Interview with Bernice Law (nee Butterfield), who grew up in Long Branch in the 1930s

Bernice Law explains what used to be in place in the 1930s in the area of Exmoor Drive and the Long Branch TTC loop, Oct. 18, 2013. Jaan Pill photo

As I’ve explained at a Comment in another post, I did an interview on Oct. 18, 2013 with Bernice Law (nee Butterfield), who was born in 1924 and lived at 86 Forty First Street, at a house that her father built. I’ve done several previous interviews with her. Now that I’m getting up to speed on professional video and sound editing, I’ll be able to put the interviews together as an online video.

Later in the day I began to assemble the video and audio files. I’ve found that an editing course at Ryerson University and a book entitled Adobe Premiere Pro CC in a Classroom is a good way to get started in learning how to edit such files.

Life stories at Long Branch Library

Some years ago, Bernice Law put together a series of life stories from long-time Long Branch residents. The histories are available at the Long Branch Library. Jane Fairburn, author of Along the Shore (2013), has mentioned to me that the stories were very helpful during her research about Long Branch. She has quoted from them in her book, now in its second printing. Bernice has done highly valuable work in preserving some of the early history of Long Branch in this way.

Exmoor Drive

In the course of the interview, we drove along Exmoor Drive by the Long Branch GO Station and along Forty First Street and then down James Street, after which we drove along Lake Shore Blvd. West to the parking lot at the west side of Marie Curtis Park. We would stop the car to talk, at different points along the way.

I mentioned that one of the houses on Exmoor reminded me of a house in the Yukon. Bernice Law asked if I’d been to the Yukon. I said, “No, but I’ve seen pictures of old houses in the Yukon.”

Bernice explained to me the changes in the configuration of the land, in all of the areas we visited, and told me about the garages that were located to the west and east of the corner of Forty First and Lake Shore Blvd. West. One of the garages is visible in a November 1949 aerial photo of the area. I was able to show a map of where the radial railway used to run and where it crossed Etobicoke Creek.

Three police officers, one of whom had a blacksmith shop

She also told me great stories about the three police officers including one named Maloney, who patrolled the area and was very helpful in ensuring the safety of children as they travelled about the community. Maloney also had a blacksmith shop, which Bernice enjoyed visiting. The police chief was named Smythe – I don’t know if I’ve spelled that correctly. More than one of the people I’ve spoken with about Long Branch history have mentioned him.

Bernice Law mentioned that in the 1930s, the cottage community on Lake Promenade – in days when Lake Promenade extended westward, along where the south branch of Etobicoke Creek used to run – were a very active community. This was especially the case for residents living on the south side of Lake Promenade at that location.

They would organize all manner of events including regattas and one where people try to climb a greasy pole. She told me all kinds of things that we’ll be able to share on future Jane’s walks. She arranged for the interview so that I would have some additional details, that I didn’t know about, to share at future Jane’s Walks in Long Branch.

Jane’s Walk, May 3 and 4, 2014

The next Long Branch Jane’s Walk is on May 3 and 4, 2014, starting at the East Parking Lot at Marie Curtis Park, not far from the corner of Forty Second Street and Lake Promenade. The walks, led by Jaan Pill and Mike James, begin at 10:30 each day and end at 12:00 pm. A Jane’s Walk is a walking conversation. Everyone who has an interest in Long Branch is most welcome to attend.

I owe thanks to Councillor Mark Grimes’ office for encouraging me, some years ago, to become involved with Jane’s Walk. I owe thanks as well to Mike James of Brampton, who grew up in New Toronto, for helping us get started. The walks offer a great way to share new information about local history.

Correction:  In a previous version, I had misspelled Bernice Law’s name and have since made the correction. My website has value to the extent that the information is accurate and balanced. I very much appreciate corrections.


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