West End Phoenix stories

Every month, we select a few stories from the pages of WEP to publish online.
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My Humber River

STORY BY Martin Tielli
LAYOUT BY Christine Peters
ART ASSISTANCE BY Natasha Sasic

from JUNE/JULY 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

WE USED TO TAKE TRIPS
All my songs are true... especially the aulde ones that involve the Humber River. When I was a young boy, my quest for adventure always led to that stream. Everything good was North for me. Space, freedom, animals, no adults, the opportunity to build things. Build our own civilization! Collect things and make fire. Feed yourself. It was 1979 and I was 12. Christopher was the only person I found in grade school who really wanted to do this. He became my best friend, and that was no trite thing for a kid. It started out of necessity. I needed to do this but I couldn't do it alone. The goal? NORTH.

 

At public pools, the good far outweighs the gross

OPINION BY Katrina Onstad
ILLUSTRATION BY Frank Fiorentino

FROM JUNE/JULY 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Not to brag or anything, but I have two swimming pools. The public outdoor pools at Alexandra Park and Stanley Park (the Parks, Al and Stan, are not-so-distantly related, within a dozen blocks around Trinity Bellwoods Park) are my cooling station and people watching refuge, the backyards that sub in for the backyard I don’t have. They’re neighbourhood hubs and markers of the city I want to live in but don’t always feel like I do: open to all, well functioning and – this cannot be overstated or overvalued in our workaholic town – very, very fun.

 

West End Candidates' Score Card

REPORTING BY John Lorinc

FROM MAY 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Still not sure how you’re voting in the provincial election? See how the hopefuls and incumbents in your riding hold up under the WEP Rating

 

Squeezed Out

A COMIC BY Frankie Noone

FROM MAY 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

 

Ghosted: Victory Burlesque Theatre

STORY BY Alex Lifeson
ILLUSTRATION BY Casey McGlynn

FROM MAY 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Their shutters are down for good, but these places leave a mark.

The date was October 27, 1973, and Rush was opening for the New York Dolls. They were a pleasant enough group of fellows who spoke to us not at all, but enthusiastically enjoyed the vibrant conversation and company of their “friends” (I think they were), who also dressed like New York Dolls, but drunker.

 

Oakwood Basketball

The Long Reach of an Unsung School

STORY BY Kerry Manders and Dave Bidini
PHOTOS BY Charlie Lindsay

FROM APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Before the Raptors, there was the Oakwood Barons, a high school powerhouse on St. Clair Avenue. As the team headed to OFSAA this spring for its 13th consecutive year, we asked Oakwood alumni to reflect on what the school meant to them, what makes it great and why it still doesn’t get the respect it deserves

 

Mad Hockey Love

Mad Hockey Love

STORY BY Dave Bidini
PHOTOS BY Jalani Morgan

FROM APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

The 2017/18 Maple Leafs possess the most gifted collection of young players in the club’s 100-plus-year history. Whether they can kick at the darkness and turn their promise into a long-awaited Stanley Cup is something only the spring gods can know

 
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Donations for basketball court upgrades make a nice photo op, Andray Domise reports, but when it comes to giving at-risk youth better opportunities, sports are not enough

OPINION BY Andray Domise
ILLUSTRATION BY Frank Fiorentino

FROM APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Everybody has a Drake story. In a city like Toronto, whose Black demographic constitutes a single-digit percentage of its population, the globally known rapper is never farther than a friend-of-a-friend in any conversation about Toronto’s rapidly burgeoning hip-hop scene. Chezlie Alexander, a former community officer with Toronto Public Health, makes sure to get his story out of the way early. A youth known to him in the neighbourhood, lagging behind in school but in possession of a gift for beat-making, was introduced to Drake in the post-Degrassi years. Over a discussion of music and video games, the two hit it off, and the young man would go on to become a part of Drake’s OVO crew. “Drake has a real genuine heart,” Alexander tells me. “But I don’t think he fully understands the power he has in this city.”

 

Top 27 of All Time

West End Phoenix Top 27 West End athletes of all time

STORY BY Adam Proteau
ILLUSTRATIONS BY Stephanie Cheng

FROM APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Over the past hundred years, our catchment has produced athletes luminous in our imagination.
There are skaters, runners, swimmers, grapplers. There are scullers, scrappers and riders. You could debate this list and its order forever. But, more than a ranking, we hope it’s a discovery, a reminder of the great athletes who walked – and swam, fought and jumped – among us.

 

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye: The Galleria is in its death throes and yet the lights stay on

STORIES BY Paul Vermeersch, Phoebe Wang, Michael Winter, Hadiya Roderique, Melanie Morassutti, Dave Bidini, Peter Knegt, Megan Kinch
PHOTOS BY Jeff Harris

FROM FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

We asked eight writers and a photographer to find the meaning of the mall.

 

Rumble in the West

Rumble in the West: Getting Down in Etobicoke with the Women of the Square Circle

STORY BY Alicia Elliott
PHOTOS BY Sarah Palmer

FROM DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

A black-clad woman crouches in the corner of the squared circle and stares straight ahead, scowling, each hand reaching up to clutch one of the thick, black ropes on either side of her. Her lips are black, her hair is green, but the light makes everything look varying shades of red. This is no horror movie villain. This is Samantha Heights, a 28-year-old professional wrestler from Cincinnati, Ohio, waiting for her chance to prove herself in Smash Wrestling’s CANUSA Classic, the biggest women’s wrestling show in Canada. This year, the tournament is taking place at the Franklin Horner Community Centre in Etobicoke, the same place Smash got its start. 

 

In Ksenija's Kitchen

In Ksenija's Kitchen: Bosnian Soul Food The War Couldn't Touch

STORY BY Ivy Knight
PHOTOS BY Candace Nyaomi

FROM NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF WEST END PHOENIX

Ksenija Hotic is changing when I arrive at her apartment at Shaw and King. Her friend Yesha, with 3-month-old Sebastian in her arms, ushers me in as Hotic calls from the back that she’ll be out in a minute. Her apartment – full of crystals, decorative plates, doilies and framed photos surrounded by potted plants and hodgepodge bunches of flowers – is a blur of colour. So is Hotic, who emerges in a dress, a kaleidoscope of purples and pinks. “It’s very Bosnian,” she laughs, offering ginger tea. “I get the ginger juice from Bolt on Queen. When I grate it myself it just isn’t strong enough.”