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East York people, places, events & insights

Naming of laneways to honour two East York immigrant icons

Mural being painted in Aug 2016 on wall of Royal Beef in newly named Paul Estrela Lane -GARY W-P

Mural being painted in Aug 2016 on wall of Royal Beef in newly named Paul Estrela Lane -GARY W-P

Two laneways in East York are being given official names honouring icons of the local immigrant Italian community thanks to the efforts of local councillor Janet Davis and community members who petitioned the Toronto & East York Community Council for the recognition.

The alley north of Danforth Avenue between Woodbine Ave. and Woodmount Ave. will be known as Paul Estrela Lane in honour of the late founder of iconic local business Royal Beef at 1968 Danforth, which is still operated by the late butcher’s wife Carmen Estrela.

The passageway between Woodmount and and Glebemount Ave. will be named Angelone Lane to honour Vincenzina Angelone, a retired longtime teacher for the Toronto Catholic District School Board at the local St. Brigid Catholic School.

Both of the individuals, Ward 31 councillor Davis told the council, which has authority over local street and lane namings, were immigrants to Canada, Mr. Estrela from Portugal and Mrs. Angelone from Italy.

Gay Stephenson speaks to TEYCC meeting July 13 speaking re laneway renamings -YOUTUBE

Gay Stephenson speaks to TEYCC meeting July 13 speaking re laneway renamings -YOUTUBE

The June 13 meeting, which unanimously approved her motion, also heard from a representative of the Danforth East Community Association, which was active in gathering petition signatures to have the laneways designated to honour the individuals.

DECA board member Gay Stephenson noted in her presentation that during a Laneway Crawl arts event held in the Paul Estrela Lane last August, residents were asked to suggest a name for the passageway “and there were two clear winners,” Angelone and Estrela, “who are both longtime members of our community.

“These special people are remembered and respected by many in our community who knew them well and when we went door to door to confirm those names we were overwhelmed with support for both of those people.”

VIncey Angelone beaming at her 2015 retirement party -TCDSB

Vincey Angelone beaming at her 2015 retirement party -TCDSB

Angelone, who moved to Woodmount Ave. when she was five years old, attended St. Brigid as a girl and went on to teach there for 46 years —the second-longest tenure of any teacher in the history of the local Catholic school board, Ms. Stevenson noted.  She also served on the school’s Parent-Teacher council, which gave her a pin of distinction at her 2015 retirement party, coached local soccer teams and was the catechist for thousands of students as they prepared for their First Holy Communion.

“Vincey” as the teacher was known by the generations of students she guided, “is so revered by the students and all of the residents in this neighbourhood and is absolutely thrilled” to have a laneway named after her, Davis told the June 13 meeting.

Although Mr. Estrela was actually from Portugal, she said, “he married an Italian woman, learned Italian and became as Italian as everyone else in the neighbourhood and was highly regarded and highly respected” by that community.

Carmen Estrela in the laneway behind Royal Beef during the DECA Laneway Crawl last August. -JENNIFER WILSON

Carmen Estrela in the laneway behind Royal Beef during the DECA Laneway Crawl last August. -JENNIFER WILSON

“That little business is one of the Italian businesses that has changed over time to accommodate changing demographics and has kept alive and has led some of the transformation on Danforth East,” she noted.

Started by the couple in 1985, Royal Beef has sponsored local sports teams and school carnivals, provided part-time jobs for local youth and prior to the formation of the local BIA took part with other Danforth business owners in beautification projects.  It was Mr. Estrela, along with the owner of Seb’s Cappuccino, who initiated the tradition of putting up Christmas lights in East Lynn Park, purchasing the lights out of their own pockets and engaging members of the local fire department to do the stringing.

“The two people who emerged are so appropriate because they do reflect the cultural heritage of this little strip of the Danforth,” Davis said.

“In the 1960s and 1970s it had a very large influx of Italian immigrants set up small businesses such as jewellers, coffee bars and restaurants and over the years that sensibility and feel at our end of the Danforth has remained,” she said.

It’s expected that once the new signs identifying the laneways are ready to be installed that a ceremony to unveil them will be held some time this fall, according to a Davis spokesperson.

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