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At Woodbine: The D. D. Summerville Pool



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The Donald D. Summerville pool, named after the former mayor, is known famously to locals as "The Olympic."

JIM RANKIN/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Jim Coyle Feature Writer

To travel east from Yonge St. aboard the Queen St. streetcar is, nowadays, to feel the need of a passport, trundling through the branded neighbourhoods, and (as the street signs would have one believe) distinct societies of first Corktown, then the Riverside District, then Leslieville.

Still, the oldest frontier crossing lies perhaps at Woodbine Ave., gateway to the Beach, a stretch of upscale real estate, semi-bohemianism and street-names of dignified Old World vintage — Hammersmith and Bellefair and Waverley and the like.

The corner of Woodbine and Queen is where walking tours of the Beach often begin, the iconic red firehouse just down the road the first major landmark announcing entry to that favoured realm.

Once upon a time, Woodbine was where some of the city's rough-and-tumble rubbed up against the quaintness of the Beach, where punters poured out of the Queen streetcar to play the ponies at Greenwood Raceway, until its lamented end in 1993.

South on Woodbine from Queen St., across Lakeshore Dr., remains the approach to east-end summertime — to the waterfront strands, the sandy beaches, the fabled boardwalk and also the Donald D. Summerville pool — known famously to locals as "The Olympic."

Summerville, an RCAF pilot during World War II, was the son of a Conservative MPP and himself became an east-end alderman in Toronto (as councillors were known in his day) and mayor in 1963.

Mayor Summerville, just 48, suffered a fatal heart attack while playing goal in a charity hockey tournament and died the same year.

The three-storey outdoor pool was built in his memory — at the time pretty much a state-of-the-art facility, Toronto's aquatic Taj Mahal, and the place to see and be-seen for young people on the make.

It had a 50-metre Olympic pool, a 25-metre training pool and a diving pool with 5- and 10-metre boards that, on more than a few occasions, made or ruined reputations.

If it is scruffier now than then ("the showers are pretty gross," according to one entry on a website review), the Summerville pool — home to such attractions as the national cannonball championships — remains an anchor at the foot of Woodbine Ave., and a place of blessed respite in the heat of a Toronto summer.

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The three-storey outdoor D. D. Summerville pool had a 50-metre Olympic pool, a 25-metre training pool and a diving pool with 5- and 10-metre boards.

TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

 

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