Is Weston Public Library built with “blood money”?

The Toronto Star has a piece on the history of the Carnegie libraries, including the Weston Public Library, which were built with funds from a robber baron.

“That’s why you don’t really see Carnegie’s name on a lot of the libraries. The agreement was, ‘We’ll take his money but we won’t put his name up,’” said Woodstock Public Library chief executive officer David Harvie, whose library is one of the most architecturally stunning examples of the genre.

Weston’s Carnegie Library that was saved from demolition.

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.

Nunziata votes against youth hubs

Frances Nunziata voted against building 18 youth hubs, including one in Mount Dennis, at City Council this week.

Library
Image from torontopubliclibrary.ca

The hubs already run at 10 libraries across the city. Each costs about $130,000 a year. Included are a dedicated staff member, and “laptops, iPads, MacBooks, digital cameras, DJ equipment, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, gaming equipment (PlayStation, Xbox and Wii), board games, and more!”

They offer homework and employment help, workshops, and a place to de-stress.

According to The Star:

“The youth spaces that exist now have proven to be wildly popular.

A briefing note released by library staff earlier this year showed the number of visits to its youth hubs nearly doubled from 2016. That bump, staff said, is because new hubs became available — meaning the more youth hubs the city built, the more youth showed up.

A 2016 survey of participants found more than 70 per cent felt the program increased their feeling of safety and that they felt comfortable asking staff for help, the briefing note says.”

City Staff developed the plan for 20 new spaces in 2018, a year of record shootings.

The annual Toronto Police budget, by way of comparison, is about $1 billion. The cost of repairing the Gardiner will be about $2.3 billion.

Torontonians pay the second-lowest taxes in the GTA. The average residential tax bill in Toronto was $3906 in 2018; across the GTA it was $4773.

Pop Up Learning Lab in Weston

In other library news, the Pop-Up Learning Lab has arrived in Weston. The PULL has more acronyms and leet-speak than you can shake an Atari controller at: 3D, HD, VR, Arduino, Sphero Sprk+, Mindstorms, and on and on!

Ask your kids. It’s really cool.

The Weston Library will be hosting many classes through March to for people new to programming, robotics, 3D printing, digital art, and film making.

 

 

Marijuana talk tonight at the Mount Dennis Library

The Mount Dennis Library will be hosting a talk tonight called “Not Your Grandad’s Weed: The Forensic Science of Cannabis”. The lecture starts at 7 and should last about an hour.

James Wigmore, an internationally recognized forensic toxicologist and published author who has appeared on CBC Radio Ontario Today, will present a one-hour lecture describing the various types of marijuana including edible cannabis, dabs, and their psychoactive effects and risks including Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.

 

Writing workshop

For the third year running, Westonian Maureen Lennon—a dear friend of the site—will be hosting a writing workshop at the Weston Public Library.

The program begins September 18, and is, I hear from a completely biased source, a ton of fun. Each session is for two hours, and free.

All are invited.

 

A walker’s guide to Weston

An artist’s concept of the Weston Hub showing the outdoor program space.
Beginning early next year, hundreds of people will be moving to Weston as part of the new Weston Hub. A few dozen will move into the 26 artist live / work residences while the vast majority, will rent in the 30 storey, 370 unit tower and podium currently being built by Rockport Group. At the moment, rental prices are unknown but they should be a lot cheaper than renting a condo. Here is a guide for those considering a move to our community and a possible reminder to those already here. Your new address at 22 John Street has a walk score of 90 which, according to the experts qualifies as “a walker’s paradise; daily errands do not require a car”. Walking is a great exercise and has dramatic effects on longevity. Here are a few of the places that are within a short stroll of your new address.

Cultural Hangouts:

The Artscape Weston Hub: as mentioned, 26 artists will be living and working in your immediate neighbourhood along with 8200 square feet of indoor program space, 12,400 feet of outdoor program space; UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action will provide programs for young and old.  Read all about it here.
Weston’s beautiful Art Nouveau library built in 1913.
Housed in a beautiful century building, Weston’s public library was built in 1913 and is one of the libraries originally funded by the Carnegie foundation. This branch has a good variety of activities and opportunities to become involved with the community.
Weston’s outdoor theatre.
A few steps from Weston Road towards the river, there is an outdoor theatre in a beautiful setting on Little Avenue that may see more use now that Shakespeare In Action are relocating here. Weston Historical Society is active, holds regular historical walks and talks and has a base of operations at 1901 Weston Road. Weston has its own Santa Claus Parade. and Buskerfest organized by the BIA.

Restaurants:

Restaurants abound in Weston: a highly recommended burger joint, fish and chips, pizza, Chinese, Jamaican, Phillipine and Somali food, a chicken chain, family and a breakfast specialty chain. There are several independent coffee shops and even a Timmies. A superb Mexican restaurant is within a fifteen-minute walk but don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret. Weston Farmers Market, will be outside your front door every Saturday from May to October.

Retail:

We have few major chains in the heart of Weston; Shoppers Drug Mart being a notable exception, but there are lots of small family owned stores selling a variety of items. Squibbs Stationers has been in Weston since 1927 and is a great place to get school supplies and textbooks. Incidentally, Weston Village has one the the oldest of Toronto’s business improvement areas. There is a large Asian supermarket nearby but it may be closing soon as the site has been purchased by a developer. Shoppers Drug Mart has quite a large grocery section but you’ll need to go elsewhere for produce when the farmers market is not operating.
Greenland Farms produce section.
If you’d like a haircut / style / manicure, there is plenty of choice, including the ‘world famous’ Peter’s Barber Shop on your doorstep. In spite of recent trends to close branches, we still have banks, BMO and RBC with branches close by and Luminus Financial credit union is a 10 minutes walk.

Medical:

There are several family doctors, walk in clinics, testing facilities, opticians and pharmacies, all within easy reach.

Sports and Nature:

Family and friends watch as children from across the GTA take part in a soccer tournament on Weston’s artificial turf soccer pitch.
Dog owners, fisher folk and photographers will be in their element in Weston as the Humber runs to the west.
The Humber river is a few minutes’ walk away.
A cycle / walking trail along the Humber leads through Cruickshank and Lions parks, the latter having lots of sporting facilities – an open air pool in summer, baseball diamonds, a FIFA standard artificial turf soccer pitch, tennis courts, a skateboard park and one of Toronto’s oldest hockey arenas with outstanding french fries.
Weston’s outdoor pool.

Commuting:

The UP Express and GO stations are 5 minutes away and will whisk you downtown in 14 minutes while airport workers will get to Terminal 1 even quicker. Weston is the city’s second biggest bus hub so there are many routes to pick from. So there it is; you truly will be living in a walkers’ paradise. Readers, did I miss anything? Please comment in the section below.