-human relations

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Roughly 600 dogs pass through High Park on any given day. Most of the time they present no problem to the people who share the park. On the occasions that they do, however, the High Park K-9 Committee is there to help.

Wendigo Way

Naturalist’s legacy is close-knit community

A history of life in the valley

By Tom G. Kernaghan

One of the city’s most unique streets lies hidden in a valley in northeast Swansea. Sheltered by Bloor Street, Ellis Park Road, and High Park, Wendigo Way for generations has been treasured for its dramatic topography, deep seclusion, and enchanting sylvan beauty.

St. Anne’s

St. Anne’s resilient soul

Century-old church’s struggle to maintain building and relevancy

By Tom G. Kernaghan

St. Anne’s Anglican Church has endured bad weather, controversy, financial difficulties, and demographic shifts.

Now, as it approaches the 100th anniversary of its construction, the beautiful church that Group of Seven artist J.E.H. MacDonald once described as the “home for the soul of a wide neighbourhood,” is struggling to stay relevant.

Fort York

Speaking from the garrison

Meet David O’Hara, Fort York’s new administrator

By Tom G. Kernaghan

David O’Hara is clear about what is important to him in his role as Fort York’s new administrator. The former City of Toronto planner hopes to bring the museum and the city closer together.

“The whole context is changing down here,” says the 36-year-old O’Hara, who has a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph and a master’s of science in urban planning from the University of Toronto. “We are strengthening connections to existing neighbourhoods.”

Roy Singh

Little West Indian Culture in BWV

Guyana native Roy Singh reflects on life in Toronto

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Roy Singh remembers the weather when he arrived in Canada at the age of 16.

“There was lots of snow, and I loved it,” says Singh, who emigrated from Guyana with his family in 1963. He stayed briefly with his aunt in North York before his family settled in central Etobicoke, where Singh went to high school and still lives today.

Rock the Vote

Rocking the Village Vote

Fundraiser engages youth in activism and politics

By Tom G. Kernaghan

“Pierced, Pissed off and Political!” reads the rallying cry on Rockthevote.ca.

For this Village-grown nationwide fundraising organization, launching and connecting campaigns to create awareness about local and international issues is its main reason for being.

Bobbie Rosenfeld

The Complete Athlete

Anne Dublin’s latest effort profiles Bobbie Rosenfeld

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Bobbie Rosenfeld was one of the most remarkable athletes ever to grace the world stage.

Quick and strong, Rosenfeld was an extremely tough competitor who possessed exceptional natural talent. With bullet-like determination, she excelled at every sport she tried. She set records in track and field, led Canada’s first women’s track and field team at the 1928 Olympics, won medals, earned accolades, and became a well-known Globe and Mail columnist. She was named female athlete of the half-century in 1950, has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and had a plaque, a park, and an award named in her honour. And she fought the prevailing notion that women could not handle highly- competitive sports.

Paul Stewart, Busker

Singing the street story

Gospel and traditional country music inspire Village busker

By Tom G. Kernaghan

Local busker Paul Stewart knows about being away from home. Since 1992, Stewart has been singing songs in the Village. Day after day, the Etobicoke resident and his 13-year-old Seeing Eye dog, Roadie (named after Rhode Island), make their way to Bloor Street, where Stewart spends hours strumming his guitar and wailing tales of life for the busy Village burghers.

David Allen, Photographer

Capturing High Park’s beauty

Walkabout with photographer David Allen

By Tom G. Kernaghan

David Allen likes turning restrictions into opportunities. Though he usually takes pictures at sunrise or sunset, this veteran photographer and local resident can easily find High Park’s beauty in the flat light of an overcast sky in the middle of a winter’s day.

Etobicoke Chamber of Commerce

Moving water runs deep

Gib-San Pools set a new standard

Congratulations to Toronto’s Gib-San pools who recently achieved a first when it became the first pool builder in the world to receive the internationally recognized ISO-9001 Quality Standards Registration.

Ed Gibbs, president and CEO, and his team of roughly 120 dedicated employees have spent three years refining their policies, procedures, and practices to ensure they have a measurable system of delivering the highest possible level of customer service all year around.

Steve Stevens

is an experienced songwriter and outstanding guitarist who has been playing the open stages of Toronto for years, most notably that of Free Times Café. His mellow style and heartfelt lyrics, influenced by the music of John Lennon and Cat Stevens, are perfect for an evening of easygoing entertainment and reflective enjoyment. So hang out,…

Jade

…will shine as STEVE STEVENS returns to the stage, passionate, unjaded, delivering his unique blend of heartfelt lyrics and mellow guitar. Influenced for years by the work of John Lennon, Cat Stevens and Lou Reed, he has created his own raw, unfettered sound. Steve once started and led a band called First Impressions. A youthful…

York Region Character Community

Article appeared in the April 2007 issue of Municipal World magazine

By Tom G. Kernaghan

“The better a State is constituted, the more do public affairs intrude upon private affairs in the minds of the citizens.”
Jean Jacques Rousseau
The Social Contract

Character is working in York Region. For the past five years, the nine municipalities that constitute the vast and vibrant region to the north of Toronto, Ontario, have been taking bold steps toward a better future.

Ivo Karlovic

I was approached to write an online bio for professional tennis player Ivo Karlovic. www.ivo-karlovic.com

Primafact

A document imaging and retrieval system for the legal profession, this important software package needed a name that wouldn’t miss the mark. So I stepped forward and created one.