Bloor West Village

The Neighbourhood: 1941-’42

Tommy Brioux (right) and a young lady named, we think, Rita

This film is so my dad. Ross Brioux was a real neighbourhood guy, going door-to-door calling on the locals. Many became lifelong friends including brothers “Bus” and “Sping” Turner. The fact my dad knew guys named “Bus” and “Sping” is so him, too. Men of the early ’40s had nicknames pulled from daily newspaper comic strips or popular rado shows that stuck long past the relevance, if not the longevity, of those pre-TV, pop culture sources.

The Turners were on Runnymede, the Briouxs on Beresford. Others lived on Durie or one or two streets over in the same Toronto “Junction” neighbourhood now better known as Bloor West Village. In the film, dad also calls on a few local relatives, including his mom Ada’s kin the Guerins and his older brother Uleric Brioux. Uleric’s children Marylou, “Bud” and Jerry are shown getting up to some mischief in the snow.

High Park toboggin runs

Not far was Toronto’s High Park, featured in this film in a black and white section where dad and his friends go tobogganing down by Grenadier Pond. This was the Jurassic Park of its day, a place where Toronto’s young people gathered outdoors in the winter months. This was way back when whizzing past trees on sleds and skiis did not run afoul of insurance restrictions.

Two New Year’s Eve parties — one shot on Jan. 1, 1941 and the other, in colour, the same night in 1942 — show Ross and the gang in full party swing. Attending the party — held at my granparent’s house on Wilgar in The Kingsway — were people I knew later as Bud and Cecile, Jack and Marie or Nin and Rudy, although they weren’t all paired up at this time. It was the prime dating and dancing window for a generation soon off to war.

Come back to a time of great innocence for men like my dad and the entire Dominion of Canada. War would soon change everything, but not before one last toboggin run.

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