Friday, 19 November 2010

Mural memories

So what are the new owners of the Toronto Sun building planning for the elaborate and popular mural? Will they be moving it? Bulldozing it? Leaving it in place? 

Some reports suggest the mural is doomed.

John Downing, a Sun Day Oner and former editor, says the mural is a link to the tabloid's prosperous past and tells the story of the growth of Toronto from 1793 to 1993. 

The mural has been a popular draw to the Sun building since 1993, when unveiled to mark the 200th anniversary of the original settlement, says Downing, who writes:

"I think there is a chance that the mural is a stopping point for downtown bus tours. Mike Filey is often the host on those. There is an excellent description of its 32 vignettes online.

"The mural was a grand contribution by the Little Paper to the readers who helped it grow when Toronto turned 200.

"We made a more modest contribution when Toronto turned 175, the famous sesquicentennial. part of it was to print a two-page map in the Sunday paper (unfortunately it wasn't that good) and for me and David Crombie to lead a walking tour of the Sun neighbourhood.

"We started on the north side parking lot and marched throughout the downtown on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The Leader of the Opposition showed up and carted a daughter around on his shoulders. A year later, David Peterson was premier.

"We got thrown out of St. James Cathedral because someone forget to tell the bishop that they were holding an induction service for deacons at the time of our scheduled visit. I had arranged for the visit through Canon Derwyn Shea, who also happened to be a councillor.

"We finished with coffee and hot chocolate for several hundred walkers in the Sun cafeteria on the top floor. Red's didn't open until Dec. 18, 1990.  I still have the scissors that Doug Creighton and Santa Claus (me) used to open Red's - an early Christmas party for the Sun staff.

"I expect that the ghosts of Creighton and Downing will return to haunt, with martini glasses in hand, the owners of whatever shops or offices get shoehorned into that space.

"I go on too long because the mural and the walk and Red's are part of my anecdotage. As are the city celebrations.

"Mel Lastman, to his discredit, cancelled the annual March birthday party for the city after amalgamation because he felt the suburbs would be jealous. Horseshit!

"For some years, I chaired the advisory committee for the civic award of merit medal that was handed out and I can tell you that some recipients, like Murray Koffler, the founder of Shoppers, acted like they were getting the Order of Canada.

"I wonder if there is a way to make a huge faithful digital copy of the mural. Our photogs, past and present,  may have some ideas.

"I recall that when the famous Marilyn Bell was shown the mural, she exclaimed how accurate it was because she felt the artist had capture the curvature of the spine (perhaps scoliosis?) that had been the reason she got into swimming in the first place.

"I'm sure that Filey will talk to his former colleagues on the history/heritage boards of Toronto and Ontario to see if they will fund, or actually do the work, to get a digital copy of the mural.

"I'm sure we will find a space to hang it.  Perhaps at the Ex if I can persuade my fellow board members. Perhaps the convention centre, since Walter Oster, who runs the Sun's fishing derby, has chaired the board through several rounds of political change at Queen's Park.

"You would think PKP would pay for it, but this isn't Montreal."

Renovations are well under way and if the mural is to be demolished, it will be the loss of another link to the history of the tabloid - and Toronto.

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