Toronto Bell Cote Neighbourhood Bazaar this Sunday

The heritage preservation people at Toronto Bell Cote at 691 Scarlett Road are holding a fundraising bazaar on Sunday August 25 between 1 and 3pm. Funds raised will go to support local artisans and the maintenance of the former St Matthias church.

It’s never too late or too early to stock up!  Please come to the Toronto Bell Cote Heritage Preservation’s Neighbourhood Bazaar. Flowers, baked goods, handicrafts, paintings will be on sale to support local artisans and an award-winning Heritage Building.”

A Former Westonite (Westonian) Remembers

Don Brown is a retired elementary school principal currently residing in Grimsby, Ontario. He has considerable roots in the Weston area and has spent some time researching the genealogy of his family and sends this brief summary of his findings that may be of interest to local residents and history buffs.

My great great grandfather, John Porter (b. 1797 d. 1874) was adopted by Benjamin Davis (a blacksmith, who was Weston village’s first resident) and his wife, Elizabeth, following the death of his father George Porter while working as a carpenter in York (Toronto) in the early 19th C.

Benjamin Davis had moved his wife and three children from Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) where he started working on the building of Fort George in 1794. His adopted son became known as John Davis Porter.

Following the death of Benjamin, John and his adoptive mother, Elizabeth donated land at the SE corner of the Weston Plank Road and King Street in 1821 to the Methodist Episcopal Church which is now Weston Central United Church. John built a home on the land across the street where the Weston Public Library now stands. He owned and operated a lumber mill on the nearby Humber River. He married Louisa Longstaff (b. 1897 d. 1882) in 1825

John and Louisa Porter’s 3rd daughter, Mary Emily (b. 1837 d. 1918), married Robert Spoor Brown (b. 1830 d. 1921), my great grandfather in 1856. They lived in a home they named “Elsmere” at what was then the north end of Elsmere Avenue.

Robert was one of the founding members of the Riverside Cemetery board. He carried on the family tradition of bookbinding started by his great grandfather in the late 18th C in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England as Vice President of the Brown Brothers Printing Company on Wellington Street in Toronto. Their son, my grandfather, Frederick William Brown (b. 1860 d. 1948) was their eldest son. Fred Brown started attending the original High School District #1, County of York in the year it burned, 1874. He worked locally as a bookkeeper and married Elizabeth Catherine Monkman (b.1865 d.1947) who had moved with her family from Albion Twp. to Rosemount Ave. in Weston.

His second eldest sister, Margaret Brown married Joseph Nason who, with Dr. F.D. Cruickshank authored the book “History of Weston”, first published in 1937. Joseph Nason was born in Weston in 1861 and died in 1944. He received a BA degree from the University of Toronto in 1881, and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1886. He was the first chairman of the Weston Public Library Board in 1914.

My father, Victor Aubrey Brown (b. 1900 d. 1973) attended H.J Alexander Public School (originally King Street School) when the principal was Mr. H.J. Alexander. He was the manager of the Beaver Lumber (formerly Irvine Lumber) on Weston Road. My mother, Sadie Luverda Brown (b. 1902 d. 1970) moved with her family from a farm in Albion Twp. In the twenties, as had the family of her future mother-in-law, Lizzie Monkman. Sadie worked as secretary of Central United Church until her passing in 1970. Her sister Eveline McCort (b. 1899 d, 1982) and their mother Sarah McCort (b. 1864 d. 1959) who lived at #69 King Street were also members of the church following their move to Weston.

I lived at #93 King Street from the time of my birth in 1943 until my marriage to Sharon Ann Butler in 1966 in Central United Church. I attended Memorial P.S. from 1948 to 1955, Weston Senior P.S. (C.R. Marchant Middle School) from 1955 to 1957 and Weston Collegiate and Vocational School from 1957 to 1962). Those who were teens in the late 50s and early 60s may remember me as a founder of Club Central, a biweekly teen dance operating out of Central United. 

If anyone would like to get in touch with Don, please contact Weston Web with your details and they will be forwarded.

Some reflections

We’re officially in the summer doldrums – at least I am. Adam’s still incredibly productive.

In spite of having a new premier with his early announcements and the delicious prospect of October’s civic election, my side of Weston Web’s virtual office is eerily quiet with ceiling fans gently moving stale air over the desks, typewriters and silent telephones.

WestonWeb’s imaginary virtual office in busier times. From Early Office Museum.

Before the civic election campaigns begin in earnest, this might be a good time to take a breath and reflect on some of the almost 3000 articles that have appeared on Weston Web since Adam began publishing in 2010. Incidentally, every article written on Weston Web is still available and can be searched by topic or date.

WestonWeb uses WordPress which keeps statistics on the number of times each article is viewed. Interestingly, some articles have a life of their own and are constantly being read – even years after publication. Many of these most popular articles were written by student writers who are paid a small stipend for their efforts.

Grab a beverage and get comfortable; here’s a list with links to the 20 most popular Weston Web articles of all time – in reverse order. You’ll have to supply your own roll of the drums.

20. St John’s Anglican Church up for sale. February 2016. The mid-19th Century church at 2123 Weston Road was for sale at that time.

19. Weston Wins. February 2016. This is about former Premier Wynne’s (those were the days, remember?) decision to lower fares on the UP Express that resulted in dramatically increased ridership.

18. Drake general store pop up hits Mount Dennis. December 2016. Whenever you have an article with the words ‘Drake’ and ‘Weston’ in it, there’s bound to be lots of interest. Sadly for Drake fans, this was a Drake Hotel pop up.

17. Atlantic Salmon should hit Weston this weekend. September 2013. This one is popular when salmon are running in the fall.

16. 5 buildings to be ashamed of in Weston. May 2010. As a mark of Weston’s transformation over the past eight years, all of these buildings have disappeared entirely except for the Plank House which continues to sit empty and unloved.

15. TV show filming in Weston. March 2011. An interesting article on Weston’s film operations at the time. Scroll down to view an informative comment from Weston Historical Society’s Martin Proctor.

A prop NYPD car outside Weston Lions Arena in November 2012

14. Longtime York South-Weston resident and advocate to become NDP candidate. November 2017. This article about (now MPP) Faisal Hassan is from guest writer Riley Peterson.

13.  WCI home to the youngest recipient of Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Award. June 2016. This was written by one of our student writers, Natalie while she was a student at Weston Collegiate Institute.

12. Weston youth flies to Sweden to represent Canada in Youth World Cup. July 2014. An earlier article from Natalie about a talented WCI soccer player.

11. Zeal Burgers; real burgers. October 2016. Yet another of our student writers, Lieselotte Noort writes about the best burger joint in town.

10. P&Ms – lots of history and a bright future. June 2012. Guest writer Melissa wrote this about the restaurant that has been serving Westonians for decades.

The old P&M location.

 

9. New vegetarian restaurant. March 2016. This is about Budda Chay, the vegetarian restaurant at 1784 Jane.

8. Wakame Sushi is the best sushi joint in Weston. March 2012. Another of Adam’s excellent restaurant reviews; Wakame Sushi is still going strong at 2625 Weston Road.

7. Book review: Safe as Houses. August 2012. Adam’s review of an excellent novel by Eric Walters, written for young adults based around the historical background of Hurricane Hazel.

6. Mark DeMontis is PC candidate. November 2017. This gentleman generated considerable interest during his campaign to become a PC MPP. Adam’s astute observations proved to be correct.

5. Lutong Pinoy: A new Filipino restaurant on Weston. June 2016. Guest writer Charlie Siddayao wrote this about Weston’s first Filipino restaurant, still in business at 1754 Weston Road.

4. P&M: Ready for the Move. January 2015. The story of P&M Restaurant in the weeks before moving to its spanking new location in May 2015.

3. Irving Tissue expanding. July 2012. Irving Tissue is the last of the big employers on Weston Road and guest writer Laurie Mace covered the proposed expansion of the plant.

2. Scarlett Heights Academy to close. October 2017. There has been intense interest around the closing of this school which is not strictly in Weston but obviously of interest to residents locally.

1. Ahmed Hussen wins YSW Liberal nomination. December 2014. The dramatic federal Liberal Party nomination of Ahmed Hussen astonished pundits who expected former councillor Bill Saundercook to win. This story has been accessed more than 2000 times.

Just a couple of observations: the restaurants reviewed in our top 20 are still in operation. If you want them to stick around, keep patronizing them. It’s easy to forget that Weston has undergone some quite remarkable changes in the past eight years with more still in the pipeline. With large numbers of people about to make Weston their new home, the next few years will be interesting.

Weston New-Music School open house Saturday.

Local musician, 27-year-old Juan Paulo Cunanan, better known as Japs Cunanan is opening a music school. Originally from the Philippines, Japs is a talented musician with a degree in music education. His music school will teach students a variety of instruments at any age and any level.

He will be hosting an open house at Victory Assembly Church at 2125 Weston Road on Saturday at 12:30pm. Snacks and soft drinks will be provided. Here’s his invitation:

Japs Cunanan

 DIRECTOR, Weston New-Music School

My name is Japs Cunanan, I’m a musician, producer, composer, arranger and I have a degree in Music Education. Now I am starting a Music school that caters to young and adult alike for a minimal cost in the Weston community because I believe in the power of music. It’s so powerful that it can make you happy, or sad; angry or calm. It can even mend a broken heart. Most of all, It is the only universal language we have; because it speaks to our emotion. You may come from any country, age or orientation, but I’m sure that you know music when you hear it, because it’s already inside you. Now we are here to help you tap into it.

Let us help you and your young ones discover the music within. Our goal in Weston New-Music School is not only to help you understand music, but bring out your own creativity. It doesn’t matter the age; long as you can understand and accept instruction, we know you’ll be able to harness that unique style that you already have. It’s never too late to learn music.

As the world becomes more saturated with technology, skill and competence dry out. Let us bring back the insight and intricacy in the music of tomorrow by letting our kids learn it today.

Give us a call at 416-804-9942 and take advantage of this unique opportunity to enroll and we will teach you how to harness the power that is the music inside you and your children.

WESTON NEW-MUSIC SCHOOL

2125 Weston Road Toronto, ON.  416-804-9942

Open House: Saturday April 7, 12:30 pm

Backpack Giveaway

SoundCheck Youth Arts, a youth-led non-profit based in Toronto’s Weston and Mount Dennis neighbourhoods, is having a back-to-school backpack drive Aug. 31.

It is the first time the non-profit is doing it.

The event will happen between 4 and 7 p.m. at Weston Park Baptist Church, which is located at 1781 Weston Rd. near Lawrence Avenue West in Weston.

The organizers are giving away fully-stocked backpacks. There will also be a community barbecue.

However, the goods are first come first served.

Weston – a (comparatively) long history.

Weston has some old structures. Not that old compared to those in Europe, Africa or Asia but for North America, we have quite a few of historical interest.

Strictly speaking, Weston’s oldest structure is the Carrying Place Trail. This was used by First Nations people and explorers between 1615 and 1793. A plaque was dedicated by the Weston Historical Society in 2013.

The Carrying Place Trail Plaque in 2013.

Weston’s next oldest structure is the 1856 CNR (formerly Grand Trunk) bridge that crosses the Humber to the west of Weston and St Phillips. It was recently widened to accommodate the UP Express but the original structure still stands.

The October 5th 1859 sod turning for the Toronto Grey and Bruce narrow-gauge railway by 19 year-old Prince Arthur, 3rd son of Queen Victoria. From: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

The next oldest structure is the long neglected Plank Road Building at Weston and St Phillips. This structure at 2371 Weston was built in 1841 and   in recent years has stood abandoned. Someone obviously owns it and is paying (no doubt reduced) taxes on it.

The Plank Road Building at 2375 Weston Road. From: Google Maps

Weston Presbyterian Church on Cross Street in Weston has an interesting history dating from 1847. The current version dates from 1880.

Weston Presbyterian Church. From: Google.ca

St John the Evangelist Catholic Church was established in 1853.

Weston Collegiate Institute has been going since before Canada was a country (not in the same building!) and is Toronto’s second oldest high school.

Weston Lacrosse Team 1924. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

Weston Village is filled with fine homes and mansions, many dating from around the turn of the 20th Century. Generations of families have enjoyed these homes and their history once revealed can be fascinating.

The City of Toronto has a web page outlining some useful areas of investigation if you are researching the history of your older home. Weston Historical Society may also be useful in this regard.

Readers are invited to share their discoveries.

Janes Walk, Weston – May 6, 2017

Some of the 2017  Weston Janes Walk participants pose for posterity outside the new UP Express station. (Photo courtesy Cherri Hurst)

Close to 40 people braved chilly temperatures and cloudy skies to visit some key parts of our Weston neighbourhood. Organizers Cherie Hurst and Mary Louise Ashbourne led a well-attended Janes Walk today organized under the banner of the Weston Historical Society. The theme was one of renewal and there was a pervasive sense of a dynamic new Weston emerging after decades of decline and neglect. The tour started at the GO / UP Express station where local historian Mary Louise Ashbourne joked that Weston had suffered with lemons for years, but now, thanks to community activism, we were beginning to get some lemonade. Some of that lemonade takes the form of a fast, frequent connection to the airport or downtown for a cost comparable to the GO train.

Directly across the street is Frontlines where Executive Director Stachen Frederick welcomed us into the warmth of the clubhouse and described the large variety of programs for young people that are offered. These include a homework club, very popular cooking classes and a summer day camp. This year’s fundraising dinner at the Weston Golf and Country Club was sold out for the first time ever, raising over $20,000 that will help subsidize programming for the next year. Pizza from their cooking program was offered as an incentive to return following the walk.

Frontlines Executive Director Stachen Frederick talking about the extensive programming for youth. (Photo courtesy Cherri Hurst).
Cherie Hurst and Dave Bennett welcome walkers into the Weston Historical Society offices.

After visiting the offices of the Weston Historical Society (WHS) at 1901 Weston Road, Deacon John Frogley Rawlinson outlined the history of Weston Park Baptist Church. The church is involved in a new venture under discussion for several years that will combine church lands with the empty ScotiaBank building that will be preserved as part of the development.

Deacon John Frogley Rawlinson describes the Weston Park Baptist Church development. The mural behind him is of the old Eagle Hotel which once stood at the corner of Weston and Lawrence.

We crossed the road and walked north to 1976 Weston Road to Toronto’s longest running bookstore, Squibbs now celebrating 90 years of continuous operation and 84 years at number 1976. Co-owners, Mike Linsky and Suri Weinberg-Linsky greeted walkers and invited them inside.

At Weston Road and Little Avenue, Mary Louise stopped at the Carrying Place plaque (installed by the WHS) that marks the trail that ran along the Humber for hundreds of years linking Lakes Ontario and Simcoe, eventually hitting navigable water again at the Holland River. That would have been a tough portage as the navigable part of the Humber ended at the present day location of Bloor Street.

Mary Louise Ashbourne stops at  the Carrying Place plaque at Weston Road and Little Avenue. (Photo courtesy Cherri Hurst)

Weston’s old Federal / Post office building has been preserved and is now a medical building that has been equipped to serve the health needs of the community. Dr. James Crumney outlined the history of the building and some of its interesting occupants over the years including an RCMP detachment that kept an eye on postal workers via one-way mirrors.

At Fern avenue and Weston, Jessica Idahosa told the group about St John’s Anglican which is Weston’s oldest church having been in operation since 1856. It is now operated by the Victory Assembly under the leadership of Pastor Felix Ayomike whose congregation started out as a group of five people meeting in a private home. Incidentally, that’s exactly the way St. Johns began in 1856.

Moving along Fern Avenue, the Gardhouse home at 18 Fern and the LeMaire home at 57 George Street were occupied by prominent Westonians at the turn of the 20th Century. The Gardhouse home was saved from demolition as a result of WHS and community intervention.

Heading down George Street, Weston St. John’s School Community Social Planning Council co-chair, Dave Bennett outlined the huge amount of planning and work involved in rebuilding the school that will soon occupy the currently empty site. Because of expropriations needed for the UP Express, St John’s will be able to occupy a bigger site, hold more pupils and have a grass playground for the first time thanks to the Weston Tunnel cover.

Dave Bennett outlines the new St John the Evangelist school to be built on George Street. (Photo courtesy Cherri Hurst)

Heading down George to King Street, Artscape Research and Development Manager, Gil Meslin outlined the new homes and community facilities that will house artists and even the Farmers Market when the new Weston Common is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Gil Meslin describes what the future holds for the Artscape Hub in Weston.

At the junction of King Street and Weston Road, our famous 103 year-old Carnegie Library still stands thanks to community involvement. It is a small but impressive building with is Arts and Crafts style and original detail.

The walk ended all too soon and was an exciting glimpse into the past, present and future of Weston, ending at the mural on the side of the Perfect Blend Cafe which like other such murals in Weston exemplifies the changes in our community over the past few decades.

The walk certainly illustrated that positive changes in Weston have been as a result of direct community involvement in the political process. Much of our history has sadly been lost but much has been preserved thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers.

We can only guess what future murals will look like but then, that’s up to all of us isn’t it?