Friday, December 11, 2009

Our First Winter Storm Of The Season

It rose up out of the Pacific.

Joined forces with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico

Formed a massive storm covering half of the Unted States. And then took direct aim at West Hill.

Where we could see it coming from the top of the bluffs.

But weren't able to duck.

December 9, 2009. Our first snow storm of the winter.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

TTC Driver Saves Buddhist Temple

A passing TTC driver noticed smoke billowing from the porch of the Buddhist temple on Kingston Road at the Highland Creek Bridge and immediately notified authorities saving the wooden structure from serious damage.

When firefighters and police arrived they discovered arsonists had left 23 bottles of gasoline on the Temple's porch. This is the second time this year the Mahavihara has been the subject of an attack by arsonists. A previous attempt was made last May.

The last time the attempted arson was preceded by several telephone warnings. But not this time.

While smoke migration was minimal, the fire department estimates the damage from the current attack to be in excess of $10,000.

The fire was quickly put out and the Temple has announced plans to erect a fence around the property and install video cameras.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Royal Bank Location Now Open

RBC has moved from its previous location in the West Hill Plaza to its new home in the extensively refurbished former Pizza Hut building at Kingston Road and Lawrence.

RBC joins Canada's other major banks in opening significantly larger locations in the West Hill area, making West Hill the centre for banking in south east Scarborough. The new RBC branch is now double its former size, offering state of the art banking services to West Hill residents.

Of Canada's major banks, only Scotia Bank has decided not to upgrade its branch in West Hill preferring its coveted location at Morningside and Kingston Rd. over enhanced facilities.

The loss of RBC presents a challenge to the small West Hill Plaza who have also recently lost The Doctors Office, a drug store and The Source, all of which have relocated to the new Morningside Crossing Shopping Centre which opened last year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adventures In Eating In West Hill

Some things are incongruous.

As unbelievable and incongruous as it may seem, no one with the rank of Colonel is working at our local KFC and not one of the chickens came from Kentucky.

Not one employee at Taco Bell was from Mexico. And on the day we visited, not one employee had even vacationed there. Believe It Or Not!

Shoeless Joe's Restaurant has a policy requiring all customers to wear shoes. And shirts.

And when Licks finally got around to opening their latest store in West Hill, I wouldn't advise licking any of their employees. Boy do they get mad!

But most incongruous of them all, the Swiss Chalet Restaurant, not only has no Swiss employees, sells no Swiss Cheese, lamb or beer, but none of their clocks were made in Switzerland, instead they were all made by GE--in China.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wind Anemometer Platform Now In Place

It is ugly and it sits immediately off the shoreline of the Scarborough Bluffs.

Where it will reside for the next two years.

Despite strong opposition from a significant and vocal majority of Guildwood Residents.

It s a wind anemometer, and if the wind blows significantly, it is the forerunner of a line of Wind Turbines destined to run from the Leslie Street spit all along the Scarborough shoreline.

Toronto Hydro also claims that anemometers pose no health threats. Guildwood’s concerns were addressed in the studies done for the Ministry of Natural Resources. If there were any side effects the project would have been declined.

Opponents however, believe Toronto Hydro is pursuing a “vanity project.”

Guild opponents to the plan state they don’t want more money to be spent on the anemometer when they totally reject turbines in Lake Ontario,.

Toronto Hydro reminds Guildwood the device is only for wind energy research and there’s no current plan to propose a wind farm. Somewhat disingenuously claiming that they are not proposing to build windmills, simply collecting data.

The wind data will be collected for two years, then other factors will be studied, such as costs for construction and electricity grid connections, before a decision will be made concering the construction of the Wind Farm project.

The platform is located 1.2 kilometres off the bluffs and is visible all along the Guild shoreline. If wind results and other factors prove satisfactory, the 60-turbine wind farm could stretch from Ajax to the Leslie Street Spit.

Residents, however, will continue to oppose the project with more protests and educational campaigns.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Oldest Home In West Hill Is The Oldest In Scarborough

It lies on the grounds of the Guild, not far from the top of the Scarborough Bluffs.

It is the first European dwelling in the area and the oldest man made dwelling in all of Scarborough that still stands. When it was built George Washington was still President of the United States, Napoleon had just become engaged to Josephine and a 24 year old Beethoven was just debuting as pianist in Vienna.

Click on the picture above to learn more about this unique Ousterhout Log Cabin built in 1795. Then go visit it yourself to touch a genuine piece of history.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Slow News Day

It's been quiet around here for several months.

Although there has been no let up in the News, events and activities in the West Hill area.

Sadly, there is a reason for this. The prime mover behind this site has been Barry Fraser, who was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer in February of this year. As the year has progressed, so to has his treatment with all its related side effects. This has cut with increasing severity into the time and energy he has available to devote to this site.

At no time, however, has it cut into his enthusiasm for this work and this community.

Currently, Barry is feeling somewhat better and has some additional time at his disposal so you may see additional posts creeping onto this site.

Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How To Deal With Contractors & Home Renovations

Thinking of doing any home or property renovations this summer? You might be able to take advantage of the federal government’s renovation rebate, which is a part of their Canada-wide stimulus package. You must have receipts for any work and/or materials. Up to $1350 can be deducted from your 2009 income tax filing, which would mean you would have to spend close to $10,000 in renovations to receive the maximum benefit.

But how do you decide on one contractor over another? Obviously, your choice will be influenced by cost. Which contractor can provide you with the best quote. What goes into the ‘best’ quote includes much more than price alone. Like the saying goes no job’s done until the paperwork is completed. You can bank on the fact that if you’re not satisfied with the paperwork, then the finished job is likely to be disappointing too!

Here are some simple steps you can follow to help you choose a reliable and reputable
Contractor. My list includes crucial steps which should assist anyone wanting a quality finished product.

First step A). Check with friends for names of contractors they’ve used. Ask them how satisfied they were with the work? Was the job completed as scheduled or were unexpected delays? Did changes have to been made to the original job?

If you don’t find anyone through friends, then the next place to check would be a professional association in your area; they should give you a list of contractors who are members. Find out what criteria is used for membership i.e. knowledge and skills, including training in that field. Ask if the association has a quality control component. You’ll need to find a contractor that has good credentials.

Once you find a contractor, ask them how much experience and training they’ve received in a specific area. Always ask the contractor to provide you with at least three referrals with phone no.’s. Make the calls and find out how satisfied other customers have been.

Step Two B). Who will be doing the actual work? Is your contractor using subcontractors? For bigger jobs, if he’s not doing the work himself, then you will have to holdback 10% of the final payment, to prevent any liens being put on your house, in the event that a subcontractor is not fully paid.

Step Three C)
Find out if the contractor is fully licensed, insured or bonded? Do they have membership in the Better Business Bureau? Do they have any complaints lodged against them?

Step Four D).
Ask whether a written contract will be provided, along with a draft plan, including drawing and lists of grades, materials, colours that your contractor is planning to use?
How will the terms of payment be handled? Do they require a 50 % deposit and when are the interim payments due?

How much lead-time might they need? In what time frame can they realistically get the work done? What if the workmanship turns out to be poor and the materials come with defects? Does your contractor say in writing that he will be dealing with this if it happens? Does your contractor have any concerns with your putting a percentage of the final payment on holdback until a final inspection is done? This ensures that all the work has been properly completed. Also you’ll need to know if the contractor charges G.S.T. and/or P.S.T.?

Step Five D):
Permits. Ask if your contractor will be responsible for providing all the required municipal permits?

Step Six E):
Will your contractor provide you with a written warranty for the materials and workmanship?

Remember there is a big downfall to choosing a contractor strictly based upon prices. You want to be left with a quality job, as well as one that’s done at a reasonable price. Having three quotes would be best, so you can compare apples to apples. These are the things to look-out for when picking a contractor. Make sure you understand the agreement fully, & have all your questions answered before you sign the contract.

If you have any further questions, you can email me at

Friday, June 19, 2009

Organic Farmer's Market Great Success

The new Organic Farmer's Market has opened in the Guild to great success. Located at the corner of Livingston and Guildwood Pkw, the market operates between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm every Thursday from June until September.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Getting Around West Hill Without A Car

The truth is, being a suburb of a large city, we mostly drive. We haven't designed our suburbs well for getting around by any other means. Although there are other ways--

We can still ride horseback.

And get to fires on time.

Sometimes, it feels like we spend more time waiting than actually getting around.

Although, eventually the bus does get there.

If we want to get somewhere fast, both the local communiter GO trains and the trans Canada VIA train stop at our local Train Station

We make sure our kids get to school on time, even if we have to call a cab.

Of course, we could always take the boat.

Or just ride a bike; although that can get tiring.

Walking is fun too.

Although maybe our ancestors still had the best idea. West Hill has many murals on the sides of buildings depicting life in less frantic times.

Although this might just be our future:

Councilor Paul Ainslie is hosting an open house to discuss plans for a Kingston Road-Morningside Avenue Light Rail Transit line on Thursday May 21at at 6:30 pm at West Hill Public School.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

West Hill's "Main Street"

By a strange quirk of nomenclature, West Hill stands as the eastern most gateway to the City of Toronto. Most visitors entering the city via the Kingston Road exit from the 401 have their sights set on the massive towers of the downtown core.

Lets take a moment to see what they may be passing by in their haste.

Today, as always, West Hill has much to offer---

From the West, reaching out toward the very centre of the community is the "Main Street" of West Hill, the Kingston Road. The view here is from the railroad bridge at the Guildwood train station, looking toward where Kingston Road forms a triangular intersection with Lawrence and Morningside to form the Commercial Centre of the community. The City of Kingston was, for a time, the capital of Canada and West Hill was one small community along the long route there from the City of Toronto. The commercial backbone of the community, Kingston Road changes its personality several times as it moves through the heart of West Hill.

Where the major thoroughfares of Kingston Road, Lawrence and Morningside Avenues intersect, the commercial centre of West Hill has grown. Here banks and stores, supermarkets and hardwares, florists and department stores have all found a home. The West Hill Shopping Centre is situated on the north east corner of Lawrence and Kingston Road.

The heart of the triangle is inhabited by a major supermarket and its adjacent plaza. Now a No Frills, the supermarket was for most of its life, a Loblaws. It was here that I and many of my friends got our first jobs and worked our way through high school on Thursday & Friday nights and all day Saturday. The plaza is also home to a drugstore, Brewers retail, Chick'n' Joy, McDonalds and a Pizza Pizza among others

The new Morningside Crossing was completed on the site of the former Morningside Mall. The Mornigside Crossing proper was opened in the summer of 2008, anchored by Shoppers Drug Mart and a Food Basics Supermarket.

Then commerce gives way to trees and lawns, churches, restaurants and motels. This is near the traditional centre of the community where the first homes in the area were constructed and where the West Hill Hotel provided the only social life for miles around. The hotel was torn down many years ago and, after remaining a vacant lot for decades, was replaced by a modern housing development in 2001. West Hill is the first glimpse of the City of Toronto for travelers from the east. Its motels provide an opportunity to rest up from the drive, while its restaurants offer a wide selection from elegant dining to fast foods.

The Kingston Road bridge across Highland Creek is the most distinctive feature of the eastern most entrance to the City of Toronto from the 401 highway. And here our Main Street reaches its Easternmost end and we leave West Hill behind us, with a sad farewell.

But maybe you'd like to stay and party with us a bit longer? Here is a little video I shot of the opening ceremonies at Morningside Crossing last summer.