When the mayor and aldermen of the Borough of North York realized that the 50th anniversary of the establishment of North York was on the horizon, they were galvanized into action. A Golden Anniversary Committee was formed in 1971 to develop a series of celebratory events to take place in 1972.
The scope and number of events devised by the Committee was almost dizzying. The annual North York Dominion Day parade was overhauled to have a Golden Anniversary theme. There was a Golden Anniversary song competition. The Borough created a Golden Anniversary medallion, which was to be presented to all North York residents having their 50th wedding anniversary, or celebrating their 50th birthday in 1972. In addition to a Miss North York Golden Anniversary mini-skirt contest, there was to be a Mrs. North York Golden Anniversary 50-year-old contest – something for everyone!
A Golden Anniversary symbol was created and it was printed on flags, all soft drink and coffee cups used by the Parks and Recreation Department, and all summer camp uniforms. The list of planned events and commemorative items goes on and on, and it is clear that the anniversary was a very big deal.
The Committee also decided that a time capsule would be purchased and filled with items emblematic of North York in 1972. This time capsule was sealed and inserted into an outdoor wall near the Municipal Building at 5000 Yonge Street. The location of the capsule was identified by a plaque which listed the mayor and aldermen of the time, and indicated that the time capsule would be opened at 5:00 pm on July 13, 2022 – 50 years after it was installed. Later in 1978, when the North York Civic Centre at 5100 Yonge Street was built, the time capsule and plaque were moved to an inside wall of the main floor in that facility.
In due course, 50 years passed, and it was almost time to open the time capsule. The daughter of Golden Anniversary Committee co-chair Alderman Bob Yuill, Debbie Marquis, sent out a tweet that set off a flurry of activity. The City’s Strategic Protocol and External Relations unit organized a wonderful event involving Then-Mayor John Tory, as well as Debbie Marquis and her daughter, and at 5:00 p.m. on the dot the capsule was opened.
It quickly became clear that time had not been kind to the contents of the capsule. At some point during its long interment, moisture had seeped in and there was a considerable amount of mould damage to the items within.
Fortunately for posterity’s sake, many of the items that were in the time capsule were not unique and clean copies of most of them can be found in the Archives’ collection and the Historical Collection managed by Museum Services. Paper items suffered the worst damage, but a plastic sleeve filled with coins had also deteriorated.
One of the unique items from the capsule were several hand-written letters provided by family members of the Committee’s co-chairs, aldermen Bob Yuill and William Sutherland. In one letter, 16-year-old Judy Sutherland writes of her hope that in 50 years, the world will be closer to achieving peace. In a rather cheeky postscript, she also hopes that the Yonge Subway north extension (from Eglinton to Finch) will be completed by 2022. In fact, the subway extension was completed in March 1973, only five years after construction began. Judy also included a one-dollar bill. With the number of bills and coins included in the time capsule, it would be interesting to know if the capsule contributors thought that cash money would be gone from our lives in 2022 – they were very nearly right.
The Golden Anniversary Committee also commissioned the production of 100,000 wooden nickels. Unlike the metal coins, these wooden nickels survived their 50-year entombment quite well.
|Toronto Daily Star June 14, 1972||Minutes of the meeting of Council held on August 21, 1972||Borough of North York Local 373 Union Agreement|
|The Sun September 11, 1972||North York development information||Gold and bronze Golden Anniversary Medallions|
|Jubilee Issue of the Mirror||Minutes from the Re-enactment of the first Council Meeting June 13, 1972||North York Golden Anniversary Wooden Nickels|
|The Willowdale Post September 6, 1972||Golden Anniversary Committee Report to Council April 10, 1972||Canadian Mint Set 1972|
|District 11 Plan||Living in North York information package||Parks and Recreation Department information|
|Copy of By-law 7625 and other related zoning material||History of the Borough of North York||Information from Alderman Sutherland and family|
|Annual Report Department of Planning and Development||North York Golden Anniversary Beer Mug||Information from Alderman Yuill and family|
|Minutes of the meeting of the Planning Board held on August 2, 1972||North York Golden Anniversary Flags||Letter to citizens and Council of Borough of North York 2022|