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Nine-year-old boy calls 911 to report his mom is driving drunk

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 13th, 2015

A nine-year-old boy is being credited for turning his mother in for drinking and driving.

A York Regional Police dispatcher received a 911 call on Nov. 11 at around 4:30 p.m., but there was no one on the line. When the dispatcher called the number back, a boy answered and indicated that he was in a van with his mother who was drinking and driving.

The boy told the operator his name, his age, a description of the van, his home address and where he was. York police say the boy’s mother then took the phone and told police that she had only one drink and that she was fine to drive. She then hung up the phone.

Police were able to determine the van was in King Township and heading toward Columbus Way and Mulock Drive in Newmarket, where it was stopped by police.

A 52-year-old woman was arrested at the scene for impaired driving. At the #1 District headquarters in Newmarket, a breath test determined she was over twice the legal limit. She was subsequently charged with impaired driving and for blowing over .08.

Arrangements were made by police to turn the boy over to his father, and the Children’s Aid Society was also contacted.

According to York police, over 1,500 impaired charges have been laid so far this year, up from 1,384 charges laid at this time in 2014.

They also encourage everyone to call 911 if they believe a motorist is impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Wind gusts up to 80 km/h possible for Toronto

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2015

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for parts of the GTA, including Toronto, calling for strong and gusty winds on Thursday.

The statement covers York, Durham, Halton and Peel, and extends to Hamilton, Sarnia and surrounding areas.

“This cold front will race east across the remainder of Southwestern Ontario this morning, with strong southwesterly winds gusting to 80 km/h expected in many places,” the weather agency said in a statement.

Winds gusts of 85 km/h were reported at Windsor Airport around 9 a.m.

Areas near the eastern Lake Erie could see wind gusts of 90-100 km/h, where a wind warning is in effect.

Environment Canada says strong winds are expected for much of the day and they will diminish slightly tonight.

Last Friday, a massive windstorm in southern Ontario left 112,000 people without power for several days, with Hydro One crews still working to restore power on Monday morning.

In a statement, Hydro One said crews were preparing for Thursday’s “severe” winds and any outages that may occur.

Hydro One “is following normal procedures in advance of any potential major outages caused by this type of weather system,” the agency said in a statement.

Click here to check the Hydro One outage map.

What to do in a power outage

  • stay clear of any fallen power lines
  • keep at least 10 metres back of fallen power lines, even if they do not appear to be live
  • report downed lines to Hydro One at 1-800-434-1235
  • if your power is out, do not open the fridge or freezer
  • A full freezer can keep food cold for 48 hours. If it’s half full, it’ll be cold half that time – about 24 hours.
  • an unopened fridge will keep food cold for four hours
  • don’t take chances: throw out thawed food that’s been at room temperature for two or more hours
  • don’t leave the food outside as the sun can thaw frozen food, even if it’s cold
  • if it contains ice crystals or feels as cold as your fridge, it can be re-frozen
  • keep a few taps turned on to a trickle to prevent pipes from freezing
  • unplug all unnecessary appliances to protect them from potential power surges as hydro crews work to restore electricity
  • make sure the stove is off
  • leave on only select lights to let you know that power is back up and running
  • conserve your phone’s battery by turning down the screen brightness and turning off power-hungry functions such as Bluetooth, WiFi and location services
  • Don’t use generators, barbecues, camping stoves or other types of outdoor heaters in the home. They all generate carbon monoxide, a colourless and odourless gas which is fatal if allowed to accumulate.
  • Candles and wood-burning fires may be effective tools during a blackout, but they should never be left unattended. Douse all flames before leaving a room. A safer candle alternative is a battery-powered or wind-up LED light, which uses hardly any electricity.

Character Toronto: Best-dressed man in Dundas Square says he’s ‘not a pimp’

Michael Talbot and Stephen Dagg | posted Thursday, Nov 12th, 2015

When Wessen Dagnew talks about “going west” his eyes light up as though he’s envisioning a great journey.

But the westerly walk he’s really talking about is anything but epic. It’s about 700 metres or so, straight across Dundas Street.

He tips his hat at strangers, his cane clucking along the sidewalk like a metronome as he heads towards Yonge-Dundas Square. His daily trek may be less than a kilometre through familiar territory, but to Dagnew, it’s a portal to another world.

At work, he goes by ‘Tony.’ He wears track pants, a hoodie, and dusty black boots. He takes out the garbage and cleans the rooms. In the winter, he shovels the snow.

He’s the definition of nondescript.

But in the square, in the strange simmering soup of downtown Toronto, his dramatic transformation is on full display. He stands like a regal statue, surveying his kingdom behind mirrored shades.

Here, he’s the Ambassador — the nickname bestowed upon him by the friends that hang on his every word and trail him when he walks, as though he were a peculiar pied piper. A wild peacock of the street.

His humble work clothes are a distant memory when he dons one of his 24 custom made suits, from baby blue to blood red. The broom he pushes through the day is replaced by a cane topped with a golden eagle head that gleams in the sunlight. His baseball cap is traded in for a tilted fedora.

He’s visually arresting. You can’t help but wonder what his story is, and, as he’s quick to explain in an exasperated tone, most people create their own.

It’s a story he’s familiar, but not comfortable with. People think he’s a pimp. He can hear the whispers.

“When you dress like this, everybody wants to know how you make a living,” he explains, decked out in a dove white suit and bright red bow-tie.

“I’m not a pimp! I have a job!”

“It used to make me angry but now I’m used to it.”

Before he came to a begrudging peace with being branded a criminal because of his penchant for flamboyance, Dagnew used to carry around his income tax returns.

Like a war-time gangster who diligently packs a gat, he wouldn’t leave home without government-endorsed evidence of his employment.

He would pull the slips out at the slightest sideways glance, eager to prove he was a hard-working man, not a criminal.

“Some of them I showed my income tax return, how much money I make at my job, and still they call me pimp!”

“They would say, ‘How come we don’t see you with girls?’

“Because I’m not a pimp!”



Dagnew’s outward appearance on his daily walks belies his ascetic existence.

He’s been working at the same rooming house near Queen and Sherbourne streets for the past 17 years, seven days a week. Many of the residents are plagued with drug and alcohol addictions and mental health issues.

“It’s good to help people,” he says. “Most of them, they are good people.”

He lives at the rooming house, in a shoebox-sized room that can barely accommodate his mattress, a small dresser and the clothes rack where his suits hang.

He’s up every day at 5:30 a.m.

“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke, no cigarettes, no beer, no wine, since I was born, never,” he insists. “My priority is my work.”

The spry 61-year-old even had to tone down his one admitted vice, switching from regular Coke to diet after he developed diabetes.

He laughs when he imagines people conjuring images of a fast-living street hustler when they see him decked out.

“I’m clean like a child, I’m a hard working guy. But they judge you the way you dress.”



Before he came to Canada in 1991, Dagnew was a teacher for 17 years in his native Ethiopia. Even as a young boy he had an aesthetic flair. “I used to love to dress up, he explains. “It grew up with me.”

But his affinity for unique threads became a full-blown passion after he spotted an album cover near St. Lawrence Market one day.

“This group they dressed all in blue, six of them, everything, baby blue. I said ‘why don’t I have this kind of suit?’ “

“I went to Fabricland. I bought the material and found an Italian tailor … and I told him for my first suit, I want baby blue.

“Then I walked around and people called me pimp. I said ‘I’m not a pimp.’ I tried to convince them. But they told me you’re a pimp if you dress like this.”

“The police stopped me several times, ‘What do you do for a living?’ ”




Dagnew has spent the morning cleaning nearly 45 rooms. It’s time for his lunch break, and the first of his two daily walks.

Like a meek Clark Kent slipping into a phone booth and emerging as a muscled superhero, he enters his room as Tony and emerges as the Ambassador.

“It makes me very happy when I dress like this,” he insists. “I enjoy it … I work seven days a week, but when I come out I’m like a king.”

But his joy is tempered because his passion has also burdened him.

“What I didn’t know, is that when you dress like this, people call you pimp,” he adds with an endearing naivety. “I didn’t know.”

“I like people to know that I’m a hard working guy.”

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” he adds, his lower lip trembling. “You don’t know what is inside.”



‘In Flanders Fields’ still Canada’s pre-eminent war poem, even after 100 years

Murray Brewster and Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2015

OTTAWA – A century after it was written, “In Flanders Fields” — the solemn lament of war, sacrifice and obligation by John McCrae that’s carved into the marble masonry of Parliament Hill’s Peace Tower — will find new life Wednesday among schoolchildren who will recite its haunting refrain.

Few other works of battlefield art are as poignant or as famous — indeed, as Wednesday’s now-familiar Remembrance Day proceedings will make clear, none of the bloody conflicts of the past decade have produced anything that comes close.

McCrae — a colonel, a surgeon and artillery field officer — wrote the poem in the midst of mourning the death of a close friend following the Second Battle of Ypres in late April 1915.

It was published later that year to wide acclaim; many credit it with inspiring Britain, Canada and other Commonwealth countries to adopt the poppy as symbol of sacrifice.

Its personal sentiment and haunting symbolism are why the poem has its own special place in the pantheon of great art and literature that was born out of the suffering of the First World War.

McCrae’s poem was a response to newly emerging questions about the meaning of war and the need to keep fighting, said Adam Muller, a professor at the University of Manitoba who researches how war is represented in art.

The same questions weren’t being asked of Canada’s fight in Afghanistan, which is why the artistic answers are different as well.

“These are peripheral representations; they don’t strike at the core of our day-to-day life in the way that something like ‘Flanders Fields’ did,” he said.

“And I think also there’s prevailing ambivalence about Canadian involvement in that war … we find evidence of this ambivalence in the art that has been produced to date as well. It’s not clear cut. Say what you like about McCrae, he’s clear cut. “

It’s one of the reasons it still resonates 100 years later and why the Vimy Foundation, which is committed to preserving the legacy of Canada’s greatest First World War battle, has challenged classrooms from coast to coast to recite it.

Kathleen Pick, a Grade 12 student at Ottawa’s John McCrae Secondary School — named after the poet-soldier — says since 9/11 she is hard-pressed to point to any enduring artistic expression of this generation’s wars.

Part of it may be that society looks at war differently than it did a century ago and people today — bombarded by images of conflict in the news and movies — may have become numb, or indifferent.

“Our perception of war has definitely changed as a society,” said Pick.

“We don’t see it as the same series of tragedies that it was in the First World War and I don’t think people recognize exactly how devastating the wars of today can still be to people.”

In the U.S., there is a growing body of art reflecting on the American side of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of which that has won major awards, said retired U.S. Army officer Peter Molin, who teaches at Rutgers University and runs the website Time Now, about how those two wars are represented in art, film and literature.

A major difference from past wars is that most of the poems and novels aren’t about life on the battlefield, but what happens after.

Some are driven by veterans using government funds to return to school, taking classes that inspire their work. The dissonant nature of poetry from the battlefield also means many wait until they get home to put pen to paper, Molin said.

“It’s only afterwards you take off the kid gloves and you can get a little tougher with your thoughts about things.”

McCrae’s poem is carved into a serene alcove in the Peace Tower, amid the stained glass and marble of the Memorial Chamber, where books of the country’s war dead reside on six newly reconstructed altars.

Johanna Mizgala, curator of the House of Commons, said she believes it will take society a few years to sort through the trauma of the last decade before perhaps producing a lasting work of art akin to McCrae’s.

“I think it’s very difficult to translate profound grief and loss into something, (because) it’s a question of making an absence into a presence and something that is it sometimes almost too hard to put into words,” said Mizgala.

“So, if we don’t compose a poem for today, perhaps there will be some other sign or symbol. It may take a while for something to take hold, but that’s the thing about this poem.

“It wasn’t written to become the anthem that it became. It just resonated so profoundly with people. Often, it’s the grassroots that tells us when something has poignancy or not.”

While there may yet have been no great modern-day expressions of battle-borne art, there are quiet, individual contributions.

Dominion sculptor Phil White designed and built the altars that hold the books of remembrance. It took him two years to get the design and construction just right so that it reflected the original architect’s solemn vision for the chamber.

There are little touches here and there, such as the poppies integrated into the legs of the altars, which add to the remote, pastoral air the designer envisioned.

“I have relatives whose names are inscribed in those books,” said White, who spent part of his career at the Canadian War Museum preserving history there.

“So, to me, I could think of no more important thing I could do with my career than honour the names of the people who gave their lives.”

Honouring veterans: Ceremonies being held across Canada for Remembrance Day

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2015

It’s a day to remember those who fought for our country and those who are still serving.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians will observe two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day, to honour all military personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Gov.-Gen. David Johnston will preside over the main ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa at 11 a.m., and will then host a luncheon to honour this year’s National Silver Cross Mother, Sheila Anderson.

The recipient of the Silver Cross represents the mothers who have lost their children to war. Anderson’s son, Corp. Jordan Anderson, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2007.

In Toronto, a Remembrance Day sunrise ceremony will be held at Prospect Cemetery, at St. Clair Avenue West and Lansdowne Avenue, at 8 a.m. Ahead of the ceremony, Mayor John Tory will lay a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice.

Ceremonies and services will be held at various other locations across the city, including at the Old City Hall Cenotaph and at Queen’s Park at 10:45 a.m. Click here for a full list.

The TTC will observe two minutes of silence by stopping all vehicles at 11 a.m. Subway and Scarborough RT cars will be held at station platforms, while buses and streetcars will stop at a regular service stop. Current and former members of Canada’s military and one companion will be able to ride the TTC for free.

GO Transit is also offering free service for veterans and their companions. Veterans are asked to identify themselves by wearing their medals, beret, blazer, uniform or other similar belongings while traveling.

On Tuesday evening, several volunteers including children from Girl Guides planted 30,000 tiny Canadian flags on the front lawns of the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre at the North York hospital.

A similar display can be seen in downtown Toronto, at an emotional Remembrance Day tribute at the Manulife building at Bloor and Jarvis streets.

Ahead of Remembrance Day, 11,843 Canadian flags were planted on the front lawn of the company’s head office, honouring the more than 118,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died in wartime and in peace keeping missions.

It was on this day in 1918 that an armistice was signed with Germany and allied nations, ending hostilities during the First World War. As per tradition, moments of silence will be held on the 11th hour around the world.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian Lt.-Col. John McCrae. It was first published in the London Spectator in 1915.

What’s closed today

Government offices and banks are closed, and there is no mail delivery.

The LCBO and Beer Store locations will not open until noon.

With files from The Canadian Press

University of Toronto students create poppy banner to honour veterans

Kevin Frankish and News Staff | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2015

University of Toronto engineering students have created a banner made entirely of poppies to honour Canada’s veterans.

The banner, reading “U of T Remembers,” was erected Wednesday morning at College Street and King’s College Road.

The students spent all night cutting poppies out of felt before affixing them to the white banner.

“The installation commemorates Remembrance Day,” student Kim Ren said.

“Even though we weren’t alive, we’re still reaping the benefits of fellow Canadians who did sacrifice their lives so we can live the way we do now, so we could go to school and do fun things like this.”

Roughly 70 per cent of the U of T campus was used by the military in the First World War, including as a training ground for pilots. The university also has a Soldiers’ Tower, which serves as a memorial to alumni who were killed in the two World Wars.

University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.
University of Toronto students created a banner made of felt poppies to honour veterans on Nov. 11, 2015. CITYNEWS/Kevin Frankish.

Lady bugs are invading!

Frank Ferragine | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2015

Are you being invaded by Ladybugs?

From all over Ontario, people are saying, “what’s up with all the ladybugs?”

Most likely, the swarms are Asian Multicoloured or seven spotted ladybugs introduced to North American in the 90s to control aphids.  With warm days and cool nights, these little guys know it’s time to hibernate and there goal is to find the warmest place possible and that’s why they are coming into your homes.

To prevent them coming in you need to block any entrances and caulk as many cracks and holes as possible.

If they are in your home the easiest way to remove them is to vacuum them up.  The good news once inside your home they will not eat or lay eggs they just want a warm place to stay overwinter!

Ladybugs just looking hibernate, now let’s just stop them from hibernating in our homes.

We shall not forget: Remembrance Day events part of weekend roundup

Patricia D’Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Nov 6th, 2015

It’s been 70 years since the end of the Second World War, and the memories are still fresh in the minds of veterans and their families. Stories from this war, battles past and ongoing missions will be shared at ceremonies leading up to Remembrance Day next week.

On Nov. 11, Canadians will stop to remember soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and those who are currently serving in countries around the world.

A veteran clutches the Canadian flag during a Remembrance Day ceremony in the GTA. CITYNEWS/Michael Talbot.
A veteran clutches the Canadian flag during a Remembrance Day ceremony in the GTA. CITYNEWS/Michael Talbot

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
– Lt.-Col. John McCrae

A Remembrance Day ceremony and a tribute will be held in Toronto this weekend. Those heading down to those events should note there’s a partial subway closure on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) due to TTC work.

Remembrance Day events

Inscription of the poem "In Flanders Fields" in a book at the John McCrae memorial in Guelph, Ont., on Nov. 11, 2009. CREATIVE COMMONS/Lx 121
Inscription of the poem “In Flanders Fields” in a book at the John McCrae memorial in Guelph, Ont., on Nov. 11, 2009. CREATIVE COMMONS/Lx 121

Remembrance Day at Scarborough Civic Centre
A number of ceremonies and events honouring Remembrance Day are taking place across Canadathis weekend, ahead of the solemn day next week. In Toronto, a commemoration will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Queen’s Own Rifles Day
Hear performances by the Queen’s Own Rifles band and meet members of the regiment at Casa Loma during Saturday’s event being held in honour of Remembrance Day. First World War and Second World War re-enactors will also be on hand, including military vehicles and armament. Soldiers, veterans and cadets will be able to access Casa Loma for free Nov. 7-11.

The Queen's Own Rifles Day is being held on Nov. 7, 2015. Photo via casaloma.ca.
The Queen’s Own Rifles Day is being held on Nov. 7, 2015. Photo via casaloma.ca.

Since its inception in 1860, the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada has been called to service during the Fenian Raids and the North West Rebellion, as well as the two world wars. The regiment is based in Toronto, and is part of 4th Canadian Division’s 32 Canadian Brigade Group. Click here to read about the history of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

Officers with the Queen's Own Rifles, taken after 1900. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1244, Item 43).
Officers with the Queen’s Own Rifles, taken after 1900. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1244, Item 43).

Other events

Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair
Fall in love with the written word, or rekindle your love affair with it, at this book fair. No, Kindle readers won’t be for sale here. Rather, antiquarians will be able to find first editions and signed works, incunabula (a book printed before the start of the 16th century in Europe), illustrated books, as well as maps, prints, manuscripts and other treasures. The fair is being held at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) from Friday to Sunday. It is free with admission to the AGO.

The Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair in 2014. Photo via torontoantiquarianbookfair.com.
The Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair in 2014. Photo via torontoantiquarianbookfair.com.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
Bringing the country to the city! A beloved November tradition is back at Exhibition Place for its 93rd year. The fair starts Friday and runs until Nov. 15. Along with the farm animals, there are world class horse shows, exhibits, a butter tart competition, a wine garden, food, a petting farm and many other events and activities for all ages.

Big Bold Brass
There’s something lovely and beautiful about the deep rich sounds of lower-pitched instruments like the tuba.

A man playing a tuba. GETTY IMAGES/Digital Vision
A man playing a tuba. GETTY IMAGES/Digital Vision

Hear that and other instruments at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s concert celebrating all things brass on Saturday. One of the performances includes Richard Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries, which features the thumping tuba, trombones, trumpets and horns. Showtimes are at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Before the show, concert-goers can catch a performance by Toronto’s tuba quartet Euba in the lobby.

CN Tower Climb

It’s a little daunting but thousands of people are about to get the ultimate workout for a very good cause. On Saturday, it’s the CN Tower Climb for the United Way. You can register in-person for the public climb by going to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building, Hall C), with a fundraising minimum of $100. The United Way says those who conquer all 1,776 stairs will help make meaningful change for thousands of families in the city. The corporate challenge takes place on Sunday.

View of CN Tower and downtown Toronto from Ontario Place during sunset on Aug. 5, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Dominic Chan
View of CN Tower and downtown Toronto from Ontario Place during sunset on Aug. 5, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Dominic Chan

Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend
The careers of some hockey stars will be solidified into “legend” status this weekend. It’s induction weekend at the Hockey Hall of Fame, with a number of activities planned. You can see some retired big names in action Sunday during the Hall of Fame Legends’ Classic hockey game at the Air Canada Centre featuring Team Gilmore vs. Team Bure. The class of 2015 will be officially inducted on Monday.

Canada’s Walk of Fame
Some very famous Canadians are getting red-carpet ready for a glam afternoon in downtown Toronto on Saturday. Canada’s Walk of Fame is holding its 2015 induction ceremony, which will feature celebrities walking the red carpet including Michael Bublé, Silken Laumann, and Don Cherry & Ron MacLean. After the star presentation, there’s a show and concert at the Sony Centre hosted by Jason Priestly and featuring a performance by rising Pickering pop star Shawn Mendes. Click here for ticket information.

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean from Coach’s Corner. Photo via canadaswalkoffame.com.
Don Cherry and Ron MacLean from Coach’s Corner. Photo via canadaswalkoffame.com.

TTC closure

Partial closure on Line 2

Another subway shutdown this weekend. Trains won’t be running between Keele to St. George on the Bloor-Danforth line Saturday and Sunday because of track work.

All trains on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) will turn back westbound at Keele Station and eastbound at St George Station, but frequent shuttle buses will be running.

A TTC report proposing numbered subway lines was presented at a board meeting on Oct. 23, 2013. TTC

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