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Doug Taylor

CANADIAN AUTHOR AND ARTIST

 

DSCN1192 - CopyEven when I was a young boy, I was captivated by history. It contained romance, adventure, murder, and travel. As I became older, my interest never waned. Choosing teaching as a career, at both the elementary and secondary school levels, I shared my fascination with the students. The ancient Romans and Greeks likely never recovered from my treatment of their noble history.

When I became a member of the faculty of the Lakeshore Teachers’ College (York University) and the Ontario Teacher Education College, I had the opportunity to share my love of history with promising young teachers-to-be. Today, I hope that they have forgiven me for the sin of believing that history, especially Toronto’s, is fascinating.

During the 1970s, I conducted walking tours of Toronto’s historic districts for university students, during the days when such tours were rare. The tours included Chinatown, Kensington Market, historic town of York, and the Necropolis Cemetery. Now retired, I live in downtown Toronto, within walking distance of Toronto’s historic neighbourhoods. Since retiring, I have written twelve books, all of them employing the history of my native city as either the subject or for the background of the story. In that way, I continue to promote the history of a city that I love.

 

 

 

53 thoughts on “Home

  1. I remember fondly the Simpson store’s Christmas windows when I was a child and we’d travelled into Toronto for the Santa parade once or twice, and would get a short glimpse of the enchanting windows – always so many children trying to view them! My great uncle was an elevator operator
    for Simpsons until they installed automatic ones. Thanks for the books, I’ll look them up for some good enjoyable reading and history of my ‘home’ town.

  2. Hi I am so happy to see your site.
    Our family The Littlemores lived at 494 Lauder Ave. and we went to D B Hood too.
    I am 78 this year so I have all the same memories as you. You probably knew my brother Ron.
    There were three kids in our family Ron 1933, me Ruth 1935, and Mary 1936.
    I well remember the 44 storm. Ron went to the top of the street to collect milk and bread off of a wagon. We built a huge pile of snow in the back yard and hollowed it out.
    Remember the wooden street cars on Rodgers Rd.?
    I am going to read your books on my Kindle .
    Sadly my brother died last year he would have loved them I know. bye for now Ruth.

    1. Hi Ruth,

      Thank you for sending me your comments. I am continually amazed at the contacts I derive from my web site. I don’t recall the name Littlemore. Perhaps I knew you and your siblings as children and I don’t recall. I am now 75, so we are in the same age group.

      You indeed have many of the same memories as I do, I can easily picture the wooden streetcars on Rogers Road, as well as on Oakwood. I suppose you likely have fond memories of the Grant Theatre too. I am presently writing a book about Toronto’s old movie houses, and found great photos of the Grant, including the interior of it.

      I hope you enjoy the book “Arse Over Teakettle”. It centres on the streets around Lauder. I had fun writing it, and although many of the stories are fiction, the settings are real.

      Doug

  3. Good morning. Going to the show was an important part of our lives. I remember which theater I saw specific movies. I saw Bambi at the Paramount, The wolfman at the St. Clair, Snow White at the Oakwood and so on.
    Its wonderful to make this contact and remember that area.
    Even though I only lived there until grade three those were the things I remember the fondest.
    I only remember one teacher’s name from Kindergarden. Miss Mainprize.
    I tried to get the first book on Kindle but could not .I will keep trying.
    We live near Kingston now. bye Ruth

    1. Hi Ruth,

      If you departed Lauder Avenue after grade three, then I possibly did not have much contact with you. I went to D. B. Hood all eight years of elementary school. I too remember the theatres where I viewed specific films. I saw Bambi at the Radio City.

      You may not be able to get the first book of the trilogy on Kindle. However, it can be ordered and mailed to you from the Chapters/Indigo web site. The second book in the trilogy is a murder/mystery. The characters remain living on Lauder Avenue in the story, but it is a brutal tale ( be warned).

      It is a pleasure to share memories with you.

      Best of luck.

      Doug

  4. I enjoyed ” Arse Over Teakettle” and wanted to send you some pictures of us on Lauder. Is there a way to do that? Am I missing your email?
    I was born on Northcliffe ave.
    I will include my email [email protected] ,com

    Ruth ORR

  5. hi,
    i’m wondering if yo have any pictures of the ymca on yonge street from the 1970’s. my brother & sister-in-law were “married” on the steps in september 1970. would love to have a picture to give them on their anniversary
    thank you much
    donna

  6. Oh my goodness, the memories you’ve stirred here! I was looking for the name of the Nortown theatre because I was having a senior moment. Then to find the Oakwood and others. I remember seeing Ben Hur at the former, and House on Haunted Hill at the latter, tickets purchased by an adult as my friend and I were too young to get in at night. I went to Duncan B. Hood (DB Hood) for Grade 1, then switched to JR Wilcox for the rest of my grade school. I lived on Livingstone Avenue, just north of Eglinton, and not far from Oakwood. I attended Vaughan Rd. CI till grade 12 when I switched to Harvey for the 1 yr commercial program. I often went skating at Cedarvale rink, and saw movies at the Nortown, the Eglinton, the Oakwood and the Colony. (Remember Saturday matinees with Roy Rogers and Hop a long Cassidy, and Flash Gordon.) I am 66, and lived in that area till I was 21. My parents continued to live there another 9 years until they died. I haven’t lived in Toronto since 1987, now in Ottawa, but remember it so well.
    I always loved the films and columns about 1960’s Toronto, when I was a teen. Attended the Club Bluenote while Al Steiner was still with us. But that’s a whole other story!

    Carol

  7. Hi Doug, just stumbled a cross your site as I’m a “lover” of history, especially of my hometown! I really enjoy all that I’ve read and am going to look for your books! Your first blog on the corner of King and John, the “unmentionables” warehouse, was a great read! I’m a firefighter in the big Adelaide station right in behind there and that’s our main Tim Hortons stop! Lol. It was great to find out more about the building I’m in all the time! The side story about the York hospital in the peice and the Irish famine victims was a great touch! I’m a lover of Irish history as well and it’s great you used your story to tell the important tale of those poor souls! If your interested, there was a really good two part documentary done by RTE in Ireland called “Death or Canada” about the hospital and the Irish emigration to Canada! It follows the dig that was preformed on the site before they broke ground for the TIFF building. I’ve had it for a few years in my collection of Irish programs! Like I said, great work, I’m going to explord a little more!

    Jay

    1. Hi Jay,

      Many thanks for your comments about a post on my blog. I was born in Toronto, love the city and I am fascinated by its history. It is always gratifying when I learn that someone else feels the same about Toronto.

      Doug

    2. Hi Jay

      I just came across this site and read your message. Seems like you are very interested in the Irish. I am as well….being that my grandparents on both sides came from Ireland. I will have to read Doug’s book on that history of the Irish. What is the name of it? Also, there is St. Paul’s Basilica, located near Parliament and Queen, which has a cemetery at the back for the Irish immigrants who came over by boat and unfortunately died. Again, lots of history in Toronto. I love hearing and reading about it.

      Theresa

  8. Doug, I saw a link to your post on Toronto Theatres from FB Vintage Toronto. I, too, am fascinated by Toronto’s history and don’t understand the decision making for destroying such great architecture. I’ve managed to see films in some of these theatres while they were still around.

    I can’t wait to get a copy of “Toronto Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen”.

  9. Hi Doug,

    Being an employee of a big cinema chain and a history buff; I am also looking forward to your new book, it will be a perfect addition to my library.

    Mike

  10. So glad I found this site. I came to Canada in 1953 as a 6 yr old with my parents, and lived in the Weston Rd./Humber Blvd. area. It was nice to see the old Mount Dennis theatre, and was wondering if you have any information of the Mount Dennis history. In the meantime, I look forward to reading your books.

    1. Maureen, there’s a Mount Dennis page on Facebook. You may want to contact Darren Bedford who manages it: . You’ll love his page because he’s got lots of stories about the shops in the area, and has even printed a T-shirt with the names of many of them — Senders Drug Store, Dairy Queen, York Travel. I learned from his site that the area was called “Kodak Heights” because of the Kodak plant.

  11. Hi Doug

    I just came across this site and so glad I did! I was born and raised in Toronto and love delving into it’s history. As they say – “if walls could talk”. I will certainly read some of these books and will check back often.

  12. I spent many weekends in the projection booth of the Casino Theatre where my grandfather was the projectionist. Any knowledge of photos of that theatre or it’s workers?

    Thanks,

    L. Siegel 416.963.4470

  13. Hi Doug!
    Re the Mayfair Theatre. We lived in the Junction during the ’50’s, attended Annette P.S. & Western H.S. but had many friends who attended school at Runnymede, Humberside, Parkdale, Royal York, Etobicoke, C. I., etc. Enjoyed times at Mayfair and others (Runnymede, Parkdale Odeon, Humber Odeon, Kingsway, State, Beaver, Apollo, West End, Crescent, etc) on several occasions. Always recall the Mayfair as the Mayfair during that decade at least. Spent several hours in the Dairy Dell and I vaguely recall the family name of the then-ownership as Dimitroff?? Nearby Baby Point clubhouse was a site for some special birthday occasions. If you attended Runnymede C. I. at one point, do you recall names of any school mates??

  14. Thank you for this work, Doug !

    My Grandparents were at the opening party of the Royal York hotel. I have the table favour given to all female guests. It is lovely.
    My Aunt played piano at the Victory Theatre on Spadina for silent movies.
    Hurricane Hazel was both terrifying & fun.

    Sadly, I can not offer you a single photo.

    Best,
    Coline

  15. Hey Doug. Awesome site. Pretty sure that the portrait of the woman next to Mackenzie in the Queen Street subway station is Nellie McClung and not Mackenzie’s wife Isabel. It was painted by John Boyle and commissioned in 1980. Loved your Villages Within.

  16. I enjoy seeing the old parts of Toronto where I was born and raised at, I do remember the prince of wales theater at woodbine and danforth I watched my first Elvis movie there girl happy along with the movie the collector it is sad to see you do not have any pictures of it from my era 1960

  17. Hello Doug,
    Wondering if you have anything dealing with the old Kew Beach Fire Hall. 1904 Queen St East.

    I am research the history of this old station or if anyone out there has information, photos even the old Kew Beach Fire Brigade that was down near the Lee Ave & Queen st E Park.

    Larry

  18. Hi Doug,
    I am wondering if you might have any information about the old York County Police force. My father was on that force as a clerk when he was 20 years old, and eventually he was a detective and fingerprint expert, if my poor memory serves me correctly. I vaguely recall a story from my youth about his having to put a corpse’s skin over his own fingers to roll the prints. I believe the headquarters was in downtown Toronto. My father, in 1938, compiled the ‘First Annual Report of the Chief Constable of the County of York’. He left the force in the mid ’50s and became a taxi cab owner of 3 cabs, and one of the drivers. He had his own small company, originally working out of a gas station basement at St. Clair and O’Conner Drive. There may have been other names at one time, but the one I remember was Grover Taxi (or Cabs). He made his own rooflights…..an upside down triangle. As kids, my older sister and I delivered calendars for his business in East York.

  19. Hello. Here’s a strange thing: We live in an apartment on St. Clair at Lauder. We have had some strange occurrences since moving in three+ years ago. Being so richly steeped in local lore, I was wondering if you had ever come across a history of a murder or tragic death at this address (we are above the Fox and Fiddle). We’re not scared, per se, more curious. Any info would be nice. Thank you, Adrian and Aspurçe.

  20. Hi Doug,
    I enjoy reading your posts but always fall victim to the sadness that ensues… about the city you write about that no longer exists. I am 44 and I am pained by the changes taking place… I just finished reading the post about Stollerys. Oh that intersection was so special to me and recently visiting it again was shocking. Maybe it’s age sinking its teeth into me or “the future” that consumes us all. I, like many I’m sure, get locked in the past; memories are a blessing and curse… anyways, thank you for telling the stories and allowing me to remember a time that isn’t today… perhaps like taking a vacation that you’d wish would last forever.

  21. Glad I came across this site while I was searching for something else. Since you are so versed in the history of Toronto, I wonder if you know the name of an airport that used to be on Dufferin St. between Lawrence Ave. and the Yorkdale mall on the west side. The only remaining building that I know of is the Katz Deli which I hear is now closing. Leavens Aircraft Supplies used to be in the building before Katz Deli.

  22. I thoroughly enjoyed your post on restaurants of yore … I attended Jarvis Collegiate in the 60’s
    and so many of the establishments you cited resonated with me.. I worked part-time at the Cole’s store where you purchased your text books … in fact when I started there, it was in a maintenance capacity, I took over the broom from Neil Young, who was moving on to other things, whatever they were. Whatever happened to him, anyway.
    I spent a fair bit of time in the early 70’s at The Ports of Call in one of those bars you mentioned … it’s name had been changed to the “Last Chance Saloon” with a house band called “The Quorum”
    Then there’s The Place Pigalle. (spelling ??).
    Then I got all grown up and those times and places faded from view … until I read your blog. 🙂
    Rick

    1. I see you featured the Alhambra Theatre but forgot about the Midtown Theatre on the other corner of Bathurst & Bloor. Also has anyone seen a picture of Leggett’s Drugstore on the corner of Bathurst & Bloor in 1948?
      Also I’m looking for a picture of Weston’s Bakery on Dupont St near Christie St. c.1950.

  23. Hi, Doug! I found your site when I was searching for information about the old Savarin restaurant. I lived on Guestville, a small street that ran between Lambton and Eglinton Avenue, so I know your childhood neighbourhood well. Do you remember Harry’s Restaurant on Weston Road? As I recall, the teenagers hung out there. (I left the area before I hit my teens.) Our big treat on a Friday night was to order a pizza from Little Tony’s on Weston, or to go to Steffee’s Barbeque or Pickin’ Chickin’. It appears the Mount Dennis area produced a few writers: you, Benjamin Volman (Weston Road), John Farquhar (Dennis Avenue), and me.Thanks for creating this site where I can return to my childhood in Toronto.

  24. Wow what fun to read these accounts… I lived on Fairbank Ave and went to DB Hood school too. I started in 1948 and attended through grade 8 with Mr. Prince. I went to St. Hilda’s which i see on Skype is now a senior’s apartment complex. So much has changed over 70ish years – its fun to hear about people’s historical experiences. Will check out your books. Thank-you for this Doug! Donna Chapple

  25. Jerry lynch Doug thank you for sharing this wonderful history of Toronto .I was in grade 2 St. Thomas Aquinas in 46 probably ran into you.

  26. Doug,
    I just discovered your website while looking for information about music concerts in movie theatres in the St. Clair Ave. W. and Dufferin Street, Oakwood Avenue, Vaughan Road, etc., area. I lived on Benson Avenue just west of Hendrick Avenue near Winona Drive, until I was 13 years old. I live in the area again, a bit further east near Bathurst Street and St. Clair now, returned to my roots.

    Do you have any information about music concerts that occurred at area movie theaters in the 1950s and early 1960s. I remember seeing a rock and roll concert at a theater, possibly the St. Clair Theater. I think Chuck Berry and/or Bo Diddley and maybe the Platters performed in it. It may have been billed as a Rock ‘n Roll show.

  27. I would like to purchase a few of your prints. I love these! How can I contact you direct?

  28. Hi, I was thinking something about that too, but I decided to look for it on the internet, then I found this site and I found some interesting sentences here, I really like the way you express it and your show to write it.. Really very happy to say, your article is very interesting to read.

  29. Hi Doug, what a great site to take walks down memory lane.

    When I was growing up in Toronto, I recall an old made-for-TV movie Called “She Cried Murder” (1973). It was filmed in various locations around the city, including and recently opened Ontario Place, the TTC, and Julie’s Manson on Jarvis. In case you’re interested, here’s the link to the movie on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zZv2VP238k

    All the best, Ed

  30. Do you remember HOOPER Avenue on Centre Island? We were there around 1939/40 – I was born in 1935 so very young but my older brother and sister went to school on the island!

  31. Dear Mr Taylor
    I am an artist working on a new artwork called HELIX which is an interactive sculpture that displays panoramic imagery I shot at King and Bay in 1986 https://grahamthomassmith.com/frame-to-frame/
    which resulted in a 360 degree film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgkUVniUuuQ

    For the piece I would like to include imagery from that intersection from past time periods and I would like to see if u have any of such images or could point me in the right direction to gain access to them. The 4 main banks are on all the corners which so I think they may have images but it is the Cawthra House that most interests me as it is such an early amazing building at a central point in the cities history. Thanks and hope u are well in these crazy times
    Graham Smith

  32. Oct. 24-20

    I’d just like to provide a couple of corrections regarding the SS Cayuga feature.

    The ship was owned by the Northern Navigation Company, Canada Steamship Lines, and the Cayuga Steamship Company. It last operated in 1957, and was scrapped in 1961, not 1960. It sailed, at least for much of its career, from the CSL dock near the foot of Yonge St., Toronto, to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston. I travelled on the ship in 1954, 1955, and 1956.

    John Thompson
    Hamilton ON

  33. Now 85 this week and living in Calgary I was born in Toronto and lived at Danforth and Pape (SW) corner until we moved to Winnipeg when I was 13. My friends there were Billy Gray, Lionel Pasen Betty McKinnon and Raymond Louden and we went to Franklin school on Logan. We lived just adjacent to the ODEON and spent many happy times there. There was a ladies dress shop we lived above, as my father was in the Artillery,1939-46. There was a wonderful library on the east side of Pape with a children’s section and Just Mary children’s radio studio. Too many memories are flooding in. My mother brought up my sister and me in a two room apartment virtually on her own while working at the Reitman’s store there beside the old PALACE. The third theatre a block west was our introduction to colour, serials and just great times.
    Thank you!!

  34. I am asking about a park at the bottom of Jones and Queen st e. in Toronto. I remember a very small outdoor ice rink there in the 6o`s. Do you have anyway of confirming that they had a rink there? I really appreciate your help. Thank you Irene Krawczyk

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