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Some history - Dovercourt Park - from around World War II

Source: Herbert Franklin, Street Stories of Toronto. 1996. Toronto City Archives [emphasis added].

“Dovercourt Park: The only open space that most of us saw from one year to the next was the park. The winter sports were especially enjoyable as most children from the school and the surrounding area were in the park either skating on the pleasure rink or playing on one of the two rinks that were boarded off for hockey. The pleasure skating rink was especially good for meeting friends. Boys and girls.

At the centre of the park in direct line with Salem Ave. was a wood frame building with washrooms and change rooms where skates could be put on and where cold skaters could warm their feet, away from the freezing weather....Most of the time we did pretty well what we wanted to do and we were kept in line by strong suggestions from the ‘Parkey,’ which was our name for the caretaker of the park, or from any other adult who might have threatened to kick us in the rear end. These types of threats kept us out of trouble and also gave us something to laugh about among our peers. There was no thought of punishing any adult who made such a threat to a child, because if anyone complained to their parents about it they would be in for another scolding for behaving in such a way that made it necessary to be reprimanded by anyone. Besides, the parkey could be complaining about your behaviour one minute, and the next minute you would be helping him clear the snow off the ice with giant wooden shovels. The relations between him and the children were very cooperative, but we knew it was his job to keep us in line and we had a grudging respect for him...."

"....At the north west corner of Dovercourt and Hallam was ‘Lou’s Variety Store.’ Where we bought our comic books and candy. When we were old enough, and could afford it, we patronized Lou’s little lunch counter which was set into one side of the store to serve hot dogs, milk shakes and a variety of sandwiches with a more limited menu than the larger restaurants or diners. Lou’s claim to fame was the hot dog. Rather than simply boiling the wieners, Lou split them lengthwise and fried them in grease….Our group of young people enjoyed the family-like atmosphere Lou created by knowing all our names and being a clearing house for passing on of information. On the way to the skating rink, for example, one would stop in to Lou’s for a bottle of pop, and tell him, “If Joe or Billy come in, tell them I’m at the rink.” He knew that after skating, there would likely be four or five of us back at his lunch counter for a big feed of his fried hot dogs and thick vanilla milk shakes.

One day, we went in for our regular visit and discovered a sign on the counter which said, ‘Closed by the Department of health due to unsanitary conditions!’ With no thought of what unsanitary conditions existed when we ate those delicious fried hot dogs, we were outraged that the health department could inconvenience us like that. There was a minimum time that he was forced to remain closed while complying with regulations to clean up the place and as soon as the lunch counter reopened, we were happy to be back eating as much as ever. – No disloyalty there!”


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Content last modified on January 20, 2013, at 07:25 AM EST