Bonus Features: Ontario’s hockey-star MP

Before diving into this post, check out my TVO article about Red Kelly’s political career.

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From the Toronto Star Archives at the Toronto Public Library comes this picture by Frank Grant of the Kellys entering Parliament in 1962. The description: “There’s overtime in this league. Parliamentary rookie Red Kelly, flanked by a pair of Mounties, discusses House opening with wife, the former skating star Andra McLaughlin, before entering Parliament. Leaf hockey star is M.P. for York West.”

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Toronto Star, May 19, 1962.

The roster of Liberal candidates in Metropolitan Toronto during the 1962 election campaign. Among those depicted here are three future finance ministers (Gordon, Macdonald, and Sharp), two defence ministers (Hellyer and Macdonald) and a minister of state for multiculturalism (Haidasz).

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Globe and Mail, May 5, 1962.

The Globe and Mail‘s editorial on Kelly’s candidacy. While the paper’s editorial page would continue to criticize Kelly for continuing his hockey career, its sports pages cheered him on. “Why all this criticism of a professional athlete working at his job?” sports editor Jim Vipond wrote in his January 9, 1963 column. “Is this to insinuate that the lawyers, doctors, insurance agents, brokers, farmers, teachers and representatives of a baker’s dozen other professions and businesses in the House of Commons completely submerge their private interests in the public welfare? It’s a lovely thought but outside the cabinet not a realistic one. A bit of an Alice in Wonderland touch.”

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Maclean’s, June 2, 1962

When a reporter told Pearson on election night that Kelly had won York West, the Liberal leader replied, “Yes, wait till I see [Maclean’s editor] Blair Fraser.”

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Toronto Star, June 6, 1962.

Here’s Kelly’s response to the Maclean’s piece.

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Sports Illustrated, December 3, 1962.

Sports Illustrated published a three-page profile of Kelly as he settled into his parliamentary duties. Writer Arlie W. Schardt asked Maple Leafs coach/general manager Punch Imlach if he questioned Kelly’s decision to balance hockey and politics. “Sure, I had my doubts,” Imlach replied. “My theory is that a man can’t serve two masters. Red’s getting old. I felt he needed every possible day of rest and training. Instead, he missed part of training camp, where all kinds of rookies were making a beeline for him, anyway. They figured they’d take his spot because an old man would injure easier. No respect for our MPs, you see.”

Lester B. Pearson playing baseball with Red Kelly at Coronation Park in Oakville

Lester B. Pearson playing baseball with Red Kelly at Coronation Park in Oakville, May 9, 1962. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 563, File 31, Item 1.

In his memoirs, Lester Pearson reflected on campaigning with Kelly during the 1963 election campaign:

While motoring from one meeting to another, we noticed some youngsters playing ball in a vacant lot. We both thought it would be fun, and might interest our press entourage, if we stopped for a few minutes to watch. We also stopped the game because Red was soon recognized, and was surrounded by excited youngsters clamoring for his autograph.

He was somewhat embarrassed that no one took any notice of me, and asked one small boy, happily contemplating Red’s signature: “Don’t you want Mr. Pearson’s too?” The reply put me in my place: “Mr. Pearson? Who’s he?”

Even as prime minister, I had to accept that in the autograph market it would take five “L.B. Pearsons” to get one “Red Kelly.” My sporting experience helped me to accept this evaluation.

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Toronto Star, April 9, 1963.

Throughout the 1962 and 1963 election campaigns, NDP candidate David Middleton constantly attacked Kelly for riding on his fame, being inexperienced, and not putting 100% of himself into his political duties. Middleton’s reaction to his second consecutive third place finish seems a little melodramatic. His 2010 obituary outlines an active life.

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Toronto Star, October 18, 1967.

During the 1963 federal election campaign, Alan Eagleson attacked Kelly for being an absentee MP. Later that year, he became an MPP for the provincial riding of Lakeshore. Based on this article, it seems Eagleson may have had his own attendance issues during the period in which he became the first director on the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Based on Kelly’s account, Eagleson was not a gracious competitor during the 1963 race for York West. “I heard years later that Eagleson purposely sought the Conservative nomination in York West just to beat me!,” he recalled in The Red Kelly Story. “I never heard a peep from Eagleson that night, not a word. He never called, conceded, said congratulations, nothing.”

Maclean’s Super-Amazing Captain Toronto Section

Originally published as a “Historicist” column by Torontoist on January 7, 2012.

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It’s common knowledge that Toronto isn’t the most popular city amongst the rest of the country. Something about a superior attitude or being the centre of the universe. It’s a long-held belief, and one that Maclean’s was willing to exploit when it devoted a section of its April 1972 issue to the city. While the headlines promised pages of full-on hatred for the city to attract readers looking for more reasons to despise Toronto, reading on revealed varying degrees of admiration for Canada’s fastest-growing city.

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After reading Peter C. Newman’s editorial, a glowing portrait of Toronto didn’t appear imminent. “In this issue,” Newman wrote, “we devote nine pages to proving that, while it may be a great city to live in, Toronto is a terrible place to contemplate.” Most of Newman’s piece concerned the upcoming federal election, during which he believed that the rest of Canada would “comfort themselves with the realization that general elections can be great equalizers,” as the GTA was only represented by 24 of the 264 seats to be contested.

Under the headline “Keeping Toronto Hateful,” the special section’s introduction listed the city’s contradictions, including some that linger on:

Toronto, the city that Canada despises, spreads its arrogance over 240 square miles. It is the financial, fashion, art, industrial, communications and Muzak capital of the nation; not to mention the fastest-growing city in the world. It dispassionately dispenses pay cheques, trends, culture, praise, punishment, entertainment, success, cynicism, predestiny and other assorted imperishable goods to a nation that has to be grateful whether it likes it or not. More New York Times are sold on Sunday in Toronto than any other city in Canada. Yet the Toronto Telegram, the country’s fourth largest newspaper, was forced to fold. Toronto hates losers. Yet the Leafs and the Argos are classic losers. Toronto contains more Americans within its limits than any other city in the country and is the most American city outside of the United States.

Many of the decisions to sell domestic industry and natural resources to outside interests are made in boardrooms high above Lake Ontario. Yet Toronto is the birthplace of the New Canadian Nationalism. Toronto identified itself with the Big Apple more than any other centre in North America (including Chicago). Yet Toronto is still a bastion of English colonialism. Toronto is the most materialistic city in the country (its per capita Cadillac ownership is among the highest in the world), yet when Henry Moore’s Archer was unveiled 10,000 people turned out to cheer. Toronto is adding the equivalent of 11 football fields in new factory space every year. Yet the city’s welfare department is running out of funds. Torontonians foster the theory that Canadians have an inferiority complex. Yet people in Toronto are constantly terrified about losing their jobs. Toronto elected Mayor William Dennison twice in a row. Yet Toronto loves to say he is an embarrassment.

The question inevitably arises: how and why does any sensitive Canadian continue to live in such a rotten place?

Readers were advised that they would “know thy enemy.”

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On the newsstands around the same time as this issue of Maclean’s: Incredible Hulk #152, with a cover pencilled by Captain Toronto artist Herb Trimpe and inked by John Severin.

Along the bottom of the following six pages were the adventures of Captain Toronto, which poked fun at the attitudes of some Torontonians toward the city’s reputation for cleanliness. Though no writer was credited, the strip was drawn by American comic book artist Herb Trimpe, then in the midst of a seven-year run illustrating the adventures of the Incredible Hulk.

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The headline for the first article in the section, Bill Howell’s “End of the Road,” declared that Toronto was “the city of highest paid losers in Canada.” The piece failed to live up to that claim, despite noting that it took longer to escape Toronto by car than any other city in the country, and a lengthy description of new apartment towers (likely in St. James Town and the suburbs) evocative of recent fears of the future evolution of CityPlace:

They have tiny balconies, gestures that from a distance look like chest-of-drawer handles. They also have paper-thin walls, waiting rooms no one waits in, broken-down clothes dryers, exorbitant rents, Big Brother intercoms, and they’re built for New Torontonians, careerists who have come to the Big City to confront the Beast in its lair.

Howell admitted that he liked Toronto more every time he returned from an extended break. He appreciated the small pleasures the city offered, from a restaurant on Ossington that showed diners how to cook well to residents signing a petition to preserve trees downtown.

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Next up was “The Bush League Complex” by Sun columnist McKenzie Porter. The article outlined Porter’s views on the Toronto high society types he had covered for years in the Telegram and their ability to shock other writers expecting primness by tossing around four-letter words without regret. Porter offered the following tips on climbing Hogtown’s social ladder, many of which are still useful in social situations:

Dress soberly and expensively. Be sexy with subtlety. Speak firmly and clearly. Never mumble. Be lighthearted and quick to laugh. Listen intently to other speakers and butt in only when you have something compelling to say. Flatter other speakers by asking them questions that prolong their own line of talk. Never be pushy for introductions. Intrigue important strangers by catching their eye for a moment and smiling courteously. Do not be afraid to say “I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.” Never try to assess a person’s status by asking him where he lives. Never talk about yourself until you are invited to do so with questions. Never drop names. Never gossip about anybody who is unknown to one or more persons in your immediate group. Never talk about children, travel, homes, or business unless somebody else opens the topic. Offer to work, if a suitable opening occurs, for cultural or charitable institutions. Buy all the tickets you can afford for the great society gatherings.

Porter’s final words of wisdom? “Do not feel ashamed of social climbing or attempt to conceal such ambitions. You are a primate.”

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The final article, Barrie Hale’s “Welcome to the Middle-Class Capital of the World,” focused on Toronto’s attraction to the 10 million tourists who descended upon the city each year, specifically American visitors who loved Toronto for the reasons suburban Detroit resident Mrs. J. Rudniak outlined in a letter to the Star:

My husband and I have just returned from a trip to Toronto and feel we should take the time to write and compliment your Mayor, William Dennison, on his many fine achievements. We were truly impressed by the amount of building construction going on in the downtown area. Moreover, we were delighted to see the use of flowers, trees and water by everyone—whether city buildings, individual homes or businesses; the well-kept older homes and buildings; the cleanliness of all areas, new or old; the beaches along the lakeshore, easily accessible to everyone; and even more importantly, the number of people both young and old, of all ethnic backgrounds, strolling at night in all parts of the city. This is what makes a city live—when its inhabitants are out on a warm night enjoying their city. Keep up the good work; we look forward to our next visit.

To Hale, tourists like Mrs. Rudniak were comfortable in a city where the middle class didn’t feel threatened by the social decay they perceived at home. Toronto’s safety, prosperity, and progressiveness were reassuring—they could admire a Mies van der Rohe–designed building like the Toronto-Dominion Centre without the (justified or not) fear of a mugging while viewing his works in Chicago or New York, or explore an ethnic neighbourhood without worrying if a riot would break out.

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As for the future, Hale touched on the fears expressed by urban affairs experts that continued construction of expressways and high-rises would destroy the mosaic of neighbourhoods that visitors enjoyed. The increased power of citizen groups and resident associations was noted, as was the support that still existed among some councillors to revive the Spadina Expressway. These were the concerns that dominated Toronto politics for the rest of the 1970s, especially after a large number of reformers were elected to city council in December 1972.

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We’ll leave Captain Toronto at the bar, drowning his sorrows following the tragic combination of stepping in doggie-doo and missing a taping of Elwood Glover’s Luncheon Date. None of his grumbling earned pity from the rest of the country.

Additional information from the August 19, 1971 edition of the Toronto Star.