Between 1974 and 1998, 35 notable Etobicoke citizens were inducted into the Etobicoke Hall of Fame. After the amalgamation of Etobicoke with the City of Toronto in 1998, this program was discontinued. In 2015, the Etobicoke Hall of Fame underwent a renovation, to provide a more visually pleasing and informative recognition of these remarkable residents and their contributions. This important part of Etobicoke’s history is located in the Council Chambers foyer at the Etobicoke Civic Centre.

The Etobicoke Hall of Fame was initiated in 1974, with the induction of 10 notable citizens who shaped the early communities of Etobicoke. The program lapsed for a decade until it was revived in 1984 when Doug Holyday, who was then Alderman of the Etobicoke City Council, nominated broadcasting legend Gordon Sinclair. The Hall of Fame was relocated from the lower level hallway to a dedicated space outside of the Council Chambers in order to properly honour these outstanding individuals.

A Selection Committee, which included interested citizens and a media representative from the Etobicoke Guardian, was formed to evaluate future nominations. The opportunity for members of the public to nominate their fellow citizens was advertised annually in local newspapers and by MacLean Hunter Cable 10. The Selection Committee decided on the recipients of the award based on the following criteria:

  • Persons selected must, through personal sacrifice and/or outstanding citizenship have made a special contribution or brought special honour to Etobicoke while residing here.
  • The award shall be given in recognition of a long-term period of public-spirited activities, rather than a spontaneous act.
  • The award shall not be made solely in recognition of success of achievement in any given profession or occupation which would manifest personal success or private gain.

Elected or appointed government officials are not eligible for the award while they still hold office.
Several outstanding Etobicoke residents were inducted into the Hall of Fame following its revival in 1984 but it wasn’t until 1987 that the inaugural Civic Awards Ceremony was held at the Old Mill, to fully honour the inductees. The awards ceremony later evolved into an annual gala event, the Awards of Excellence, which combined the presentation of several civic awards. For over a decade, many distinguished citizens were inducted into the Hall of Fame at these annual ceremonies until, upon the amalgamation of Etobicoke into the City of Toronto in 1998, the Etobicoke Hall of Fame and other civic awards were retired.

In 2015, in response to public concern about the faded and outdated display, the Etobicoke York Community Council approved plans to restore the Etobicoke Hall of Fame, in order to honour these thirty-five remarkable Etobicoke citizens once more. Portraits were photographed, restored and reframed and biographical information was provided to tell the stories of how the Hall of Fame members contributed to the history and growth of Etobicoke. The restoration project was made possible through the combined efforts of many City of Toronto staff and volunteers, and the restored Etobicoke Hall of Fame was reopened to the public on October 6, 2015.

The restoration of the Etobicoke Hall of Fame was made possible through the support of many individuals and City of Toronto departments and staff.

Thanks to the Etobicoke York Community Council for their financial support of the project and for their formal recognition of the Hall of Fame restoration at the October 6, 2015 Etobicoke York Community Council meeting.

This project was led by staff of the Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery, Arts Services, Economic Development & Culture, however much of the critical work was completed by our volunteers. Diana Sernick completed the lion’s share of the research for the individual members and wrote the inductee biographies. Emma Ward, our Humber College Cultural Management intern, worked on every aspect of the project, including initial research, fact-checking, writing of the Hall of Fame history, and assisting with the reframing of the photographs. Joe DiLecce donated his incredible skills to photograph, digitally correct and reprint all of the original portraits. Thelma Amos provided a guiding hand from the initial design decisions, through to the entire restoration of the portrait installation. Her sharp eye was invaluable in the biography editing process. Our thanks and gratitude to these four volunteers who gave their time and expertise so generously to the project.

We are grateful to Garry Ross and Rick Lutchman, Etobicoke Civic Centre Facilities Operations, for their support in renovating the space for the renewed Hall of Fame. Thanks also to Barbara Sullivan, Protocol Services, for providing financial support for the portrait restoration. Thanks to Pamela Wachna and Michael Dowbenka, Museum & Heritage Services, for both their expert advice and hands-on assistance with matting and framing. Thanks to Rosemary Mackenzie, City Clerk’s Office and Kim Edgar, Councillor Grimes’ office, for their assistance in liaising with the Etobicoke York Community Council. Thanks to Nadira Pattison and Katriina Campitelli, Arts Services, for your project support.

We are very grateful for the research support provided by the City of Toronto Archives.

We also wish to recognize the individuals who provided written or verbal information that helped us to fill in the gaps on the history of the Hall of Fame: Bev Kurmey, Doug Holyday, Molly Sutherland, Denise Harris, Cathie Best, Mike Lipowski and Catherine Campbell.

And finally, a special thanks to the members of the public who created the impetus for this restoration by voicing their concern over the declining state of the Etobicoke Hall of Fame.

We hope that you enjoy the exhibit that you have inspired.

Denise Dickin
Senior Arts Consultant, West District
Arts Services, Arts & Culture, EDC
City of Toronto

Note: Research for the Etobicoke Hall of Fame was conducted with care by our volunteers. If you would like to provide us with any additional information or corrections, please contact the Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery at eccartgallery@toronto.ca.

JUNE CALLWOOD

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ELIZABETH (BETTY) COULTER

1991 Civic Awards Program nominations

DR. ANN CURTIN

Franklin Carmichael Art Group website

MARIE CURTIS

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STEWART DAVIDSON SR

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MURRAY & MARGARET DRYDEN

Murray Dryden, Wikipedia entry

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THOMAS FISHER

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

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WILLIAM GAMBLE

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

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William Gamble, Wikipedia entry

F. EDNA GARDNER

1991 Civic Awards Program nominations

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VERA HALHED

1996 Civic Awards of Excellence Program nominations

JOHN B. HAMILTON

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MORFUDD HARRIES

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J PAGE HARSHMAN

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1990 Civic Award Program nominations

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Cliff Lumsdon, Wikipedia entry

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John Palmer MacBeth, Wikipedia entry

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JAMES A. MCNABB

1995 Civic Awards of Excellence Programs nominations

NORA POWNALL

1994 Civic Awards of Excellence Programs nominations

ALICE RYCROFT

1990 Civic Awards Programs nominations

“Outstanding Ontario seniors recognized by the province,” DurhamRegion.com (Metroland Media)

GUS RYDER

Humber College website

KEMP SCOTT

Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame website

Humbervalley Hockey Association website

GORDON SINCLAIR

“Gordon Sinclair dies at 83,” CBC Digital Archives

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G.H. Wood Foundation website