An evening of home movies shot by people who experienced the horror of Hurricane Hazel is being presented by the Weston Historical Society and Heritage York. The movies from 1954, give an insight, not only into the power of the most famous storm ever to hit Toronto but illustrate lifestyle aspects of Weston’s population some 65 years ago.
According to the WHS,
“On the night of Oct 15 1954 Hurricane Hazel struck Toronto, fatally flooding the Humber river valley (including 35 deaths on one street alone). Home movies shot the next morning showing the damage and the river still in high flood at Weston, are the starting point for our tour through the life and times of the city’s west-end. Local residents captured everything from the danger and high drama of floods, explosions and derailments – to the intimate drama of backyard ice rinks, rec room parties, a first communion filmed by nuns, parades, and the fashions and furnishings of the era.
Organized and presented with the Weston Historical Society and Heritage York. “the Home Movie History Project”.”
Date: Wednesday June 5
Place: The ‘Village of Humber Heights’, 2245 Lawrence Ave W
Showcasing Weston’s history but informing participants of what is new and exciting about Weston will be the main theme of this year’s Walk. With some of it showing the Humber River’s part in Weston’s history and its present contribution to making Weston the place to be. Fourteen stops only begin to show what someone can find in the area. With participants ranging from the BIA to Options for Homes to the Lions Arena this year’s Walk promises to be interesting and informative. There is one downhill slope and one medium size uphill slope. Ramps on and off the bridge. The steps can be avoided by taking a secondary route. This Walk will end in front of the mural on the old fire hall in the parking lot at the corner of Little Avenue and Weston Road.
Weston Historical Society will be holding its General Meeting this Wednesday October 4th. 2017 at The Village of Humber Heights Retirement Home, 2245 Lawrence Avenue West, at 7:30 p.m.
Guest Speaker will be Weston’s own literary success, Antanas Sileika speaking on his latest book, “The Barefoot Bingo Caller“, about his childhood growing up in Weston. Antanas will have copies of his book (along with others he has authored) for sale after the meeting at a cost of $21.00.
Members, Friends, family and anyone interested in joining the WHS are welcome! Refreshments will be served after the meeting!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Talented mural artist Mario Noviello’s work can be seen in Weston by Ward’s parking lot and in Lions Park on the old bridge abutment. Weston Historical Society Treasurer Cherri Hurst tells me that they are seeking his assistance in renovating the Lions Park location which serves as a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Hazel.
Unfortunately Mr. Noviello’s contact information has been lost in the intervening years and Ms Hurst was wondering if any of our readers know where he could be located.
Please contact Adam or myself if you know his contact details and we will forward the information.
Postscript: Cherri Hurst tells me they have located Mr. Noviello. WestonWeb will keep readers posted regarding further work on the memorial.