Bob Aaron firstname.lastname@example.org
A celebration walk is set for tomorrow — June 23 — to dedicate eight newly-named laneways in the Palmerston/Little Italy area.
My personal favourite is the new Wayne and Shuster Lane, celebrating the famous comedians whose names were household words in Canada from the 1940s through to the ’90s. The laneway is located just west of Markham St., in the Bathurst and Harbord neighbourhood.
Sunday’s walk has been organized by the Palmerston Area Resident’s Association (PARA) which also helped name the laneways that honour individuals, families, organizations and activities that have enriched the local neighbourhood over the years.
The City of Toronto has about 3,000 laneways running behind rows of houses and stores. Originally created for the delivery of coal and removal of ash, the laneways are now used to access rear-yard parking and serve as playgrounds and walkways.
Since only a small percentage of them have names, a not-for-profit organization called the Laneway Project, encourages residents to suggest laneway names commemorating a noteworthy person, place, event or thing in the history of Toronto.
After years of effort, the members of PARA succeeded with names for eight laneways in the area, including Wayne and Shuster Lane.
Back in the 1930s, when Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster attended Harbord Collegiate, the Shuster family lived on Shaw St., and the Wayne family lived on Palmerston Ave. — the former home of Toronto mayor Sam McBride.
The house that I’ve called home for many years was built but the Shusters in 1951. They lived in it for 19 years during the heyday of the Wayne and Shuster CBC television shows and the duo’s appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Most of their classic TV shows were written on a typewriter in our upstairs office.
The laneway is a well-deserved tribute but tiny in comparison to downtown’s Joe Shuster Way — named after Frank’s cousin, the creator of Superman.
Another notable area laneway being unveiled this weekend is Morley Safer Lane, named after the Canadian-born journalist and reporter on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Safer also attended Harbord Collegiate.
The new Beatrice Minden Lane is named after the Toronto philanthropist whose charitable foundation generously supports the U of T School of the Environment and Clinton Street School. Her first husband Arthur was a co-founder of Toronto law firm Minden Gross.
The Jewish Folk Choir Lane honours the popular area chorus of the 1940s and ’50s.
Via dei Giardini Lane recalls five Italian families who grew peppers and tomatoes in their adjoining gardens for 45 years.
Other new lanes celebrate human rights activist Alan Borovoy, the Huggins family, and “neighbourhood character” Joe Bertucci.
There are still 250 kilometres of unnamed laneways in Toronto. The qualifications for names and the application procedures can be found at thelanewayproject.ca.
The walk to unveil the eight new laneways is to begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, outside Clinton St. Public School, 460 Manning Ave.
Correction – June 24, 2019: This column was edited from a previous version that mistakenly said the Laneway Project is an initiative of the city of Toronto. In fact, the Laneway Project is an independent not-for-profit organization that works with the city of Toronto to transform laneways from neglected to complete public spaces.