Toronto Cemetery Sojourns: Park Lawn

As Halloween approaches, we are surrounded by images of death. Most focus on the ghoulish aspects, from bony skeletons to creepy tombstones with punny names for the deceased. But the mock graveyards decorating residential lawns bear little resemblance to Toronto’s real cemeteries. Instead of depressing, scary final resting places, these spaces are full of life.

During the Halloween seasons in 2011 and 2012, I wrote a series of articles for Torontoist on the city’s cemeteries. This year I’m mixing those pieces with updates and new stories. This piece was originally published on Torontoist on November 2, 2012.

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Nestled south of Bloor Street between the Kingsway and Bloor West Village, Park Lawn Cemetery fits nicely with the green parks lining the Humber River. You could spend hours wandering its grounds and enjoying the flora and fauna.

History

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Park Lawn Cemetery entrance, circa 1941. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 460.

The graveyard opened in 1892 as Humbervale Cemetery. Funding came from stock sales, with many of the shares held by local farmers. The cemetery was sold in 1912 to a purchaser who promised to maintain the graveyard, but whose true intentions were to transform the property, including the sections occupied by the dead, into a subdivision.

Several former shareholders formed the Humbervale Cemetery Defence Association to, according to the Star, “prevent any desecration of the property.” One defender pleaded with the paper to publicize their battle, which had made little impression on local politicians. “I beg of you for the sake of humanity to give this cause a place in your columns,” the anonymous letter writer wrote, “for if this deal is allowed to go through, with the sanction of one of the highest office in the land, then it means that no place, however sacred, is safe from the attack of the vandal and the land shark, and our boasted civilization is myth.”

The cemetery’s defenders were victorious. The property was sold in 1915 to the Park Lawn Cemetery Company, who gave the site its current name.

Grounds

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Park Lawn is almost completely covered by a canopy of trees, making it a beautiful place to wander on a fall day. Instead of private crypts and extensive landscaping, it has an attractive natural beauty that appeals to humans and other large animal species.

Notable Names

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A large number of Toronto sports figures rest here. Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe probably still curses fellow Park Lawn resident Harold Ballard for removing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from Maple Leaf Gardens to install more seating, soon after Ballard bought the team. And there likely aren’t any kind words exchanged between Smythe and Harvey “Busher” Jackson, one-third of the Leafs’ “Kid Line” during the 1930s. For years, Smythe blocked Jackson’s election to the Hockey Hall of Fame, because of Jackson’s supposed character flaws. When voters overlooked Jackson’s alcoholism and womanizing to admit him in 1971, Smythe resigned his presidency of the Hall of Fame. Smythe’s beyond-the-grave battles are probably being chronicled by Lou Marsh, the Star sports editor whose name graces the trophy awarded annually to Canada’s best athlete.

Other notables include writer/broadcaster Gordon Sinclair, politicians Stanley Haidasz and John MacBeth, and musician Jeff Healey.

Favourite Spots

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Park Lawn is a prime spot for the local Polish and Eastern European community’s observations of All Saints Day. The grounds were filled this week with those placing flowers and lit candles on the graves of loved ones.

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We were charmed by a tombstone resembling a building. Other markers commemorate first dates and remind the living that “a man rarely succeeds at anything unless he has fun doing it.”

Sources: Etobicoke From Furrow to Borough by Esther Hayes (Etobicoke: The Borough of Etobicoke, 1974), and the October 21, 1913 and June 24, 1914 editions of the Toronto Star.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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Letter to editor, Toronto Star, June 24, 1914.

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Toronto Star, July 7, 1914.

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.”

Gordie Howe and Dave Keon’s Halloween Return to Maple Leaf Gardens

Originally published on Torontoist on June 10, 2016.

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1979-80 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards of Gordie Howe and Dave Keon.

While costumed ghouls and goblins wandered the streets of Toronto Halloween night 1979, hockey fans enjoyed tricks and treats of their own at Maple Leaf Gardens. Two hockey legends returned to the building for the first time in years, making the Leafs’ 4-2 loss to the Hartford Whalers palatable. For 51-year-old Gordie Howe, who passed away this morning, it was an early stop in his year-long farewell tour around the NHL. For 39-year-old Dave Keon, it was a return to venue he’d left under bitter circumstances.

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Globe and Mail, July 6, 1970.

While “Mr. Hockey” never played for the Leafs during his 32-year career, Howe served as a sporting goods adviser for Eaton’s, prompting plenty of personal appearances at the department store’s local outlets during the 1960s and 1970s. This apparently bothered Detroit Red Wings management after Howe ended a brief retirement to join his sons Mark and Marty on the World Hockey Association’s Houston Aeros in 1973. When Howe cited one of his reasons for returning to the ice as boredom with his desk job with the Red Wings—he felt like a mushroom patch, kept in a dark room until it was time to throw more manure on him—Detroit exec Jimmy Skinner complained that Howe spent too much time working for Eaton’s.

When the Whalers were added to the NHL in 1979, Howe maintained a hectic pace as the public and media fixated on the ageless wonder during his final season. “Overall, all the attention I’m getting isn’t getting to me,” he told the Globe and Mail. “It’s easier to stickhandle your way through an interview than a young, eager hockey player…I’m playing this season because it’s enjoyable going through the circuit again.”

Howe was particularly pleased about stopping in Toronto because the return of Keon to the Gardens allowed him to share the spotlight. Keon was less excited, having left Toronto unceremoniously four years earlier after a 15-year run with the Leafs. During the 1974-75 season, owner Harold Ballard consistently dumped on his team captain, accusing him of being uncooperative with the media and failing to provide leadership to younger players. When that season ended, Keon became a free agent. Ballard showed little interest in bringing him back. “Keon is free to make a deal for himself anywhere,” Ballard told the Globe and Mail’s Dick Beddoes. “You hate to see players like Keon go, but I don’t need to be hit on the head with a sledgehammer to understand reality. We need big young legs. It’s nuts to fall in love with a racehorse because sometime he has to die.”

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Globe and Mail, October 31, 1979.

Because rules at the time required other NHL teams to provide compensation to the Leafs for signing Keon, and suspicions Ballard was asking for too much, Keon had few options but to jump over to the WHA. After stints with the Minnesota Fighting Saints and the Indianapolis Racers, Keon joined the Whalers midway through the 1976-77 season. Keon’s bitterness over his departure from Toronto was apparent whenever the subject arose in interviews—soon after joining the Whalers, he vowed never to set foot in Maple Leaf Gardens ever again.

But his bitterness wasn’t enough to prevent Keon from playing on Halloween 1979. “I have no bad feelings towards the players,” he noted. “I’m looking forward to it, but playing against the Leafs will be different.”

The game was sweet for both veterans. “Sure somebody, somewhere, scripted the hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens last night to embarrass Harold Ballard,” the Star’s Jim Kernaghan noted the next day. Besides Ballard’s treatment of Keon, the obnoxious owner refused to acknowledge Howe’s 1,000th professional goal on the Gardens’ message board in 1977 because he utterly loathed the WHA. Keon received three standing ovations from Toronto fans, while several fan banners welcomed him back. He responded by providing a goal and an assist in the Whalers 4-2 victory over the Leafs. “The response from fans was great,” he noted after the game, “This ranks up there with some of the biggest thrills of my life. It’s the kind of thing you hope for, but doesn’t always happen.”

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“Howe blast. Mark Howe (5) of Hartford Whalers watches puck just shot by his father, Gordie (behind Mark) on its way into the Toronto net in National Hockey League action at Maple Leaf Gardens last night. Goal came in third period and was the 789th regular-season NHL marker for Gordie and his third for Whalers this season. Maple Leafs’ defenceman Borje Salming lies on ice after making futile attempt to stop the whistling drive. Whalers shocked Leafs by winning: 4-2.” Photo by Doug Griffin, originally published in the November 1, 1979 edition of the Toronto Star. Toronto Public Library, Toronto Star Photo Archive, tspa_0055784f.

Howe, assisted by his son Mark, sent a 30-foot wrist shot past goalie Mike Palmateer to give the Whalers their final goal of the evening. Howe claimed getting back at Ballard had nothing to do with his goal. ‘It’s just great to score one and it was particularly nice that it was Mark who tipped the puck to me,” he told the Star. “Hell, Harold’s good for the game. He yelps a lot and pays good salaries.”

Both teams moved on to the Whalers’ temporary home in Springfield, Massachusetts two nights later, where two goals from Howe helped the Whalers deliver the Leafs their fifth defeat in a row. The Star’s punny headline screamed “Those Howe-itzers again blast Leafs.”

Howe’s final game at the Gardens occurred on February 16, 1980, which the Leafs won 5-3. Howe failed to score on four shots, including one barely stopped by Toronto defenceman Borje Salming. When goalie Jiri Crha learned that in his debut game he had temporarily stopped Howe’s pursuit of his 800th NHL goal, the Leafs netminder said “this win means even more now.” In Howe’s final game against the Leafs in Hartford on April Fools’ Day 1980, he showed his eternal toughness by earning a 10-minute misconduct penalty with 37 seconds left to go in the match after knocking over a linesman while pursuing the puck.

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Toronto Star, February 16, 1980.

Keon continued playing until 1982. His bitterness towards the Leafs remained in retirement, as he refused official overtures from the team for decades. “It was clear Keon had great pride in his Leafs career,” broadcasting and former Fighting Saints coach Harry Neale told writer Dave Bidini several years ago. Neale summarized, after a pause, Keon’s feelings as “heartbroken.” But Keon has appeared at Leafs events in recent years, and will be honoured alongside other team greats with a statue to be unveiled in Legends Row this October.

Additional material from Keon and Me by Dave Bidini (Toronto: Penguin, 2013); the February 7, 1974, July 10, 1975, December 3, 1977, October 31, 1979, November 1, 1979, and April 2, 1980 editions of the Globe and Mail; and the July 15, 1975, November 1, 1979, November 3, 1979, and February 17, 1980 editions of the Toronto Star.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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Photo by Doug Griffin, 1975. Toronto Public Library, Toronto Star Photo Archive, tspa_0055785f.

While browsing the Toronto Public Library’s archive of Toronto Star photos, found this gem from Howe’s WHA days. The caption’s prediction of Howe’s retirement was premature: “Hero worship: Mayor David Crombie (centre) and Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey appear properly awe-inspired at pre-game ceremony honoring Gordie Howe at Maple Leaf Gardens last night. Howe played what was probably his last regular season game in Toronto and was in top form as his Houston Aeros beat Toros: 5-2. The two civic dignitaries received autographed sticks and Toros’ sweaters.”

That Other Time the Leafs Let Go of Randy Carlyle

Originally published on Torontoist on January 7, 2015.

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1978/79 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards.

Maple Leafs management felt optimistic during the 1978 off-season. A loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the semi-finals was the longest Stanley Cup run Toronto enjoyed since hoisting the trophy in 1967. General manager Jim Gregory and coach Roger Neilson believed the team was a defenceman or two away from becoming a legitimate contender.

Of the two defence-bolstering deals the Leafs made in June 1978, one went down as one of the worst deals in franchise history. It also marked the first time Randy Carlyle, who was fired as the Leafs’ coach yesterday, departed the team.

Drafted 30th overall in the 1976 NHL entry draft, Carlyle sparked a bidding war between the Leafs and the Cincinnati Stingers of the World Hockey Association. Alternating between Toronto and its farm club in Dallas over the next two seasons, he clashed with Neilson in both cities over his rushing style. “Roger was always on his ass,” teammate Jim McKenny told the Globe and Mail in 2014. “Roger would give him hell about going with the puck.” Though not Neilson’s ideal player, Carlyle gained much knowledge from him, and would later use Neilson’s drills during his own coaching career.

Meanwhile, the financially shaky Pittsburgh Penguins shopped around star defenceman Dave Burrows. A GTA native and two-time all-star, Burrows was one of the best skaters in the league during his seven-year stint in Pittsburgh. Burrows compensated for a modest physical presence with skill, especially agility and speed, making him the sort of player a Stanley Cup contender desired. Never mind that injuries he suffered during the 1977/78 season were cited as a factor in the Penguins’ failure to reach the playoffs.

Negotiations to bring Burrows to Toronto began after the Leafs were eliminated from the Stanley Cup race. Penguins general manager Baz Bastein wanted Carlyle, who was impressive filling in for Borje Salming during the playoffs. “Carlyle is the one guy who had to be involved or there wouldn’t have been any trade,” he told the Pittsburgh Press after the deal was announced on June 13, 1978. Besides Carlyle, the Penguins received forward George Ferguson, who observers believed had never reached his scoring potential over six seasons with the Leafs.

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Globe and Mail, November 4, 1978.

Burrows welcomed the news. “Toronto is on the way up and I feel they have a lot of direction there,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He appreciated the Leafs’ efforts to build for the future, as opposed to Pittsburgh’s panic-driven trades. Asked about the differences between fans in both cities, Burrows was blunt: “In Pittsburgh, the people who criticized hockey didn’t know anything about hockey. But here, if you play bad, you’re not fooling anybody. You can’t hide it. I don’t think I could have come to any better team, but if playing in Toronto goes to your head, it could be the worst thing that ever happens to you.”

Carlyle learned about the deal while dining at a Chinese restaurant in the Sudbury area. Sore feelings and questioning why it happened troubled Carlyle for years. “It hurt,” he told the Star in 2013. “It’s an empty feeling that someone doesn’t want you.” He suspected that his wild lifestyle and ego might have played contributing roles.

Some Toronto sports pundits felt that the Leafs had, along with the acquisition of tough guy Dave Hutchison from the Los Angeles Kings, built a champion. “The Leafs might just have traded themselves into the Stanley Cup final,” declared the Globe and Mail’s Scott Young. Regarding the price of losing Carlyle, Young noted that “a young defence is a luxury not many Stanley Cup contenders can afford, if there’s a way to trade future potential for experience combined with excellence. That description fits Burrows.”

When both teams opened the season in Pittsburgh on October 11, 1978, Burrows received a standing ovation. He aided his new team with two assists in a 3-2 Leafs victory. It was among the few highlights for Burrows that season; he sat out 15 games after stretching his knee ligaments in a collision with Bob Dailey of the Philadelphia Flyers. He admitted near the end of the campaign that, following the injury, his confidence and timing weren’t up to par.

The following season (1979/80), Burrows played a full 80-game schedule and participated in the NHL All-Star game as a replacement for Salming. The team’s promise vanished due to a series of spiteful, misguided trades by new general manager Punch Imlach. Injuries hampered Burrows at the beginning of the 1980/81 season, while a series of acquisitions left him the odd man out on defence. “I’m happy to go somewhere I’m wanted and somewhere I like,” he told the Pittsburgh Press after being traded back to the Penguins on November 18, 1980 with Paul Gardner for two non-entities. Burrows retired following the season.

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1980/81 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards.

The players the Penguins acquired for Burrows in 1978 prospered. Ferguson scored at least 20 goals for four seasons in a row. Carlyle achieved the potential Toronto saw in him, capping the 1980/81 season by winning the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman. During the award ceremony, presenter Larry Robinson cracked about the success ex-Leafs enjoyed in Pittsburgh (which included Lady Byng Trophy winner Rick Kehoe). Referencing Toronto owner Harold Ballard, Robinson joked “Baz Bastien wants to meet with you after the awards luncheon, Harold. He wants to know if you’ve got anyone else you’d like to trade.”

Reflecting on the trade, Carlyle felt it ultimately benefitted his career. “It was depressing,” he told the Star in 1980, “but, in view of everything that’s gone on since, I now feel the Leafs did me a favour. I really question whether I’d be at the stage I’ve reached if I’d stayed in Toronto.” He remained active as a player until retiring as a member of the Winnipeg Jets in 1993.

Additional material from the June 15, 1978, September 8, 1978, October 12, 1978, June 10, 1981, and March 3, 2014 editions of the Globe and Mail; the June 14, 1978 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; the June 14, 1978 and November 19, 1980 editions of the Pittsburgh Press; and the April 4, 1979, December 4, 1980, and April 13, 2013 editions of the Toronto Star.

Pat Quinn’s Greatest Hit

Originally published on Torontoist on November 25, 2014.

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Globe and Mail, April 3, 1969.

“By National Hockey League standards he is slow and a trifle awkward,” was the Globe and Mail’s assessment of rookie Maple Leafs defenceman Pat Quinn in December 1968. “But Paddy or Lurch, nicknames his teammates have given him, is tough, honest, and is always digging away. He doesn’t possess the surplus talent that would allow him to play it easy.”

Decades before serving as the team’s head coach and general manager, Quinn, who passed away Sunday at age 71, spent two seasons as a rugged Leafs blueliner. The highlight of his Toronto playing career was a big hit that levelled a star player and caused a near-riot.

After missing the playoffs the previous year, the Leafs faced the Boston Bruins in the 1969 quarterfinals. The opening match at Boston Garden on April 2, 1969 was a fiasco. The Bruins won 10-0, but not before both teams racked up 38 penalties totalling 132 minutes, of which the Leafs earned 76.

During the first period, Bruins fans chanted “Get Quinn” in reference to a recent incident. During a March 15 match, Quinn cross-checked Bruins star Bobby Orr into the Leafs’ goalposts. Orr wrestled Quinn to the ice. Both received major penalties for their transgressions, and Quinn injured his groin.

Late in the second period, with the Bruins up 6-0, Orr rushed down the ice along the boards and lost the puck in his skates. While Orr’s head was down, Quinn nailed him with a hard elbow check that knocked the Bruin out cold.

The hometown crowd erupted in anger. While Orr left the ice for examination, someone tossed a shoe at Quinn as he headed to the penalty box. When Quinn sat down, fans splashed their drinks on him. Five minutes of chaos followed as Quinn and his teammates swung their sticks at the crowd. After police moved in to break it up, the glass shattered, and when Quinn was escorted to the dressing room, Bruins loyalists leaned over the police escort to punch him. They spat, swung their coats, and called him an “animal.”

NHL referee-in-chief Scotty Morrison praised the police officer in charge. “I understand he lost his false teeth in the scuffle and was cut around the mouth from the shattered glass,” he told the Toronto Star. “It was an ugly scene but would have been much worse if the police had not acted promptly.” Another officer, who wished to remain anonymous, felt Quinn should have been removed immediately after the hit, given the Boston fans’ lack of tolerance for anyone touching Orr.

“It was a nice clean check,” Quinn told the Star. “Maybe the people thought it was dirty. But like I said, I like to hit.” Quinn denied that he had delivered the hit in retaliation for losing the March fight to Orr, and said he hadn’t intended to injure him. Bruins coach Harry Sinden felt the blame was partly Orr’s: “When you get your head down in this league you have to expect those lumps.” Orr was sent to hospital and diagnosed with a possible concussion.

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Globe and Mail, April 3, 1969.

Bruins president Weston Adams, Jr. feared that fans would kill Quinn. “If they were smart they’d never play Quinn again in Boston,” he told the Globe and Mail. “I was afraid something like this might happen.” Sinden and Bruins general manager Milt Schmidt advised their players to ignore Quinn in order to avoid further ugliness.

When Orr was released from hospital the next day, hours before game two, he headed to the team’s hotel. There he had an encounter that confirmed Adams’s fears.

As I entered the lobby, a rather tough looking “gentleman,” for lack of a better word, walked up to me. I had no idea how he found out where we were staying. To this day, I don’t know who he was or what his affiliations were. However, as he came up beside me, he asked, in a very low voice, “Do you want me to take care of Pat Quinn?” It was kind of a scary moment, because the look in his eyes and his general demeanour made me think the guy meant to do some serious damage. I looked back at him and said “No thanks … I’ll take care of him myself.” He walked away and that was the end of it.

Orr played two periods that night before a lingering headache made him skip the final 20 minutes. While there were chants of “We want Quinn,” none were menacing. Six policemen accompanied Quinn to the penalty box when he got into some on-ice mischief. They moved aside quickly after a fan pointed out that Quinn had more protection than the president of the United States. Orr told the press he had no intention of retaliating; when asked if he thought the incident itself had been an act of retaliation, he said, grinning, “Who knows?”

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1969/70 O-Pee-Chee hockey card.

The Leafs lost the second game 7-0. They dropped the remaining two games of the series, during the last of which Orr and Quinn shook hands. Leafs coach and general manager Punch Imlach was dismissed immediately after the sweep. Quinn remained with Toronto until he was claimed by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1970 expansion draft.

Memories of the Orr-Quinn collision lingered on. The game was the first future Star columnist Rosie DiManno watched in full, and it stayed with her decades later.

That encounter, on that night, resonates still down through the years, as something more than a mere game, even a playoff game. It was war. It was hideously unfair combat: the pitifully aging Leafs; the swaggering, virile Bruins.

Yet there was Quinn, fearless and defiant and far beyond his best-before date. Blood on his face, as disheveled as a brush-cut would allow, and not giving an inch.

Additional material from Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr (Toronto: Viking, 2013); the December 9, 1968, April 3, 1969, and April 4, 1969 editions of the Globe and Mail; and the March 17, 1969, April 3, 1969, and June 25, 1998 editions of the Toronto Star.

Toronto by Newsreel

Originally published on Torontoist on April 24, 2014.

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Newsreel and press photographers, Queen’s Park, 1911. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 8012.

Before videographers, there were newsreel photographers. Carting their boxy cameras around, they roved the city, covering the top events of the day, racing to disasters, and hunting for oddball human interest stories that would amuse audiences. In their heyday, services like The March of TimeMovietone News, and Pathé News brought the richness of the world to neighbourhood movie theatres.

Last week, British Pathé announced it had uploaded its entire film collection to its YouTube channel. Shot between 1896 and 1976, the 85,000 clips cover a huge range of material dealing with everything from the World Wars to clubs dedicated to waistcoats. Now that they’re easily accessible, you can count on hours of time being gloriously wasted, especially by history buffs.

Given the vast amount of material needed to fill newsreels each week and our city’s ties to the British Empire, it’s not surprising the collection boasts a few Toronto-centric items. Type “Toronto” into the search field and you’ll find royal visits, salutes to home-grown Nobel Prize winnersparades in old Chinatownentertainment for patients in iron lungs, and beauty parlours for dogs. (Some of the related descriptions are quite amusingly matter-of-fact: footage of Nathan Phillips Square from 1969, for example, is called “two semi-circular office blocks with waterfall in front.”)

Here are just a few of the clips that caught our eye.

The Prince of Wales in Canada (1919)

While this film covers the future King Edward VIII’s cross-Canada visit in August 1919, the last four minutes (starting at the 10:30 mark) highlight his stop in Toronto. The Prince attended the Canadian National Exhibition on August 25 and told a luncheon crowd that he was delighted to visit the city he’d heard such good things about from Canadian soldiers. “It seemed to me that a lot of them came from this great city, and I know no finer soldiers or better friends.” He promised that he would do his best “to be worthy of Canada’s friendship and of Canada’s trust.”

Other stops shown in the clip include Queen’s Park (“the Parliament Buildings”) and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.

The Super Test (1924)

At first glance, it might seem as if this footage of motorcycles failing to conquer a steep incline is the 1920s equivalent of a “fail” video. But there was good reason for all the fumbling—the cyclists were dealing with slippery conditions on a 70-per-cent grade.

These early motorsport enthusiasts had gathered at the ravine by Bloor and Parliament streets on April 19, 1924, for the Toronto Motorcycle Club’s annual “hill climb.” That day, Canadian motorcycle champion Morris “Steamer” Moffatt avenged his loss of the previous year, powering up the hill in nine seconds flat. “American riders present claim the hill used is unequalled for this purpose,” observed the Globe. “The course was well roped off and the police gave splendid protection to both spectators and riders. Not an accident marred the day.”

We can only imagine the kind of complaints that would be generated if someone tried to recreate the event today.

Hooray—We Can Win Something! (1926)

The caption writer was on the ball when it came to this story about the April 29, 1926, home opener for the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball squad. The game marked the opening of Maple Leaf Stadium, which took only five months to build. Fans witnessed an exciting last-minute comeback by the home team against the Reading Keystones. Down 5-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, and just as patrons were starting to leave, the Leafs suddenly tied the game. Victory came in the bottom of the tenth, when Del Capes’s bunt allowed Herman Layne to run into home.

The 1926 Maple Leafs captured the International League title with 109 wins, then defeated the Louisville Colonels in the Junior World Series. The team actually included more future hockey hall of famers (Lionel Conacher and Babe Dye, though the latter was traded soon after opening day) than baseball stars (New York Giants pitching great Carl Hubbell).

Let’s All Be Young for a Few Moments! (1931)

Some things in Toronto never change. Arguments over the waterfront. Debates over another downtown subway line. Upside-down clowns at the Santa Claus Parade.

The 1931 edition of the holiday staple, held on November 14 that year, was loaded with bizarre floats and balloons that seemed poised to attack onlookers. Among the cartoon celebrities that took part in the procession were Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse. The Star also mentioned the presence of “Woofus the Tiger,” but we have no clue who he was. Blackface radio stars Amos ‘n’ Andy were also represented.

Santa’s ride that year began at Geary and Bartlett, then headed down Hallam, Ossington, Bloor, Queen’s Park, and University, before arriving at Toyland at Eaton’s Queen Street. He was scheduled to greet kids at the store from 2 to 4 that afternoon.

Toronto (1939)

The Miss Toronto beauty contest ran from 1926 until 1992, shortly after city council voted to ban the City Hall portion of the event. The year 1939 marked the third year the contest was sponsored by the Amateur Police Athletics Association, which made it part of its annual Police Games at the CNE grounds. During the late 1930s, “real girls” were encouraged to enter, and all makeup other than lipstick was forbidden.

Nan Morris, who won the title on July 8, 1939, fit the bill. A Star headline described her as neither “jitterbug” nor “glamour girl.” Initially, she claimed she was single, but a front-page story a few days later revealed she had been married to her childhood sweetheart for three years. Even though married women were allowed to participate, Morris assumed public knowledge of her status would hurt her chances.

No scandal ensued. “I wondered how long it would be before you chaps would be catching up with me,” her husband Jack joked to the Star. “As long as you don’t start calling me ‘Mr. Toronto,’ though, I don’t mind.” He admitted that he didn’t know she’d entered the contest but said, “I’m mighty glad she won. Those judges and I both know how to pick them.”

By the way—the man draping Nan Morris with her sash? Mayor Ralph Day.

Ice Hockey (1948)

Given the eternal disappointment Toronto hockey fans have grown accustomed to, it’s refreshing to find footage that proves our team was once a contender. As the 1947-48 NHL season wound down, the Maple Leafs had their eye on both first place in the league and the Stanley Cup: they won both.

The game shown here was played in front of 13,874 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens on February 28, 1948. Sportswriters praised both teams for their wide-open, end-to-end play. The game also featured the unusual sight of Leafs centre Syl Apps, known for being a gentlemanly player who served as Ontario Athletic Commissioner on the side, flattening Chicago Black Hawks defenceman Ralph Nattrass. The Globe and Mail’s Jim Vipond dubbed Apps the “undefeated wrestling champion of the NHL.”

The corniest and most tortured headline—inspired by the play of Black Hawks goalie Emile “The Cat” Francis—came courtesy of the Star: “MUCH ADO-ING ABOUT PUCK WHICH ‘THE CAT’ HAS ‘MOUSED!’”

Additional material from Baseball’s Back in Town by Louis Cauz (Toronto: Controlled Media Corporation, 1977); the April 18, 1924 edition of the Globe; the March 1, 1948 edition of the Globe and Mail; and the August 25, 1919, November 14, 1931, July 10, 1939, July 11, 1939, and March 1, 1948 editions of the Toronto Star.

Field Trip: Going to Ann Arbor for the Winter Classic

Originally published on Torontoist on December 23, 2013.

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Michigan Stadium. Photo courtesy Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, via Creative Commons.

When the puck drops for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, some Toronto hockey fans will watch the outdoor match between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings from the comfort of home, possibly as they recover from the morning after the night before. Others may head to their favourite sports bar to catch the action. And some might even be five hours to our west, sitting in Michigan Stadium with over 100,000 other fans.

While the lead-up to the game includes tie-in festivities in downtown Detroit, fans headed to the annual event should set aside time to explore the non-hockey side of “A2.”

Let’s make one thing clear: Ann Arbor is not Detroit. Its geographic positioning is comparable to Guelph’s with Toronto: it’s a university-centric city of 114,000 just under an hour west of the region’s focal point. There’s no ruin porn—the closest might be the ghosts of the Borders bookstore chain once based there, and those are fading.

The University of Michigan is the heart of the city, and nearly 39,000 students attend its local campuses—don the school’s maize and blue colours, and you’ll feel right at home. Michigan Stadium, aka “The Big House,” buzzes during fall weekends when the Wolverines play at home. The stadium has held up to 115,000 for football games, which was part of its attraction to the NHL. Expect tailgate parties.

Heading into downtown along State Street, the size of U of M’s athletic facilities gradually shrinks, and soon you’ll see frat houses with front-yard beach volleyball courts. The hub of the U of M campus lies in “the Diag,” a large open space east of State used as a shortcut between the surrounding libraries and lecture halls. Legend has it that freshmen who step on the brass “M” embedded in the middle of the Diag will fail their first exam. It’s uncertain whether this curse applies to students from other institutions of higher learning, so probably best just to watch your step.

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From Zingerman’s Delicatessen: the #67, Jon & Amy’s Double Dip, with corned beef and pastrami.

The downtown area offers a diverse range of dining options to satisfy both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Most bars and restaurants are located on or close to Main, Liberty, State, and Washington streets. Worth a trip to the north end of the core is Zingerman’s Delicatessen. From a small deli which opened 30 years ago, Zingerman’s has grown into a foodie empire. Though it boasts bakeries, creameries, a mail order service, and a full-service restaurant elsewhere the city, the original location at 422 Detroit Street remains its heart. Zingerman’s is not cheap—expect to drop $12 to $16 for a sandwich and pickle—but the high quality and decent portions are worth it. Recent renovations have diminished the cramped chaos of the ordering area, and will make time your there more comfortable—and while waiting for your order, you can check out the baked goods and gourmet groceries. Ask for samples of anything they carry onsite, from salads in the cold case to blow-your-paycheque bottles of vinegar.

A block west of Zingerman’s is the Kerrytown shopping complex (407 N. Fifth Avenue), which includes specialty food merchants, stationers, and other boutiques. We’re drawn to Found, which mixes home décor items, ephemera, and products made with recycled materials. Ancient flash cards, found photos, Depression-era astrology magazines, and bracelets made from old typewriter keys are among the changing selection of items.

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Front window of Encore Records. Photo by Vasenka Photography via Creative Commons.

Music lovers can stop at Encore Records (417 E. Liberty Street), which seems to carry every recorded format ever invented—we’ve spotted piano rolls and wax cylinders. Records and CDs are stuffed into narrow but well-organized aisles. On past visits, we’ve gawked at the towers of incoming material at the cash register, wondering how staff aren’t accidentally buried alive in discs. Unless you’re looking for a specific album, we recommend you leave plenty of browsing time.

Other downtown attractions include two historic movie theatres (the Michigan and the State), a community arts centre, and the Gerald Ford presidential library. On weekends, a farmers’ market operates next to Kerrytown—please avoid the temptation, though, to smuggle produce across the border. Warmer months offer a better feel for the city, when it lives up to the “Tree Town” nickname it received thanks to its dense green canopy. Summer is an ideal time to explore the scenic Huron River, relax on a downtown patio, or take in the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair. Fall tree colours are spectacular, and best experienced by way of drives west through Dexter and the bizarrely-named Hell, or east along the river to Ypsilanti.

If you’re driving to the game, shuttle service will be provided from sites around the city. New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with “The Puck Drops Here,” a six-hour party downtown, which will close off Main Street. The local tourist bureau has compiled a list of some restaurants and stores open on New Year’s Day.

The puck certainly will drop in Ann Arbor, but this city also has much to offer non-hockey-minded visitors and those hockey fans in need of diversion.