Thursday, 28 September 2017

Adele and Roy – Neighbourhood Profile

Adele and Roy purchased a home on Elfreda Blvd. in 1953.   Adele had grown up in the Beaches then moved north, to what I now describe to people as the Upper, Upper, Upper Beaches, to live and raise her family.  Roy was from the Coxwell and Gerard area.  

Toronto Beaches Circa 1950
Coxwell & Danforth Circa 1950

Adele and Roy met at the Balmy Beach Club when she was 21.  Adele would regularly frequent the Balmy Beach Club after school with many other teenagers but gradually outgrew it once she finished high school.   She had been out of town for a few months working and when she returned she decided to check out the Saturday night dance at the Balmy Beach Club with her friend Marie.  The club hosted regular weeknight DJ’ed dances and a Saturday dance with a live band which required everyone to have a date.  Often, the club would let people in for free for the last couple dances at the end of the night.  Adele and Marie were hanging around the doorway late one Saturday night, just checking things out, when two boys, doing the same thing asked them to dance to the last song.  They both consented and Roy asked Adele if he could walk her home.  He wrote her number on a cigarette pack and said that he would call her. 

Well, you all know what happened next. Of course, he lost the cigarette pack and could not remember which house she lived in so he never called her.  About a month later Adele returned to the Balmy Beach Club, this time with another friend Dorothy, and who should she meet there but Roy.  He told her that he had lost the cigarette pack with her number and forgot her house number and had been showing up at the club every Saturday night since in the hope of meeting her.  Roy walked her home again but this time he made a formal date.  Roy took Adele to the King Edward hotel to see Lena Horne.  Adele wore a pretty pink dress that she made herself.  That night they decided to go steady, were engaged by Christmas and married within the year. 

Balmy Beach Club Circa 1950

Money was tight so they lived at her mother’s house in the Beaches until they saved up the $3000.00 down payment for a new home.  They needed a 30% down payment those days on an $11,300.00 house with an interest rate of 7.75% over a 20 year fixed mortgage.  They were a little short on the down payment and Adele was a lot pregnant so after a few tears and an assurance that her mother could loan them some money if necessary they bought their first and only home. 

Now 90 years old she still clearly recollects the people, events and happenings in the neighbourhood for the last 64 years.  Back then Adele remembers there being a chicken farm where St. Joachim’s Catholic School now stands, a horse stable where Warden Hilltop Recreation Centre now operates, a farmer’s market where Sun Valley is and an apple orchard at Birchmount and Newlands.

When Adele and Roy bought their home on Elfreda back in 1953, taking possession around June of 1954, they were one of the first families to move in on what was then a dirt road.  Their move in date was delayed because, guess what, the builder was in Florida for the winter and the general contractor he left in charge kept making mistakes with the house.  Roy and Adele visited the house weekly to make sure the builders were doing things right and she recalls that they had to tear down and restart the build a couple times.  Some things never change.

They had one more challenge to overcome that year and that was Hurricane Hazel . By the time it hit Toronto, Hurricane Hazel was a tropical storm but it still killed 81 Torontonians and caused extensive flooding.  Adele says the Massey Creek which flows through what is now St. Clair Ravine Park at the end of Elfreda Blvd., overflowed and completely flooded St. Clair Ave.  Most of the houses on Elfreda were safe as they were situated on an elevation, but she said the dirt roads in the area were a big mess and St. Clair was impassable for some time. 
Toronto street post Hurricane Hazel

She excitedly related how much fun the street was back then.  Most of the houses had children and everyone played outside.  Roy and a couple neighbours from Elfreda and Newlands started a boy’s club to keep the boys busy.  They played sports, built things, did science projects and went on outings to local industries, fire and police stations and local attractions.  Roy also helped coach minor sports and she particularly recalls that softball was popular with both boys and girls who participated in organized leagues.  She told me that they would regularly have hockey games in the parking lot of Danforth Gardens Public School. 

Elfreda was a vibrant street and everyone knew each other.  Adele fondly recalls that they would have monthly parties, always at a different home, and everyone would come.  They would roast hot dogs and corn over the fire and during the winter have spaghetti parties in the basement.  She said that none of the basements were finished back then but that did not stop people from getting together, eating together and having fun together.  The moms would regularly meet to push their baby buggies along the dirt and gravel roads to pick up the mail at the Post Office on St. Clair east of Kennedy. No one locked their doors and kids would play, eat and use the washroom at a variety of homes on the street.  Adele laughingly remembers kids coming into her house to grab fruit from the fridge.  Adele was the first on the street to buy a dishwasher and one boy would bring his breakfast dishes over each morning, put them in the dishwasher and pick them up when he returned from school so he would not have to wash them at home.  Regular produce, dairy and bakery delivery in open trucks were also a staple of the Elfreda landscape back them.

Adele and Roy raised 3 kids in their home and she still lives there. She has 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  All her kids attended Danforth Gardens Public School and she was friends with one of the school’s administrators who lived on Elfreda and who would often walk the kids to school.  Today she is not familiar with many people on the street and referred to herself as “the old lady that lives in that house” to describe her perception of how the neighbourhood views her.  She does know her immediate neighbours and lets a neighbour park on her driveway in exchange for shovelling the snow.  Most of her family lives up north, out west and down east with no one currently in the city. If you ever see her out and about, which is not very often these days, be sure to say “hi”, and if you get her talking you may find out something interesting about the history of our neighbourhood.

Similar home to Adele and Roy since torn down

If you have a story about your, your family’s or your neighbour’s history in the neighbourhood feel free to write it up and send it to or contact me to set up an interview.  Pictures are welcome.

Thursday, 14 September 2017


Check out all the ways you can participate!



The Danforth Gardens Neighbourhood Association with The Tree For Me Foundation wants to give you a free tree (or two) to plant on private property (your private property or on a rental property with permission of the landlord).

You can order up to two of any of the following large trees (Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Red Oak, White Pine) or small trees (Smooth Serviceberry, White Cedar).

To order your free tree(s) just go to and look for the Danforth Gardens Neighbourhood Association event to sign up for your tree(s). 

And the best part is you can pick up your tree in the neighbourhood on Saturday October 14, 2017 from 12:00 – 2:00pm at Danforth Gardens Public School.  We’ll even show you how to plant and care for your tree. In addition to picking up your tree we will have family friendly activities including:

12:00 - 2:00pm 
Tree Pick Up and Planting Workshop
Community Picnic
Nature Mural Painting
Earth Play Activities

1:30 - 2:00pm
The Barry O Kid’s Show Entertainer

2:00 - 2:30pm
Multi-sport Kids Program

For more information go to or email .


Danforth Gardens Neighbourhood Association has been invited to provide up to 50 volunteers for a native tree planting organized by the City of Toronto Urban Forestry Department and Green Toronto on Saturday October 14, 2017 from 10:00am – 12:00pm.  Meet at Warden Woods Park at the corner of St. Clair Ave. and Warden Ave.

The plan is to plant 100 – 200 trees in the Warden Woods Park along with other volunteer groups.  The trees we plant will be counted towards our 150 Trees for Canada’s 150th Project. 

We can only provide 50 volunteers so please sign up for the event on our Facebook event at or email with the number of people that will be joining you.  Sign up early as we hope to max out on our volunteer quota.  Individuals, families and children are all welcome!


Let’s celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday by planting 150 trees in our neighbourhood this year between April and October 2017.  We plan to achieve our goal by residents planting trees on their properties, the local schools planting trees on their properties, the City planting trees in our local parks and by doing a native tree planting in the local ravine.

Here’s how you can get involved:
* Get a free front yard or boulevard tree from the City. More info at .
* Plant a backyard tree from LEAF Toronto. More details at .
* Order free tree from our Tree For Me Event at .
* Attend a community tree planting in Warden Woods on Sat. October 14 from 10:00am – 12:00pm. 
* Go to a local nursery and buy a native or non-invasive tree to plant on your property.
* Encourage your local councillor, school and neighbours to plant trees.
* Please email to get involved and to let us know about any trees you planted this year so we can add them to our tally and achieve our goal of 150 new trees planted in our neighbourhood.

And why plant trees? Well, trees increase property values, reduce heating and cooling costs, clean the air, produce oxygen, lower our stress levels and blood pressure, provide habitat for birds and wildlife and make our neighbourhood more beautiful.  

“A society grows great when people plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Greek Proverb

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.”
Chinese Proverb

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves.”
Mahatma Gandhi

 “Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran

“That each day I may walk unceasingly on the banks of my water, that my soul may repose on the branches of the trees which I planted, that I may refresh myself under the shadow of my sycamore.”
Egyption tomb inscription, circa 1400 BC

“If I knew I should die tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.”
Stephen Girard

“I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed, against the earth’s sweet flowing breast. A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray.
A tree that man in Summer wear, a nest of robins her hair. Upon whose bosom snow has lain, who intimately lives with rain. Poems are made by fools like me, but only god can make a tree.”
Joyce Kilmer 1914