THE TOWN WHERE YOU MAKE IT OR BREAK IT
TORONTO THE COOL
To the limited, or at least debatable, extent that Canadians control their own destiny, Toronto controls Canada. Toronto is where the biggest deals, the most money, the costliest television productions, the national reputations, and much of what passes for the Canadian identity are made. Like it or not, Toronto matters in a way that no other Canadian city — not even Montreal — matters to the rest of the country.
This may be an unhealthy situation. Toronto industry runs on the talents and energy of people who are there because they couldn’t make the same living, or exert the same influence on decision-making, from any other base. Toronto media, insulated from much of the Canadian experience, tend to impose a distorted view of it upon the rest of the country. Toronto finance, a small cog in the global corporate system, often ends up reinforcing itself at the expense of the rest of the country. Toronto is what “regional disparity’’ is all about.
But that problem is probably universal, and it’s not what the next 14 pages of this issue are about. Instead of looking at Toronto’s impact on the nation, we decided to look at the nation's impact on Toronto. The next 14 pages, in other words, are mostly about the people who arrived in Toronto from somewhere else,
who they are, what kind of city they found, and how they’re shaping it to their own restless image.
To many newcomers, Toronto shows a cool face. It’s impersonal. It takes some getting to know.
For most Torontonians, most of the time, it's just a city like any other: quiet, leafy residential streets, backyards, Muskoka in the summertime, a family growing up, a job. In any urban population the silent majority is made up of people whose lives include a fair share of contentment.
But these are not the people who give Toronto its special tone. The contented majority make it a big place. But the restless minority make it a big city—a place of color and excitement and opportunity, of the big gamble for big stakes. That’s the magnet that exerts an irresistible pull on the restless, the ambitious, the talented. It attracts all those who can’t do their own thing at home.
These are the people who enter into the Toronto transaction. They give something up — the neighborliness of the small town, the easier pace, the quick access to outdoor Canada — for the chance of joining the winners in Toronto. If they make it, Toronto becomes the sweet city, the only place in Canada. If they don’t, the Toronto transaction becomes a tantalizing equation they can never balance to their own satisfaction. But win or lose, it's their city.
BOB MASON is the executive’s executive. Handsome, tall, big-shouldered. Discreetly fashionable in a well-tailored brown suit (“1 buy at Lou Myles”) and just this side of 40. he exudes the sweet smell of success. He talks in angry, choppy sentences. His manner is decisive, completely. Mason is a mining engineer and two years ago he moved to Toronto from Montreal to take up an executive position in an international firm with head offices in Toronto. The competition is vicious. This city has more mining offices than any other in the world; 1,316 mining companies list their head offices in Toronto. “And in my business,” says Mason, “this is where the challenge is. Not that I wasn’t very happy in Montreal. We had a great house in Pointe Claire. The kids — the eldest is in high school — were going to a very good school. And I want to tell you that I’m the kind of guy who enjoys everything that a town like Montreal has to offer. It’s a town with a lot of style. And that’s something I like — style. There’s no sense of style here — look at Mayor Dennison. Why, I used to spend $4,000 a year putting clothes on my wife’s back. But here she told me, ‘Forget it, Bob. They don’t know the difference.’ That’s true. One night they wouldn’t even let her into the bar of one of the best hotels in town because she was wearing a Pucci jumpsuit. That’s high fashion. Damn thing cost me $400.
“And take golf. Hell, I used to play golf three afternoons a week in Montreal. Here, the only way I can guarantee a game for a business associate or a customer is to buy my way into one of these suburban golf clubs for $2,000 or $3,000. Do you know that you have to pay $9,000 to get into the Oakdale ? That’s crazy, soI take my customers out to lunch instead. And . . . well, let’s not get into comparing restaurants, because you know Montreal restaurants, right? Am I right?
“And the house! A six-room house near Summerhill is the very best I have been able to do since I got here. I had to sell my Montreal house for 25 grand. As you know, the real-estate market in Quebec is at rock bottom. To buy the same house here I would have to shell out 55 grand. But then I’m lucky to have the house I’ve got. To really understand the housing crisis in Toronto you have to realize that in the past 20 years half a million more people have come to live in this / continued overleaf
city. Half a million! That’s the population of Winnipeg. And nobody has even begun to deal with the housing problem.”
“So . . . what has made the change worthwhile?”
“Of course it's worthwhile — all the other cities are branch offices.”
ON CERTAIN CLOUDY evenings Toronto can be discerned from far out past its perimeter as a smoky-red glow in the sky. At such times and from such vantages the city seems to have shucked off its lesser attributes — the traffic growling between the tall buildings, the people bunched and shoving, the air with a taste like old brass — and become an expression of pure life force, a synthesis of energy, imagination, hope.
It is that way on this evening in Belfountain, which is a bucolic village in the Caledon Hills. I am lying on the rough, sloping lawn of a small house belonging to Michael Cooke, a sculptor of 36. Cooke lives beautifully. He is a successful Torontonian, although his house is in Belfountain and he has another house at Waterperry Common, near Oxford, England, and he wants a third house, in California, and will have it. But the ballast of his life is Toronto, and so it will probably remain.
“One percent of London swings,” he is saying. “The rest is dead. People are frightened of art or of anything. Toronto is ugly and full of mistakes and failures, but the mums and dads in Toronto buy art. It’s funny. The best city in the world now for a visual artist.” And because he is a visual artist and sees not what is but what might be, Cooke, lying on the grass, tells me that Toronto could be beautiful. “It could be a blow-up of an organic thing, a bee’s honeycomb in three dimensions. The rectangle is holding us back. The city could be a giant molecular structure of many colors and many angles ...” Every few days Cooke makes a careful, darting raid into the city, to talk to his friends and his agent, to look at art in the galleries, to walk downtown where the streets are paved with stimulus. And he has stayed overnight at the King Edward Hotel with his wife and ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon. The first piece of sculpture he ever exhibited, an abstraction called “Bright Suns,” was shown in Nathan Phillips Square as part of a symposium last spring. It was bought by the National Gallery of Canada for $8,200. Now he is preparing / continued on page 88
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What has Toronto got plenty of? Lawyers—3,321 of them
for his first show, in the Pollock Gallery in December.
He is undefeated. A London printer's apprentice who emigrated to
Vancouver Island and built a house with his own hands, he married a
beautiful Vancouverite named Gwen Thomas and told her he wanted to be a sculptor. Together they came to Toronto where she worked as an actress on stage and in TV dramas and commercials and he
accomplished his first project as an artist: an expertly forged University of
London entrance certificate, with which he was admitted to the Ontario College of Art. After two years he refused a scholarship and dropped out, having learned, he felt, everything the college had to teach him. He worked nights as a strike - breaking newspaper compositor, days on exuberant wooden structures finished in the primary colors — which he later destroyed as tentative and under potential.
He never once doubted that his potential would soon be realized.
Now Cooke is working with a new substance called expanded polyurethene, designing large structures based on combinations of several geometric shapes.
Critics have remarked on the purity of his work, the evident lack of compromise and indulgence. “It is as involving as a sunset or a tree,” one of them wrote.
Cooke, who says he is a “sky man,” lies flat on his back on the grass in Belfountain and sees neither sunset nor tree but a red glow over Toronto. “If 1 had to go into business,” he says suddenly, “I would be a junk collector. In life everything is rubbish, and you have to look through it for the beautiful things that are there.”
“YES ... i GUESS the best lawyers in Canada are here in Toronto. At least,
I like to think so. But you can’t quote me by name on that or anything else I tell you about lawyers in Toronto. Because I’ve already had one brush with the Upper Canada Law Society, which is the most deeply entrenched, conservative element in this part of the country.”
My companion is a tall heavy man in his early 30s. prematurely bald. He is a barrister in private practice, which means that he has to get out and hustle and probably makes about $25.000 a year.
We are sitting over a drink in the grubby little downstairs bar of the Nanking. It’s important at this point to describe the Nanking. In its own
way the tiny Nanking bar exists in a peripheral orbit for many of those trying to make it in Toronto. It’s on what’s left of Elizabeth Street, tucked in behind the new City Hall and the new Court House. Together, both buildings cost $45 Vi million to construct. On any weekday they house 2,673 workers and some 1,000 visitors. But the thinking of those who
govern Toronto being what it is. there is no decent restaurant or bar in the complex. There is, however, beneath Nathan Phillips Square fronting the City Hall, enough underground space to park 2,400 cars. Which, as a statistic, reveals much about Toronto. Consequently, the Nanking, from being just another Chinese restaurant, suddenly became a small gold mine for its owners.
This is an average noon-hour in the Nanking, the bar is crowded, the booths are full. A group of court re-
porters in expensive suits, heads together, are cattily discussing how a certain judge is running a trial. A weary, middle-aged lawyer in a dark, three-piece suit lays his briefcase on the bar. Three bored journalists are trying to decide whether to go back to work that afternoon. In a corner booth the female members of a public employees’ union are noisily arguing
over exactly what was said at the last meeting. And as usual there are a few furtive men, whose presence inspired a plainclothes detective to wryly dub the bar the Nanqueen. There it is, a functional Toronto working bar, without much style.
But back to my lunchtime companion. He is one of 3.321 lawyers practising in Toronto, a profession that is top-heavy in this city and province, where the law and politics have always enjoyed a chummy relationship. (Premier John Robarts is a lawyer, as
are seven of his 21-man cabinet.)
“Roughly speaking,” says my friend, “when a lawyer graduates he falls into one of two categories. He either joins a large law firm as a junior, or he launches out by himself, possibly in partnership with another lawyer. If he does the latter he has to become a hustler, working on his own. digging up his own clients. In many cases these guys become mortgage men. They do the dirty work in real estate, finding money, negotiating mortgages, generally being middlemen. Most of them make somewhere around $20,000 to $25,000 a year, but a great part of that income is usually from their mortgage work.”
"What happens to the young lawyer who plays it safe and moves into a big firm?”
“Well, he has to do his time, his penance toiling in the vineyard, and, if he’s a good boy and patient with the established order, he gets his turn at the big stuff.”
“Like who, for instance?”
“Walter Williston is an example. He was raised in Cochrane and North Bay, Ont. He worked his way up from nowhere and he is without a doubt one of the finest litigation lawyers in Canada. He is a man who did it by working 18 hours a day to get there.
I knew a couple of his juniors: they never had
time for themselves. They were always out researching for Williston.”
“Williston is not really that impressive to watch.” “No, you’re right. He is not what you would call brilliantly articulate. But his arguments are brilliant and he has that dogged approach. Today he enjoys the best position a lawyer can be in. He only takes your case if it interests him. As a senior partner in one of the best-established firms in Toronto, he now probably makes more than $50.000 a year. But I’ll bet you he must have worked for years at less than $10.000 a year.” “What happens to lawyers who don’t either make it on their own or with law firms?”
“Unfortunately, a great many end up in the Crown Attorney's office, which is one of the great faults of the system. To be a Crown counsel or magistrate in Toronto is to be pretty low in the legal hierarchy.”
"And to be a judge?”
“You won’t quote me by name?” "No.”
"One third of those offered judgeships make it on merit. And everyone in the profession knows when that happens, because it is still a great honor. That happened to Williston and he turned it down. But that
makes sense when you realize Chief Justice George Gale gets about $30,000 a year.
“The other two thirds make it as political hacks, which has disastrous consequences for the legal system.”
“What happens to the legal dropouts in this city?”
The lawyer laughs. “1 don’t know.
It’s difficult enough to keep track of those coming up behind you without covering those who don’t make it. But I’ll tell you something: there are
probably more Ontario lawyers doing time than there are in any other province in Canada.”
HARVEY SALEM, who is a criminal lawyer and a good one and therefore a skeptical breed of cat, says that the remarkable thing about Paul Norton (who is not Paul Norton, but the name will do) is that he was always more suspicious of his own motives than anyone else was.
So about three years ago. after he and his wife Miriam had had troubles with the 14th drug-addict-cum-prostitute they’d taken in and dried out. Norton went to a psychologist and said in the slightly self-conscious hip talk that public-relations men seem to use, “Look, man, am I a subconscious Svengali or something? Do l enjoy dominating people? Is that how I get my kicks? Or have I got some other angle tucked somewhere away in my psyche?”
And the psychologist said, no. it wasn’t, and he didn’t; that he was about normal, even allowing for the fact that he is a slightly undersized son of an Italian immigrant who ran a grocery store on Chicago's east side for years and might be expected to be more aggressive than the 10th-generation French-Canadian girl he married or the Canadian WASPs he works with.
“It was good to know because I’d studied psychology and I knew the means is often the end and. frankly, I couldn’t figure out why I kept on with it,” said Paul. We had met in an office-building basement cafeteria, which was probably once indistinguishable from all other basement cafeterias — ahiminum. formica, a few square miles of vinyl, chairs designed to make it uncomfortable to linger, Lake Louise on the wall. Now it is reassuringly seedy; even the Brave New World won’t be peopleproof.
“The first girl we had was Katie. That was back in 1960 and I met hei because I made the newspaperman's big mistake; I got involved in a story.
I was a reporter then, doing a radio program on the drug scene.
“Well, you wouldn’t believe it. but a cabbie and a cop had got involved trying to help this Katie. She was what you call a prior-criminal addict, which means she was a hooker before she was an addict. They roped me in and I agreed to try to find her a place to stay because if one thing was obvious it was that she had to get a change of environment. I have never spent a more frustrating four hours in my life. To show you how green I was. I even rang up the YWCA and I said. ‘Look, I've got a 24-year-old prostitute drug addict here who s been in a reformatory here and out on the
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“Into the room walked Katie, naked. She was testing me”
coast and wants to go straight now. Will you give her a bed?’ That got me about as far as you’d expect.
“Somewhere along the line I rang Miriam, just to talk, and told her about all this, and she said, 'Why don’t you bring her up to the house for a couple of days?’ I asked her if she was out of her mind, whether she knew about the way the Mounties treat addicts and what would happen to us if any heroin was found in our house, and she said she didn’t think anything would happen. So I took Katie home.
“This Katie was a hard-looking kid. Some of them aren’t, but she was. And she'd really had it. She’d made a pretty good try at suicide, which means she’d reached the point where she really wanted out. With all these kids, you’re dealing with zero self-esteem. She described herself as a pig and most people would have agreed with her.
“She and Miriam got along. I was surprised, but they did. Katie told me afterward she was prepared to hate Miriam, but Miriam doesn’t judge people, she accepts them. Katie said. ‘I knew your Miriam was okay when she didn’t pull her skirt down and she didn't pull it up either.’
“That first night the two women stayed up talking babies — we had two then, we’ve got three now — and I went to sleep so I could get up and stay with Katie. You see, we knew she’d have to go through withdrawal and we didn’t know what that meant. Who does, normally?
“She had a bad time for a couple of days, and we treated her with 222s and massive doses of every liquid we had in the house. We stayed with her every minute of the time for about four days. Then when she seemed about over it she called me up on the house intercom in the middle of the night and said she had to talk, so I said I’d meet her in the living room. I went down there and sat down and she walked in, naked, and just by sheer blind luck I said the right thing. I said, 'You’d better put your robe on or you'll catch cold.’ I was flabbergasted, that was all I could think of. They test you out, these,kids. They want to know what your angle is. When they find you haven’t got one — at least, not one they can put their finger on — you’ve won. They want help, support, sometimes even love — and no strings.
“Well, after that things went all right with Katie. It was funny, but here was this girl who’d gone across the country a couple of times and had men maybe 50 times a week and she can't fill out a tax form or get from one side of the city to the other by public transport, and she’s asking my wife what she should wear to a movie date and what to do if the guy wanted to kiss her the first time out.
“We never bothered to get Katie a place to stay. She was with us for nine and a half months, and she’s okay now. She wasn’t exactly our greatest success, but we got her some training and she got a job and she's married now, living out of the prov-
It cost Paul and Miriam several thousand dollars to help Katie, but Paul said they now know they can get money from welfare agencies. Harvey Salem reckons that helping people like Katie costs Paul and Miriam between $3.000 and $5,000 a year. They now have two other families who take in addicts, usually people
rated as hopeless by welfare agencies. They are sent to Paul by barmen, cops, cabbies, and a woman Paul described as "a living cliché — the hooker with the heart of gold who won't quit herself but doesn't like to see kids involved.”
''Did you ever find out why you do all this?”
"No. the psychologist said I was straight enough.”
"Well, why do you think you got involved in the first place, and go on bothering?"
"Ah, you don't want to hear that sort of stuff. It sounds ridiculous.”
"Look. I'm not religious. I’m not noble. I'm not a do-gooder. I just don’t happen to believe that goodness is simply the absence of evil. There's got to be more.” continued
Paul and Miriam Norton have housed a total of 30 addicts, mostly prostitutes, but including some men. Twenty-six have gone straight. There were two total failures and two borderline cases.
AT ONE POINT or another in the life of just about anybody trying to make it in Toronto, the rooftop bar on the 18th floor of the Park Plaza at Avenue Road and Bloor Street becomes the bar to go to for an afterwork drink. It has its cliques of politicians, businessmen, academics and writers. There is, at times, a little intermingling on the outer edges of the groups, but for the most part they remain insular and if the names change the personalities seem to be interchangeable, so that after a period of time — usually about 10.30 p.m. — the faces in each group appear to take on a fixed intentness, mixed with some desperation. As if they were all trying to find some identity, some reflection of themselves in each other’s faces.
On this particular night in Toronto, which began on the Roof. I remember standing on the balcony outside the lounge. Beside me is a New York magazine editor, in Toronto for the first time. It is late on a warm September evening, but not even the setting sun filtering through the layers of air pollution can soften the harsh Toronto skyline. I am quiet. For some time I have been living on the 23rd floor of a downtown high-rise and the view is nothing new to me. In fact, I have found it so awful I have become silently fond of it.
“Well, there it is, baby,” says the New York editor, “go out and get it. It’s all yours.” And we both laugh.
“Is this the city Canadians have to come to if they want to prove they’re the best?”
“Yes, in most professions, anyway. And especially if you’re Englishspeaking.”
The New York editor steps closer to the parapet. “It doesn’t look as if it has much soul,” he observes.
“I don’t know,” I reply. “I haven't made up my mind about that yet.”
The editor has to catch a plane and so I say good-by to him at the elevator and go back and rejoin the group we have left.
One of the young men at the table, who has introduced himself only as Roger and who turns out to be studying for his PhD a couple of blocks away at Massey College, invites me to join him and two friends for a small party at his study in the college. One of the friends is a woman television producer from the CBC. The other is John, a tall, fair-haired American, a PhD student up on a visit from Harvard.
The three of us leave the Park Plaza and walk around to Massey College. It is a little unnerving to leave the forced gaiety of the Roof and suddenly enter this quiet monastic-looking retreat for scholars. And the mood of our group is subdued at the sight of a Japanese mathematician brooding by the fountain in the interior courtyard.
But Roger, the host, is irrepressible
and at a small bar in the common
room we purchase ice and mix from
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the quietly smiling barman. Roger’s quarters are a small 10-by-14 booklined study overlooking the courtyard. Off to one side is a tiny bedroom and bathroom. The whole effect of isolation seems self-consciously austere. The first guests arrive, a couple in their 50s with their daughter, an attractive girl in her 20s. The father turns out to be an immediate bore. He introduces himself as a butcher.
“Don’t believe him,” Roger whispers in an aside to me. “He is as rich as Croesus. One of the biggest operators in Toronto. They’re trying desperately to marry off their daughter.”
“What’s the problem?” I ask.
“Oh . . .”
Roger takes the parents and the girl on a guided tour of the college. While they’re away, John, seized by a sudden impulse, starts taking all the books from their shelves and replacing them in a reverse position. Caught up with his energy, the woman TV producer and 1 join in. There must be about 2,000 books and we work furiously to complete the switch before Roger returns. When it’s done we collapse panting into the chairs. The woman can't stop giggling.
John laughs. “He must have spent two months indexing all those books for his thesis. He’s going to collapse.”
Roger returns with his tourists and, in another of the evening’s many asides, he mutters, “Thank goodness that’s over. I don’t really care for them but I like to keep my hand in there because they throw fabulous parties.”
I stop feeling guilty about his books, which he suddenly notices. The tan on his somewhat spoilt face disappears and his complexion turns ashen. John pushes a stiff drink into his hand and leads him to a chair. About this time, in walks one of the most beautiful women in Toronto. She is a really stunning blonde and her pictures, which are in all the magazines this year, don’t do her credit. She has come with her man of the hour, a horsey-faced oil engineer in his 40s. To complicate the situation, Roger reveals that the girl is the love of his life. The oil engineer, aware of this confrontation, seems terrified of losing his woman. He follows her everywhere around the tiny, crowded room, clutching her hand. When Roger invites her to take yet another tour, he insists on going along.
By the time they return, the party is on the verge of getting out of hand. More guests have arrived, there is hardly room to move. A reporter from Montreal insists on talking French although nobody can understand him. For some reason, whenever someone yells. “Bo Diddley!”, everyone screams with laughter.
It turns out that Bo Diddley, the rock musician, and his band are playing at Le Coq d'Or on Yonge Street, and there is a sudden group decision to move down to the nightclub to catch the last show. The Croesus and his wife go home, leaving their too-intelligent daughter behind.
Le Coq d'Or is packed, and Canada's future heavyweight boxing champion is working the door that night and doesn’t want to let us in. A team of surly waiters finally find us a
The Americans fly children to Toronto—where Dr. Mustard is
group of tables. Over everything there is the smashing noise of the Bo Diddley ensemble.
Meanwhile, funny things are happening in our party. Roger takes the model’s hand and leads her to a seat at a stranger’s table closer to the stage. The oil engineer jumps to his feet and for 10 minutes doesn’t take his eyes off them. Roger gets up to go and buy some cigarettes. The engineer runs down and sits in Roger’s chair. Roger comes back with tears in his voice and begins a look-how-I-suffer role. John and I poke fun at him. Roger abruptly turns away and starts whispering to the other people. Suddenly everyone is leaving. We follow the party outside. The woman television producer crashes into the backseat of a cab that zooms north into the neon-lit night of Yonge Street. The main group is walking away from us. John calls out to them. They ignore him. “Snobs,” he mutters. “I can't understand why these people behave like this. Are all Canadians like this?” Then in this beautiful Harvard accent he yells, “To hell with you!”
LIKE MOST SURGEONS. Dr. William Mustard doesn’t offer his hand when you meet him. Other than that he is probably the most congenial of the 3,955 doctors practising in Toronto. He is also one of the most brilliant.
Mustard, now chief of cardiovascular surgery at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, heads what is recognized as the world’s finest heartsurgery clinic for children.
As a young surgeon, born in Clinton, Ont., he began setting firsts during World War II when, as a frontline field surgeon, he designed a specially reinforced glass tube that could be inserted into the severed arteries of shot-up infantrymen, thereby saving many a limb that would have been amputated.
But it was in 1963 that he made the front pages of newspapers around the world. He devised an ingenious operation to correct the transposition of the major vessels of the heart. This is a heart defect in children. The pulmonary artery rises out of the left ventricle and the aorta out of the^ right ventricle, a cruel congenital reversal of the normal which results in the blood returning to the heart and being pumped out into the body again without passing through the lungs to become oxygenated. It is a common and fatal abnormality. The seemingly obvious solution would be to switch the pulmonary artery and the aorta, but no surgeon has ever accomplished this. So what Mustard did was to cut out the wall that separates the two upper chambers of the heart known as the left and right atrium. Then into what had become one large chamber he sewed a baffle of pericardium — the muscle tissue that surrounds the heart — in such a way that the flow of blood returning to the heart was redirected for normal circulation into the pulmonary artery and then through the lungs. When Mustard first outlined this procedure at a medical convention, he was cheered. Today the operation is known as the Mustard
Procedure and is used around the world. The United States Air Force flies up the children of its servicemen for Mustard to operate on and in 1966 he received an enormous Christmas card from the Hospital for Sick Children in London. England. Titled “A Batch of English Mustards,” the card displayed the photographs of 30
children whose lives had been saved that year by the Mustard Procedure.
"Toronto,” says Mustard, “has been good to us. We've never had trouble getting money or equipment when we wanted it. Yes. it's been good.”
Mustard has made it in a way that few doctors in Toronto ever will. It’s a standard he set for himself in 1937,
when at the age of 22 he became the youngest doctor ever to graduate from the University of Toronto’s School of Medicine.
"But things were quite a bit simpler then." he admits. “Today you can't be a surgeon without putting in at least eight years. But do you know what the registrar was telling me the other day? He has 550 applicants for 50 positions and all those applicants had higher than 85 percent in their grade13 marks. That's fierce competition."
Then after gazing for a moment out of the window of his comfortable llth-floor office, he said. “But that's the way it should be, right?”
IT'S LATE ONE lazy August afternoon, and on the lawn of a modest resort northeast of the city Herman Martin, 27, a long way from his native Hanover in West Germany, sucks a beer and waves contentedly at his wife, a Yorkshire girl. She’s sitting on the veranda of their cabin, nursing their three-monlh-old son Christopher, so far the only Canadian citizen in the family. A cicada frets away in an elderly maple and down by the lake — a splash of warm Aegean blue against the evergreen forestscape — pale kids from high-rises are browning like Huckleberry Finns on the sandy beach. This is a typical corner of Toronto's 20,000-square-mile backyard, a summer-long playground that Herman — taking his first holiday since the KLM jetliner set him down in Montreal in April 1964 — is just beginning to discover.
“This is another good reason for living in Toronto,” says Herman, shifting his deck chair around to catch the last rays of sun coming in over the lodge roof. “Imagine, only three hours’ drive from downtown. Already I think that maybe I will build my cottage on this lake. They say there is still Crown land available over on the north shore.”
But there are lots of other lakes in the playground, tens of thousands of them, and Herman is now in a position to explore them at will. When he arrived in Canada he had a couple of thousand dollars, some high-school English and six years’ training as an electronics engineer. Today his English is fluent if not flawless, he owns his own TV-service business and does contract work for the big Telefunken electronics firm.
“Herman, why do you like Toronto so much?” somebody asks.
Herman grins and says, “Because it’s not Hanover.” Then he grows serious. “No, I tell you why. I tell you the story of my first day in Toronto.
“We came up from Montreal by train, a Dutchman I met on the plane and I. On the way up we got talking to a couple of Canadians sitting across from us. They were drinking booze out of paper cups and they offered us some but told us to hide it if the conductor came along. I didn’t understand then why. One of the Canadians was a traveling salesman. He had a limp and came from somewhere in southwestern Ontario. I never did find out his name.
“Anyway, when we got to Toronto the Dutchman went off with some friends. It was late at night and I was pretty scared. Union Station disappointed me terribly. It seemed very dull for a city of two million. Then the Canadian with the limp asked me if I had a place to go and I said no. He told me not to worry and went away to make a phone call. When he came back we walked out of the station and along Front Street to a carrental place. Just as we arrived a big flashy cabriolet — sorry, convertible — comes down the ramp. We throw our luggage in the back and drive out
continued on page 98
the tunnel onto the Gardiner Expressway.
“You can imagine how impressed I was by the view from the elevated highway — all the lights, all the tall buildings standing out in silhouette. I thought. ‘Boy, this is really a swinging city.' We pulled into the Skyline Hotel and my friend booked me into a room down the corridor from him. 1 had never been in such a modern room. First, 1 tried the TV and was amazed to find three channels going even at one or two in the morning. 1 watched a western but couldn’t figure out the commercials. 1 thought perhaps there were two stories going at once, 1 was that green. Then, when 1 decided to go to sleep, 1 couldn’t find the feather eiderdowns. 1 looked under the bed, in the closets, all over the place. Finally, I lay down on the bedspread. I didn’t realize the sheets and things were underneath.
“Next morning 1 went out on the balcony and looked at all the trucks, huge vehicles to me, going up and down on the highway. I figured it must be some sort of autobahn. Then I plucked up my courage, went down to the lobby, changed some German money and walked over to pay the bill. The desk clerk looked it up and said, ‘Oh, Mr. Martin, it’s been taken care of by your friend. He left early this morning.’ So suddenly I feel good and stop worrying so much.”
By noon, after a visit to the immigration office, Herman had a job at Telefunken. By evening he was established in a boardinghouse full of other new Canadians. Two weeks later a colleague took him to an open-house swingles party where he met three girls and got their telephone numbers. Next day he phoned the first girl on his list, took her walking in Edwards Gardens, did some back-flips on the grass (he used to be a gymnast in school). He married the girl eight months later.
“So you see why Toronto has always been a pleasant place for me,” says Herman, as the wind dies on the lake and the lodge dinner bell rings. “Toronto is my home. It’s a good city. In fact, if they would relax the liquor laws, stop treating us like adolescents and maybe put some Continental cafés along University Avenue, it would be a great city.”
IT IS FRIDAY, the last long weekend of the summer. Out on the Queensway a big yellow semi-trailer grinds out of Toronto in the evening dusk, chugging through the west end where the boxlike subdivision houses and factories have crowded out small farms scattered around the outskirts. With little explosions of air, the driver brakes the yellow semi and turns it into the driveway of what was once a farm. The brick farmhouse has been extensively renovated; behind it an old weathered barn and some outbuildings are still standing.
A fat man in casual clothes and an open-neck white shirt sits on the porch, smoking a cigarette, enjoying the evening air. His face is expressionless as the truckdriver dismounts from the cab and comes over to the bottom step.
“Hi.” murmurs the fat man, keeping his gaze fixed on the traffic.
“Would you like to make an easy five yards, Eddy?” asks the driver, who is tense but trying to cover it with a twitchy smile. The fat man remains silent.
“You see, it’s this way, Eddy. I'm having trouble making a delivery. How about letting me store this load in your barn for three days, huh?“
“Okay, I’ll go to 800 — it’s a very easy way to make eight C-notes.” “What you got?"
The driver takes a deep breath. “Two hundred cases of Scotch . . . some fur coats."
“Look, Eddy” — the driver sort of leans into the fat man — “I hate to put it to you this way, but you do owe me a favor. Remember that V8 engine I delivered you last winter, still in its packing case?”
For the first time the fat man looks directly at the driver. He pauses for a moment. “Come back when it’s dark, 10.30. And I want four notes tonight.” With a “See-you-later,” the driver is already on his way to the truck. As it labors out of the driveway the fat man shakily lights another cigarette.
BLOOR AND EUCLID — that whole west-end area for maybe 10 blocks around — is the sort of place one expects to turn up in books 20 years from now, enshrined by some nostalgically literate graduate of its ethnic streets, the way Manhattan's East Side is celebrated by Harold Robbins, or Montreal's Lawrence and Main by Mordecai Richler.
Three storefronts in from Euclid, sandwiched between one store selling vacuum cleaners and another peddling used TV sets, there is a green door, and beside that, on a wall at right angles to the sidewalk, is a display case housing portraits of a score or so of today’s grandfathers, taken way back when they were young enough to be hipped on the Body Beautiful-weight-lifting bit. The sign reads’.
MUSCULAR TESTIMONIALS Wm. Oliphant And Some of His Pupils
Oliphant’s gym is far from being the most splendid in Toronto but it is the oldest. The Wm. Oliphant of the showcase, the one who developed the Oliphant System (which his advertising said was also good for round shoulders and constipation) set up shop in the neighborhood in 1919. The gym has been in the same spot for 43 years. His son William “Buster” Oliphant. 54, runs it now.
Oliphant’s doesn’t smell of sweat, but it looks as though it should. It is bleak, functional and lined with weights and more of Wm. Oliphant’s Muscular Testimonials. Some of Toronto’s most distinguished lawyers, doctors, architects and businessmen are on that wall, all young then, all wearing not-so-brief briefs, with one hand grasping the other wrist, muscles swelling, eyes glassy.
Three days a week Buster’s 70 regulars — they vary, but the number doesn’t — work out with the ancient weights, one of which may be almost a century old. Some even get to use the one machine, a vibrator, that Buster owns. It is 35 years old, and
“How do you explain satisfaction?”
breaks down often. Buster doesn’t believe in machines, and this equipment is a concession to his clients who do.
Those clients still include some of the top lawyers, doctors and businessmen in town. Hockey players such as Tim Horton go there. So do a plumber. bank clerks, two members of a motorcycle gang and a 75-year-old
ex-boilermaker who first attended Oliphant's in 1919.
In the era of the broadloomed, perfumed, Muzaked, sauna - bathed, steam - broiled Palace of Physical Beauty, Oliphant’s gym and Buster Oliphant just don’t fit. Twice in the past 15 years, groups of wealthier clients have offered to set Buster up
in his own palace downtown, where the money is and where he’d need broadloom on the floor and a steam room for hangovers and a nubile blonde at the desk.
"It just doesn’t appeal,” says Buster. “I would not be doing justice to everybody. In one of those places I would hardly know anyone. Besides, at some of these fancy places only 10 percent of their clients turn up regularly. Eighty-five percent of mine are here twice, three times a week. They’re
serious about fitness, the way I am.”
But what’s so special about running a hole-in-the-wall gym hardly anyone ever heard of when you could have a palace?
“I don’t know why. How do you explain satisfaction? My wife’s happy. We make a living.”
There's another reason why Buster Oliphant wouldn’t let his clients set him up in big business. Four days a week his gym is open only to retarded children. A retarded child usually has trouble walking, running, co-ordinating. Lacking playmates, his growth is stunted. Buster Oliphant, who picked up what he knows about physical education from his father, has been working with retarded or mentally abnormal children for 13 years. Because he does, kids who could only crawl can now walk. Kids who could only walk can run and jump, even dance.
If he gave up the kids and stayed open all week, Buster could triple his income. If he accepted his clients’ offer and ran a Palace of the Body Beautiful, he might even be rich.
But he wouldn’t be able to work with his kids.
CITADEL VILLAGE nestles on the brow of a hill overlooking the Don Valley Parkway. It has an arresting style, even though it is sandwiched between high-rises and a six-lane freeway. The architects, Tampold, Wells, designed a community for 209 families. The average rent for a three-bedroom house is $272 to $299. What’s it like to live in one of the few places in Toronto that really seems to have been designed for people?
The evening is wet and drizzly. The walkways between the connected rows of houses that form Citadel Village are damp, deserted. Many of the doorways and windows are curved, set back in the structure of the buildings. There is a feeling of secrecy, and at the same time of being watched. The first door, chosen at random, is answered by a woman of about 30, her hair in curlers.
“Good evening, I’m . . .”
“No, we don’t need any,” she cuts in and she closes the door.
At the second door, a matronly woman who has the demeanor of a maid or hired nurse, asks, before I can get out a word. “What are you selling?”
“I’m not selling anything.”
“Ah, that’s what they all say,” and she slams the door shut.
The man who answers the next door listens to me tell him that I’m a reporter from Maclean’s and that I’d be interested to know what it’s like living in Citadel Village.
“It’s okay,” he says. “What’s the gimmick?”
“There isn’t one; I just want to know what it’s like to live here.”
“Well, I’ve told you it’s okay, now tell me what’s the gimmick.”
I turn away and walk down the path. Looking back over my shoulder, I see he is still standing there in the lighted doorway, a newspaper in one hand. We regard each other for a moment from a distance of about 20 feet.
“There really isn’t one, you know,” I reply. And walk off into the drizzle, leaving him still standing there. ★