Investing in the Community

Investing in the community and hospital of Michael’s birth

The East York that Michael Garron arrived into in 1961 was very different than today’s East York. As was the hospital in which he was born.

At the time of Michael’s birth, the Garron family lived in East York. Later, the Garrons went on to live in Hamilton, Jamaica and other parts of the GTA but they never forgot the community into which Michael was born. Their $50 million gift is an investment in that community.

East York in 1961

East York, at that time, was one of 13 municipalities in the Toronto area. Still called a township, its population was just over 70,000 and it was known as a working class residential community. Reeve True Davidson presided over the township’s council in her signature hats.

It was a conservative community with business people petitioning to maintain the early closure laws that required all businesses to close promptly at 6 p.m. In a public vote that year, liquor sales in restaurants and dining lounges were defeated although Sunday sports were approved. And Council agreed that the bulldog representing tenacity should be East York’s symbol.

But change was afoot. The long-time Conservative riding went to the NDP for the first time. It would remain an NDP stronghold for most of the next 30 years.  July 1st celebrations outgrew the Township Hall lawn and moved to Cedarvale Park. And one of Canada’s first enclosed shopping malls, Danforth Shoppers World, opened for business. The mall also hosted and lent its name to the first pharmacy owned by Murray Koffler, the beginning of what is now known as the Shoppers Drug Mart chain.

The hospital of the day

When the Garrons arrived at the hospital for Michael’s birth, it was smaller too. The eastern most wings of the hospital (G, H and J), housing today’s Emergency Department, patient care areas, diagnostic imaging and intensive care units were not yet built and the nursing residence at the north end of the property was full of nurses in training for careers in health care.

During the 50s, an increasing baby boom hastened a military wing’s (F Wing) conversion to an obstetrics ward. As the only acute care hospital east of the Don River, Toronto East General was serving Canada’s fastest growing community. By the time Michael was born, the hospital had 647 beds and 117 bassinets for babies and was the birth place of more than 5,000 babies a year, the highest number in Canada!

In the early 60s, Toronto East General led Ontario with its first in-vitro fertilization program, world-renowned orthopedics and a leading diagnostic tool of the day, a $1.5 million CAT scan unit. In 1961, the year Michael was born, the hospital opened a 10-bed intensive care unit, one of only 12 in the entire province.