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Little Italy lanes to be named for well-known residents

Last Updated Feb 19, 2019 at 12:05 am EDT

Several lanes in Little Italy will soon be named after prominent residents.

The Palmerston Area Residents’ Association has been spearheading the initiative with names for eight lanes already approved by the Toronto East York Community Council.

They plan on submitting three more lane names for consideration in the near future for Lucie Tuch, Sam Richardson and Eliza Balmer.

Toronto and East York Community Council approved the lane names at Thursday’s meeting.

The lanes are all within the blocks bounded by Harbord Street, Markham Street, College Street and Grace Street.

Alan Borovoy Lane

Alan Borovoy grew up on Grace Street in his grandparent’s house before becoming a lawyer and human rights activist. He was best known as the long-time general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and was actively engaged in the “civic life of Toronto.”

His cousin Stuart Baltman approved the use of his name after Borovoy passed away on May 11, 2015.

Alan Borovoy lane will be the lane that connects Grace Street to Jersey Avenue that runs parallel to Clinton Street.

Beatrice Minden Lane

Thousand of children were educated in the arts thanks to a endowment set up by Beatrice Minden at the Clinton Street School. Beatrice passed away on Aug. 30, 2009 at the age of 99.

The new Beatrice Minden Lane will be an L-shaped lane just off of Clinton Street and Harbord Street.

Joe Bertucci Lane.

Joe Bertucci was described as a “neighbourhood character” and long-time resident of Little Italy who sat on his porch and always provided a helping hand for his neighbors. His wife and three daughters have given permission to use Joe’s name.

Joe Bertucci lane will run parallel to Clinton Street between Harbord Street and the newly named Huggins Family Lane.

Huggins Family Lane

The Huggins Family lived at 205 Clinton Street for over 50 years and were among the first and only black families in the neighbourhood for many years. John Huggins and his wife Wyvonie immigrated to Toronto and bought their first home on Clinton Street in the early-to-mid 1960s.

The Huggins family who lived in a home on Clinton Street will be honored with a lane named after them in Little Italy. Photo credit to Palmerston Area Residents Association.

John worked as a porter for the Canadian National Railway while Wyvonie stayed home to raise their four children who all attended Clinton Street Public School and then King Edward School near Bathurst and College Streets.

The Huggins children grew up to “make their mark on the community as adults” in their various occupations as film makers, lawyers and social activists.

Huggins Family Lane will connect Manning Avenue and Clinton Street.

Morley Safer Lane

One of North America’s best-known TV journalists, Morley Safer grew up on Manning Avenue, attended Clinton Street Public School and Harbord Collegiate before travelling the world as a foreign correspondent for CBS.

Safer lived with his two siblings and parents who had immigrated to Toronto from central and eastern Europe. In 2013, he appeared in a reminiscence about the 125th anniversary of the Clinton School and called the school “an ethnic patchwork quilt of children of working class immigrants — Jewish, Ukrainian, Scots, Irish, English and Italian.”

He passed away on May 29, 2016 and the laneway between Manning Avenue and Clinton Street will be named Marley Safer Lane.

The Jewish Folk Choir Lane

While an official name has yet to be submitted, one of the lanes will be named in honour of the Jewish Folk Choir which began in 1925.

The Jewish Folk Choir, picture here on July 29, 1927. Photo credit to Palmerston Area Residents Association.

It became on the most popular choirs in Toronto in the 1940s and 50s under conductor Emil Gartner who along with his wife, Feygl Freeman, the accompanist for the choir, lived on Palmerston Avenue. Their home became a hub for choir activities which continued after Gartner passed away in 1960. Their daughter Esther eventually became the principal cellist for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.


Via dei Giardini Lane

Five families, the Vellone’s, the Decaria’s. the Rizzuto’s, the Dadetta’s and the Soldano’s, all emigrated from Southern Italy to the Palmerston community in the early 1960s. They ended up living next to each other in the laneway that will be named after them. Together, they created a garden that they used to can peppers and tomatoes and continued the tradition for 45 years.

Photo credit: A. Vellone

Via dei Giardini translates to “Way of the gardens” and the lane between Euclid Avenue and Palmerston Boulevard will now be known as Via Dei Giardini Lane.

Wayne and Shuster Lane

Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster both attended Harbord Collegiate Institute before finding fame as a Canadian comedy duo who appeared more 65 times on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Wayne passed away in 1990 while Shuster died in 2002.

Wayne grew up on 351 Palmerston Blvd., which backs on to the laneway that will now be known as the Wayne and Shuster Lane.