Toronto Community Newspapers--What Happened in Your Neighbourhood?

October 30, 2014 | Katherine

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Local history and genealogy are popular passions for many baby boomers (and others), and one often overlooked source are the community newspapers that exist to report on local issues, and to celebrate the activities, schools, sports, businesses and culture in the neighbourhoods of Toronto.

Rosedale Topics, 1923
Click on images to enlarge

The history of the papers themselves tells some of the social history of the city. While the smaller 19th century Toronto newspapers (and there are many) focused on sectarian political and religious issues, by the 1920s, the development of neighbourhoods within the city, the disruptions of the Great War, and the affluence that followed it caused people to look more closely at their day to day lives, and prompted the publication of more local news.

Hill-Rosedale Topics, 1923
Hill-Rosedale Topics, September 15, 1923

The earliest community papers at the Toronto Reference Library, Hill Topics and Rosedale Topics, date from 1921. Here you find an interesting mix of stories on local school children, beauty queens and summer brides, juxtaposed with civic boosterism, construction delays and articles on the rapid population growth that was transforming the city. Places we now think of as central or even "downtown", were just achieving municipal status.

Hill-Rosedale Topics, 1923 Hill-Rosedale Topics, 1923

 

 

 

Hill-Rosedale Topics, October 13, 1923 
    

 
 

 

 

Etobicoke Life, 1992

Etobicoke, now an "inner suburb" of Toronto, has a long history of community newspapers, dating back to at least the 1940s. It was then the township of Etobicoke, made up of the towns of Mimico, New Toronto, the village of Long Branch and acres of farmland. At least five different papers were published over various periods, with the Etobicoke Guardian still going strong.

The seventies exploded with local community activism and journalism. Some of it was political and engaged with the powers that be, calling directly on the citizens affected to make a difference. Many of these local issues are now the stuff of Toronto legend.

The Goose and Duck, 1971
Goose and Duck, July 13, 1971

Guerilla, 1970

Toronto’s own version of the underground press debuted in 1970. Guerilla was political, eccentric, and notice the Classifieds. It changed name in 1974 to become the Toronto Free Press, and lasted another few months. 

Don’t confuse it with Our Toronto Free Press, a tabloid style of the opposite ideological persuasion, that published through the 1990s and into the new millennium. (Interesting how all political stripes like to co-opt that word “free”.) Note here the strangely familiar headlines.

 
Guerilla, 1970
Guerilla, August 17, 1970

Our Toronto free Pass, 1996
Our Toronto Free Press, December 1995/January 1996

 But community newspapers also celebrate the local and the ordinary. Most were and are non-profits, operating on shoe string budgets, produced by dedicated but chronically underpaid professionals and eager volunteers. Some seventies papers lasted only a few years. Others made it through the eighties, but were defeated by the recession of the early nineties. New ones sprang up, and others changed name, or format, or personnel, but continue to the present day. 

Beach Metro Community News, 1988

 

Beach Metro Community News, June 28, 1988

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ward Nine News, founded 1972, continues as the Beach Metro Community NewsWard Seven News morphed into the Cabbagetown-Riverdale News, but ceased in 1994 after 24 years. 

Regent Park Community News reported on the many activities of residents.  Leslieville Community News, established 1988,  became ETC (for East Toronto Communities) News in 1993, and covered the communities east of the Don Valley and south of the Danforth until December of 2008.

Cabbagetown-Riverdale News, 1985
Cabbagetown-Riverdale News, September 4, 1985
Regent header May 75

Regent Park Community News, 1975

 

 

Regent Park Community News, May 1975

   

 

 

 

 

East Toronto Communities, 1993

ETC...News, April 1993

Out in Scarborough, the Bluffs Monitor (originally Birch Cliff News) grew out of big issues like the proposed Scarborough Expressway, and smaller ones, like the need for community centres, libraries and local business support. As a community voice and advocate, it continues to champion local causes and local successes. Guildwood News & Views concentrated more on neighbourhood activities.

Birch Cliff News, 1983
Birch Cliff News, May 20, 1983


  Bluffs Monitor, 1996
Bluffs Monitor, February 1996
  

Bluffs Monitor, 1976 Guildwood News & Views, 1979

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluffs Monitor, August 1976

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                          Guildwood News & Views, June 1979

Many of the truly independent local voices are disappearing as conglomerates, technology and economics take their toll. Online versions give us some local news for today, but so far, no practical way to save those stories for the future. Still, in most parts of the city, you'll find a neighbourhood paper on a rack in local stores, community centres, or on your doorstep, delivered by armies of dedicated volunteers. Today's news, but preserving the history of your neighbourhood.

Scan Pro

Newsprint is notoriously fragile and bulky to store, so most of the papers held in the Toronto Collection, Humanities & Social Sciences Department at the Toronto Reference Library are in microfilm format, with a few in bound paper volumes. Read the microfilm on the Scan Pro 2000 readers, where you  can zoom in and  out, print, or scan to a USB stick.  

 

You'll also find community papers in the Toronto Star Newspaper Room, Toronto Reference Library  (Lower Level), and in the local history collections of branch libraries like Beaches, Cedarbrae, S. Walter Stewart, Richview, and at the North York Central Library.

 Current Community Newspapers at the Toronto Reference Library:

Annex Gleaner

Beach Metro Community News

Bluffs Monitor

Bulletin, Downtown Toronto

Etobicoke Guardian

Forest Hill Town Crier

 

Leaside Rosedale Town Crier

Mirror (formerly Annex Guardian)

North Toronto Town Crier

North York Mirror

Scarborough Mirror

Villager (Bloor West)

York Guardian

Selected Historical Community Newspapers at the Toronto Reference Library:

Cabbagetown-Riverdale News (1985-1994)

East End Express (1972-1987)

ETC...News (1993-2008)

Etobicoke Life (1984-2002)

Goose & Duck (Toronto Islands) (1971-1974)

Guerilla (1970-1973)

Guildwood News & Views (1970-1981)

Hill-Rosedale Topics (1921-1926)

North Toronto Herald (1988-1999

Our Toronto Free Press (1995-2003)

Parkdale Mosaic (1979-1984)

Regent Park Community News (1972-1977)

Toronto Free Press (1974)

Ward Seven News (1970-1974)

Ward 9 News (1972-1988)

West Toronto Weekly (1922-1948)

Weston Mosaic (1979-1984)

York Reporter (1970-1984)


For further assistance contact:

Humanities & Social Science Department, Toronto Reference Library
416-393-7175
trlhss @ torontopubliclibrary.ca

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