Saturday, October 8, 2016

Visiting Degrassi Junior High in Etobicoke -- Soon to be another casualty of reckless development

Easily one of the most influential, groundbreaking and iconic shows in Canadian history, Degrassi Junior High ran on CBC television from 1987 to 1989. It was a sequel of sorts to the kid's show The Kids of Degrassi Street and was, of course, followed by Degrassi High.

It was way ahead of its time (and even is to an extent today) for a show aimed at young adults and tackled issues like abortion, alcoholism, abuse and other topics that most shows would not go near.

Recently my partner came across this production schedule notice in the back of a drawer in the house we rent part of in the Toronto west end neighbourhood of Long Branch, Etobicoke. It is for the filming of Degrassi Junior High which was at the historic old school house, Vincent Massey Public School.

Vincent Massey was originally Daisy Avenue Public School when it opened in 1929. It is a beautiful, classic early North American style public school with a surrounding green space that has a soccer field and two smaller baseball areas, as well as a small playground.

The school closed in the early 80's (which is why the production company was able to use it) and eventually reopened as a daycare.

Unfortunately the owner of the property, the Toronto District School Board, as part of the ongoing austerity agenda in this city and province, decided to sell this important piece of local history and park area to developers.

After protest meetings and the partial intervention of the city, a deal was worked out that will save the school house and daycare wing, but the green space will be destroyed and filled in with more paint-by-number, bland, cookie-cutter townhouses.

In addition to representing the loss of vital green space, much of the charming character of the place will be lost.

This is a real shame, but par for the course in a city that does so little to preserve its history.

However, construction is still some way off, so you have a chance to come and take a look at Degrassi/Vincent Massey and maybe take a few photos and play some afternoon soccer with friends or your kids before that happens.

And it is just up the street from a terrific Austrian bistro, Sugar For My Honey, nearby what I think are the best chicken wings in Toronto at Sloppy Joe's, and close to lovely waterfront parks like Marie Curtis Park and Sam Smith Park. The 501 Queen streetcar line has a stop at 29th St. just two blocks away from the site.

You can also find Degrassi episodes on You Tube. We have included one at the end.

The iconic front steps! 

What a shame.

The back of Degrassi/Vincent Massey

See also: Marie Curtis Park & Beach -- The Lakeside Parks of South Etobicoke IV

See also: Amos Waites Park -- The Lakeside Parks of South Etobicoke III

No comments:

Post a Comment