Documentary, ‘Some Sort of Judas’ explores hidden underworld.

Readers may remember that Scarborough-based thug and aspiring rapper Mark Moore killed two young men in Weston in late 2010 causing a great deal of anxiety. TVO is showing a powerful documentary first broadcast in 2017. Entitled, ‘Some Sort of Judas‘, it explores gun and gang culture while referencing the killing spree perpetrated by Mark Moore. The focus is also on Kevin Williams, the man whose testimony brought Moore to justice. It’s told largely from his point of view and judging by the scenery, Williams seems to be living a new life away from Toronto, fearing retribution after his role as an informant.

The documentary explores the cultural conditions that create violent psychopaths like Moore and equally grotesque hangers-on like Williams.

Williams, an allegedly talented rapper; rap name, ‘Mayhem Morearty’, hung around with the violent and unpredictable Moore (both were from the Lawrence Heights area, aka ‘The Jungle’). In an effort to get street cred for his rap efforts, he accompanied Moore on criminal ventures including a jewellery store heist and two killings. In the perverted world of Moore and Williams, killing someone enhances your reputation.

Event timeline:

August 9, 2010: Moore and Williams hold up Arax Jewellers and take $250,000 – $500,000 worth of items (estimates vary). A clerk was shot when hit by a ricocheting bullet. In the documentary, Williams claims that Moore stiffed him when the loot was divided and that’s why he became an informant. So much for honour amongst thieves.

September 10, 2010: Jahmeel Spence 27 shot in Scarborough. Mother Beverly Spence (this was the second of her sons to be murdered) calls Moore a vampire for spilling innocent blood and the excessive number of shots used. In one scene she is shown beside the grave of her two boys, the joint headstone missing Jahmeel’s inscription because of the $3500 cost.

After the Spence murder, Moore is unapologetic and texts Williams, ‘Watch CP24’ Williams does and replies, ‘LOL you’re funny ‘, but in the documentary, claims he was desensitized to violence thanks to his ‘lifestyle’.

September 29, 2010: Courthney Facey 18 and Mike James 23 (not known to police or Moore) are killed here in a Weston laneway on Sept. 29, 2010. Williams is present for the killings but claims he thought he and Moore were only going to the liquor store. He knew something bad was going to happen. The shooting occurs opposite the building where Moore was shot in the face in 2001. Facey’s mother working nearby, hears the commotion and sees her son placed in the ambulance. Ambulance workers tell her not to look at her son as he is disfigured by the shooting.

November 24, 2010: Carl Cole, 45 is standing in the parking lot at the rear of 65 Greenbrae Circuit, Scarborough. Moore and Cole are acquainted. Moore fires 22 shots at him. Cole dies of his injuries.

October 2011: Williams and Moore are arrested. Moore denies everything but Williams agrees to cooperate with police after 45 minutes of questioning.

April 30, 2013: Williams is inexplicably placed in a courthouse cell with Moore while waiting to give evidence against him. Williams leaves on a stretcher instead of testifying.

March 26, 2014: Mark Moore is sentenced to 12 years for the robbery of Arax Jewellers. Williams testifies against Moore and receives a reduced sentence of 10 years.

May 30, 2015: Mark Moore found guilty of four counts of murder based on Williams’ testimony. He was later sentenced to life in prison.

Williams comes from a fatherless background and seems determined to continue the cycle. He participated in a bank robbery at 15 and bought a gun with his share of the proceeds, using it for solo robberies. He talks of leading a Jeckyl and Hyde lifestyle and needed street ‘cred’ for his music so he hung around with Moore. Williams claims he almost felt responsible for the murders and says if he’d known what was about to happen, he wouldn’t have been in the vehicle with Moore. Later in the documentary Williams’ sentence is reduced as a result of testimony against Moore. Williams is asked if he has killed anyone and declines to comment. He now says he regrets his role as an informant.

Some other characters featured during the documentary:

Detective Hank Idsinga talks about the police viewpoint. Williams didn’t want to be considered a snitch but after 45 minutes of questioning tells police it was ‘Sparky’ – Mark Moore.

Boogz is an 18 year-old orphan living a feral lifestyle in Lawrence Heights and says if he goes to jail, he’ll have nothing to worry about because he’s never snitched.

Phil Dixon, community coach in Lawrence Heights knew both Moore and Williams as children and found them to be good kids with talent. Disturbingly, Dixon admits to possessing a gun, ‘for protection’ in his younger years.

Mike James’ mother who after the verdict says, “Kevin Williams is just as guilty as Moore because he didn’t come forward after the first killing”.

Williams’ naive girlfriend is shown pregnant with his child but she neglected to perform the due diligence that would have uncovered Williams’ more salient criminal background details and also three children with three other women. She unsurprisingly finds herself abandoned by him.

Cindy Bonnick mother of Courthney Facey talks of the fear of having a male child in the black community and the worry of raising a son in such an environment, being harassed by police, other males or killed randomly.

Moore is now serving life in prison for the four counts of murder plus an additional six years for the jailhouse assault on Williams.

The documentary is a depressing, disturbing and compelling look at lives that many children and adults lead here in Toronto. Making connections with children who are abandoned by their parent(s) would be the urgent takeaway from this powerful documentary and one that should be a top priority. How those connections are made depends on the determination of our politicians and community leaders.

We need to remember that these violent and psychopathic criminals begin their lives as innocent children.

Everyone should see this compelling  documentary. It was first shown last year but there are two more chances to see it this month on TVO:

Sunday June 17, 11:00 pm and Monday June 18, 4:00 am

It’s also available online here.

Prehistoria Museum is so cool

Mount Dennis has the coolest museum in Toronto. InsideToronto profiled them this week.

Prehistoria is a museum devoted to weird and wonderful artifacts from around the world, and its sister store sells many of them, including  cave bear molars, beaver teeth, and human bones and brains. If you’ve ever wanted to own an “overmodelled human skull from the Iatmul peoples of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea”, you may only get one chance.

Prehistoria is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from noon until 6 at 1193 Weston Road.

 

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?

Weston Silver Band wins big in U.S.

On March 11, the Weston Silver Band competed in the annual North American Brass Band Championships and were judged to be best of ten bands in the First Section (think divisions) winning a gold medal. WSB was the only Canadian entry out of 33 other bands. In 2013 the band placed top in the Second Section; the first Canadian band to do so.

The Band celebrates its win.
Weston Silver Band at the North American Brass Band Championships, held in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 11, 2017.

The Weston Silver Band has an interesting history. Before immigrating to Canada, George Sainsbury, started a band in the U.K which survives to this day. Once he arrived in our neck of the woods, he formed what began as the Weston Boy’s Band in 1921 and has flourished ever since, keeping its Weston links by performing annually in the Weston Santa Claus Parade. Although at the present time there are no members who live in Weston, the band is very proud of its roots in the Weston community and keeps extensive archives of its history. Practices are still held locally every week at the Salvation Army’s York Community Church on 1100 Weston Road in Mount Dennis. The band began to draw musicians from further and further afield from Weston beginning in the late 1970s.

For their upcoming performances, click here.

Band Manager Theresa MacDonald kindly sent me some archival photos of WSB that illustrate its proud Weston heritage.

George Sainsbury and his wife.
The original Weston Boys Band in 1921 at the C.N.E.
Weston Boys Band 1924- Music Director George Sainsbury, Taken at Dr. Irwin’s Estate on Little Ave, in Weston.

Theresa tells me that when the band played in Gravenhurst last year, George Sainsbury’s grandson approached them with a music case belonging to the founder. This treasured item is now stored with the many trophies and other memorabilia gathered over the years.

The original music case belonging to George Sainsbury.
Weston Silver Band 1951 – Music Director Horace Sainsbury, Little Park, Weston.
Weston Silver Band 1960 – Music Director Wallace Mason -C.N.E Winners Class I All Brass, Best Performance, Highest Marks of All Bands, Gold Medal Cornet Solo – Jim Alexander, Gold Medal Euphonium – Ken Martin
** The band has all these shields and trophies in their archives, as well as uniforms etc.

BIA planning multicultural festival

The Weston BIA is looking for your help with their annual multicultural festival. The BIA would like community groups and organizations to show their support for the festival with a letter they can use to apply for grants.

“We’re doing this because it’s Canada 150th,” O’Sullivan said. “Right now there’s been so much said about divisiveness in our society because of all the stuff that Trump is saying and doing. We’re a very united community here and we want people to know that we welcome everyone.”

You can reach Marion at [email protected]