Open for business

Premier Doug Ford has returned from Florida with some new inspiration provided by Canada’s ‘11th province’. Doug seems to take his cultural lead from either Chicago where Deco Labels has a branch plant, or his Florida compound (Mar a Fordo?). According to rumours, the premier wants to truly make his mark on Ontario by re-jigging our licence plate motto. Some of us oldies can remember when it was ‘KEEP IT BEAUTIFUL’ and then the current, ‘YOURS TO DISCOVER’. Hell, I can even remember when we had to change the damned plates every year – everybody at the same time, front and back – in the middle of winter! Imagine the line-up at the liquor store on Christmas Eve – changing plates was similar, except people had to line-up outside and there was no booze at the end.

The trial balloon floated on Friday indicates that Mr. Ford is keen to change the slogan to a more capitalist, ‘OPEN FOR BUSINESS’. He also wants to get rid of that pesky front licence plate (just like Florida). One immediate benefit will be to give parking officers a little more in the way of exercise.

Perhaps readers can help Mr Ford come up with a better and more creative slogan for our car’s er, plate. Kindly place your suggestions in the comments section here, or on Facebook. Remember to keep it beautiful clean.

And finally

It’s been a fun photographic evening on WestonWeb. One more to go, with an an idea almost as old as the bike.

The photo below just appeared on the Toronto Public Library’s excellent photo stream. It shows Mike Barry, the recently-deceased father of Canadian cycling, riding a penny farthing.

From the TPL

The caption is:

Home of the bicycle: “Mike Barry rides a penny farthing, built in the late 1800s. Some Weston residents are hoping Weston will one day have a national cycling museum and hall of fame.”

The photo, and the article it accompanied, are from 1988.

30 years ago, the Weston BIA hatched a plan, hosted the first (and probably last) Weston Criterium, and started working on a mobile museum. They christened Weston “the home of the bicycle” and hoped to have a permanent museum underway within four years.

Clearly, it didn’t work.

But you know, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.

I think a cycling museum and hall of fame in Weston is a damned fine idea. Canada has a fine history of bike building and racing–and some of the best bikes in the world are still made here–but I don’t think there’s a proper museum anywhere in the country.

Norco, CCM, Rocky Mountain, Devinci, Mariposa and Cervélo are all Canadian brands, as are Cannondale, GT and Schwinn.

And bikes are beautiful. Sure, I’m a little biased, but I’d visit. Am I crazy?

Astonishing historical letters

The Weston Historical Society posted a link to The Canadian Letters and Images Project, which preserves letters from soldiers serving abroad.

One group of letters is from Bert Irwin, who was born in Weston. Irwin enlisted in 1915, and his brief letters are sad, occasionally charming, and completely terrifying. You must read them.

Irwin never seems to have believed in glory and honour of war. In a letter from what he calls “Hell” (his family looks to have added “Somme” to the top of the page letter, in pen) only four months into his time in Europe, he tells his parents, on small, pencilled pages, about a few of the things he has seen:

A big High explosive came near me and the flash and powder kind of got my goat and I thought I saw a big hole. I floundered into it on my head and it was only about a foot deep. I was like an ostrich then trying to bury my head in the mud. Just as I hit the bottom a big “dud” unexploded shell came over my shoulder half burying me. When I got back down the line to the old position it was all torn up but one dug out and two fellows were wounded and one shell shocked. I thought I was due for that but I didnt get it. I dont make any bones about saying Im darn scared of shells and anyone who says differently hasnt been there. Yesterday I was filling sand bags and I noticed a mule team on the cusp of the hill. The drivers were dismounted and seemed to be lost. I said to a fellow beside me, “They hadnt better stay there long” Just as said it a shell lit behind the waggon and scared them. They mounted and started off at the trot. I thought to myself “they’re getting out lucky” when a big fritz came shrieking down right into the centre of them. Five mules and two drivers were blown completely The other mule stood there and “hee hawd.” One leg was blown off. Somebody ran over and shot him.

These are the things he would share with his mother.

Irwin survived the Battle of the Somme–as well as Passchendaele and Vimy–and stayed at the front for two more years.


It wasn’t all horror. In June of 1918, Irwin wrestled another Canadian, and took joy in the licking he received:

I was in a wrestling bout for the Brigade yesterday. Went up against a fellow from B.C. who had one time been middleweight champion of Canada (I found this out after) Well I’m not ashamed to say he trimmed me up because he had the Science. All I’ve got is an imposing pose. I had him beat in that anyhow… I stuck it out for another round after that but he got me in the finish. So, bar having a lump on my forehead like an egg and a feeling all over like Id been skinned alive with a razor I dont feel too bad.

He was also arrested in Bologne for impersonating a sergeant so that he could ride in a better carriage.


In the last letters he wrote, he describes being hit.

He seems relieved–and seems to even wish his old friend, Cecil, who carried him to the dressing station–had been hit, too. ” I hope Cecil doesn’t get it”, he says. “I hated to see him go back.”

In the last sentence, of the last letter, he says, “I am in a fine hospital and am going to take my time getting better.”

Just another reason for optimism

Marion from the BIA sent along a bit of news I hadn’t heard: the Greater Toronto Airports Authority is working on a plan to make the Pearson airport area “Union Station West”—a second major hub for jobs and transit.

According to the GTAA, the airport alone employs 49,000 people, and the number is growing very fast. A further 250,000 people work in the area, making it the second-largest employment zone in Canada.¹ Yet almost 95% of the workers get there by car—and it’s a death zone for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

The GTAA is looking to fix that by building Toronto’s second major transit hub, just outside Terminals 1 and 3. This should improve commutes, draw employers, and smooth transit through the region.

What business is this of WestonWeb? Have a look at the map.

One of the seven transit routes planned to link up at Union Station West² currently makes it there: the UPX. We have a monopoly on commuter rail. Better, though: Three of the seven planned lines will stop in Weston or Mount Dennis.

Sure, it’s a dream right now, but as Union Station West grows, Weston and Mount Dennis are perfectly placed to be bedroom communities. A quick hop on a comfy, uncongested train could take you to your job uptown.


¹ I have my doubts about that last bit.

² They’re going to need another name.

Interesting house for sale

49 Church Street. From Zoocasa

We’ve all seen this house, uncomfortably close to the CP tracks with a fascinating Grand Trunk Railway, Weston Station mural on the side. The image by Michele Van Maurik, is now showing its age, having withstood the elements for over 20 years by the tracks at 49 Church Street. The house is advertised on various agents’ sites but the most complete set of images seems to be on Zoocasa.

Because of the lack of details on the house itself, I assume that the value is in the site. The 73 x 165-foot lot has its longer side along the tracks.

Looking north alongside the tracks. From Zoocasa.

It’s advertised at $499,000.

Update: Thanks to a reader who comments that the house next door at 51 Church Street is also for sale. It’s being offered at $599,000. This would combine to give a lot measuring 99 x 155 feet (approximately).

Options For Homes: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston.

Options for homes has written an article entitled, ’10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston’. It’s a nice tribute to the area where they will be erecting a 22-storey, 233 unit building at 10 Wilby Crescent.

Read the article here.

Readers, do  you agree? What did they miss? I’d like to correct the 15 minute time to Union – it’s actually 14 minutes and while we’re timing things, 11 to Pearson and only 6 minutes to Bloor.

The Masonic Building at 2040 Weston Road. (Google Maps)

Personally, I’m fascinated by the mysterious Mason’s building at 2040 Weston Road. I’d love to get a tour one day.

Best french fries in Weston / Mount Dennis?

From Wikipedia.

I’m on a quest to find the best french fries and I need your help dear readers. French fries are my guilty pleasure. They’re packed with calories, have way too much fat and salt and probably shorten our lives but who cares? Good fries are worth it.

There aren’t that many variables in creating good fries. The type of potato is important, the fat or oil has an influence, how they’re cooked (once, twice etc.) and at what temperature as well as seasonings added before or after cooking.

The mark of a good fry is that it can be eaten on its own without too much ketchup, vinegar or mayo. My wife insists that the best fries in the world are sold at just about any food joint inside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. While I have to agree, it would be nice to find some just as good here.

We’ve quite a few places to choose from when it comes to local fries but quality seems to vary. If you go to P&M’s, you can be sure to get fresh cut fries and lots of them. Close by, Zeal Burger has great fries; especially with the ‘Z Sauce’ that Mark makes. Golden Crisp in Mount Dennis gets good reviews. Local political activist Riley Peterson insists that the fries at Weston Lions Arena are the best by far.

As a community service, readers are invited to share where the best local fries are. We are excluding chains like MacDonalds which add things like beef flavour and dextrose (a form of sugar) to their fries.

So dear readers; where are the best local fries? Please share. As part of my personal mission, I’ll be trying some at the arena this Saturday to see if the rumours are true.

Sad Postscript: Weston Lions Arena is closed until October. I went round there today and they are melting the ice.

Here are some of the comments from WestonWeb’s FaceBook account.