Community Events 1968-1975
This is a listing of some public events during the years of 1968 to 1975 that were important to the American exile community in Toronto.
The Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam organized a large anti-war demonstration in Toronto.
The Union of New Canadians changed its name to the Union of American Exiles. The group met weekly at the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto. All American expatriates were invited and many individuals attended the sessions.
A federal election was called in Canada. Philip Mullins and many other exiles block-walked for the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Colleen found employment working on the lists of eligible voters. “The newspaper kept me on afterwards as a permanent employee, making me the only American I knew with a job. I bought a lot of groceries.” said Colleen.
The Liberal Party won the elections and Pierre Elliot Trudeau became Canada’s Prime Minister for the first time. His personal popularity among young people was described in one word as “Trudeaumania”.
The Union of American Exiles (UAE) organized a demonstration in front of the US Consulate on University Avenue in Toronto.
Sunday picnics and softball games at High Park sponsored by the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (TADP) and the Union of American Exiles continued to attract sizeable groups of Americans.
The house at 224 McCaul Street was always full with new exiles staying briefly.
October 1968 Dave Woodward and Michael Ormsby were arrested in front of the US Consulate during the UAE-sponsored International Days of Protest against the War. They spent the night in jail and everyone was worried that they would be deported to the US.
The Union of American Exiles continues to meet at the Newman Hall at the University of Toronto every other Sunday.
The residents of 224 McCaul Street and many of their friends crashed three different Halloween parties during a night of insanity and weirdness.
A dance hall called the Rock Pile opened at the Masonic Hall on Yonge Street near Davenport. Paul Butterfield, Frank Zappa, Credence Clearwater Revival and Canned Heat played in Toronto the following summer.
Greg Sperry and Janice Spellerberg were married on Christmas Day. The wedding was attended by a large group of people including the folks from the McCaul Street commune. The wedding guests sang Happy Birthday to Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao. An all-day feast and party followed with the entertainment provided by the guests themselves.
The Union of American Exiles became involved in the United Farm Worker’s Union Delano Grape Boycott. It was assigned to picket the Dominion Food Store at 750 College Street every Saturday.
Abraham Blank officiated at a Passover Seder at 218 McCaul Street using a radical Hagadah reprinted from Ramparts Magazine. Twenty-one people were present for the dinner, seated around a low table in the living room. Roast lamb was served along with 12 bottles of wine.
Chuck Wall and Lisa Steele lived at the Slum Goddess. On a Sunday Colleen’s baby Seth was christened in a ceremony presided over by Chuck Wall. The participants wore costumes and processed down the alley with the celebrants carrying dandelions. Those in attendance included Philip Mullins, Dave Woodward, Greg Sperry, Lisa Steele and Chuck Wall. A strong sense of community and a conviction that the world is on the verge of change grows among the American exile hippies in Toronto. Long evenings are spent discussing the state of the world, politics, life and art. The diversity of opinion ranges from those of Maoist Marxism to those of the Catholic Worker movement and from radical urban activism to those who advocate dropping out altogether and moving to the country. The strength and acceptance of the growing American exile community in Toronto encourages diverse opinions and spontaneous activism.
The Dodgers/Deserters softball games resumed at High Park on Sunday afternoons. The Union of American Exiles sponsored the games.
Chuck Wall organized a successful Pig Roast at Scarborough Bluffs to celebrate May Day. Residents of the three allied households (224 McCaul, 218 McCaul and 418 Dundas Streets) attended.
A large group from the Baldwin Street community attended the Toronto Pop Festival at UT Varsity Stadium. Festival performers included John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Hawkins and Sly and the Family Stone. Ragnarokr leather shop made hundreds of leather change pouches for venders at the festival, most of which were returned unsold.
Jimmy Wilson organized a street party on Baldwin Street that he calls the Festival of the Little Big Horn. Ed and Sheila Street, Chuck Wall and others provided the music.
The Baldwin Street hippie community held another big barbecue at Scarborough Bluffs with lots of good food, nude swimming in the lake and a great feeling of sharing in a common event.
The Union of American Exiles continued to host a “new arrivals night” every Thursday at its office at 44 St. George Street in Toronto. The UAE organized picketing of the Loblaws food store at Bloor and Bathurst Streets as part of the United Farm Worker’s California Grape boycott.
The Ragnarokr commune began weekly meetings at the leather shop at 11 Baldwin Street to discuss their craft school proposal. The meetings are well attended but generated no enthusiasm for the land-to-the-land project.
The Vietnam Mobilization Committee and the Red, White and Black co-sponsored a demonstration at the US Consulate in Toronto to protest the conviction of the Chicago Seven Conspiracy.
A rally at the University of Toronto Convocation Hall benefited the Chicago Seven Conspiracy Defense Fund.
The Rochdale Peace Center began Monday evening vigils at the US Consulate on University Avenue in Toronto.
The Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography mounted an exhibit of photographs from the demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Fifteen American exiles were arrested in front of the US Consulate during a large demonstration protesting the US invasion of Cambodia and the killing of students at Kent State University. The Harbinger alternative newspaper sponsored a Free Music Festival at High Park. The Group of Young American Women resumed the Sunday picnics and softball games at High Park to which American exiles are invited.
A demonstration on Baldwin Street to protest the Hydro Block led to several arrests when a group attempted to occupy one of the empty houses.
A rock concert called Festival Express performed at the CNE for a two-day show. Artists include The Who, Ten Years After, Traffic, the Grateful Dead, The Band and Janice Joplin.
THOG sponsored the first of a series of all-day Sunday music and theater festivals at the Bathurst Street United Church. The range of material performed included readings by Milton Acorn, music by the Perth County Conspiracy and skits and music drama pieces emphasizing psychodrama and political satire by THOG.
A cell of the Quebec Liberation Front in Quebec City kidnapped a British Trade Commissioner named Cross. Another cell kidnapped and murdered a member of the Government of Quebec. The Government of Canada imposed the War Measures Act giving the police extraordinary powers. The American exile community in Toronto prepared for police raids that never came.
The three American Deserters Committee hostels become self-supporting housing cooperatives.
The Committee to Aid Refugees from Militarism moved into the Hall and expanded their switchboard message service. Films were screened weekly at the Hall with admission by donation. The donations rarely met the cost of film rental.
The Hall served a Christmas dinner for the exile community. The Hall screened films on Monday and Thursday nights and offered classes in Kundalini Yoga.
In January Jessica Zimmerman and Shantih Lawrence were born followed by Ben Wilson in March. In January 1971 Joshua Starbuck and Alice Burdick were both less than a year old and the communities first baby, Seth Anderson, was not quite two years old. The following year in February Emily Spring was born. Her birth marked the end of the Baldwin Street hippie community’s baby boom and during the remaining years of the 1970s only four other children were born to the community’s families.
Mary Rauton of the Ragnarokr Leather Shop began attending classes in Kundalini Yoga held at the Hall. Ted Steiner of 3HO was the instructor.
The developers of St. Jamestown, already the largest concentration of high-rise residences in Canada, decided to expand to Bleeker Street. Community groups held a “City is for the People” demonstration at St. Jamestown. THOG performed a skit satirizing Toronto City Hall, sang some songs from their production of “Hamlet” and chanted in front of the Greenspoon construction office.
THOG performed “Hamlet” in a former Sunday school room, now called the New Theatre, at Bathurst United Church. A total of 21 free performances were given between May and August. The Hall Switchboard handled seat reservations and performance information. Crawley Films, Ltd. made a film of the play
A demonstration at the US Consulate on University Avenue protested the interment of US black power activist Angela Davis. Angela Davis was a university professor who was arrested for aiding a prisoner’s escape in California.
Allan Grossman of the Ontario government met with residents of the area around the Hydro Block to discuss the government’s plan to build the transformer station on the city block bounded by Baldwin, Henry, Beverly and Cecil Streets.
Steve Spring and Simone Bulger were married in a Unitarian church on St. Claire Avenue. The same minister married Greg Sperry and Janice Spellerberg in 1969. The wedding party was at Ragnarokr leather shop.
The Toronto Anti-Draft Program and AMEX Magazine held a press conference to call for unconditional amnesty for draft dodgers and deserters. The exile community expressed little interest in the issue of amnesty and the AMEX collective split into two factions. Most draft dodgers did not want an amnesty and had decided to stay in Canada permanently. Many responded to the talk of an amnesty by applying for Canadian citizenship.
March 1972 Carl Braden of the Southern Conference Education Fund, an early Civil Rights group, spoke in Toronto advocating amnesty for the draft dodgers.
The Canadian Coalition of War Resisters, consisting of various groups actively aiding American expatriates, met to discuss the issue of amnesty for US draft dodgers and deserters.
The community’s struggle against the expansion of the apartment complex at St. Jamestown continued. Activists occupied houses on Bleeker Street to prevent their demolition and to block the construction of the St. Jamestown South Apartment Complex.
Demonstrations at the US Consulate on University Avenue and in Ottawa protested the visit of US President Richard Nixon and his reception by the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. THOG and the Inner City Puppet Theatre brought large “Uncle Fatso” and “Death” puppets to the demonstration.
AMEX Magazine organized a conference in Toronto on the subject of amnesty for US draft dodgers and deserters.
The Liberal Party of Canada won a plurality of the popular vote in a Federal election but failed to win a majority in the House of Commons. Pierre Trudeau formed a coalition with the socialist New Democratic Party and continued as Prime Minister. Many American exiles worked in the NDP campaign.
The National Council for Universal and Unconditional Amnesty was organized in Toronto.
Chuck Wall oversaw another wild May Day Pig Roast, the Pig Gig, in a barn near Toronto. The party featured a pig cooked over bed springs using Don Holman’s Kansas City barbecue sauce. The Downchild Blues Band performed as well. Most of the Baldwin village crowd attended along with people from the Open Studio, Mary Ellen, Kevin and Judy. (The Open Studio is a warehouse run co-operatively by the artists who use the space. It is located west of Spadina and north of Queen Street.)
John Anderson of Morningstar Trading Company married his business partner Joan Levy in a ceremony officiated by Ted Steiner of 3HO. John Anderson, formerly of the Whole Earth Food Store, had a clothing store at 31 Baldwin Street. Ted Steiner, formerly of the Red, White and Black exile organization, is a teacher of Kundalini Yoga.
Steve Bush’s play “Richard 3rd Time” played at Toronto Workshop Productions with a fair degree of popular and critical approval. Steve Bush was moderately gratified but would have been happier if he would have been able to stage it two years earlier.
All of the Canadian immigrant aid groups met in Vancouver, B.C., and agree to support the movement for amnesty for American draft dodgers and deserters. AMEX held a rally at the University of Toronto demanding a Universal, Unconditional Amnesty and that the US government respect the Cease-fire Agreement of January 1973.
Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review played at the Maple Leaf Gardens.
Philip Berrigan and several Vietnamese spoke at a rally to denounce the treatment of political prisoners and dissidents in South Vietnam. Cedric Smith and Terry Jones (of the Perth County Conspiracy band) played music and Steve Bush read poems at the rally. The rally was held at a technical high school near Dovercourt and College Streets in Toronto.
Dave Bush of the Harbinger newspaper organized a street festival on Baldwin Street. The street was shut to traffic for a street dance and a stage erected at the intersection of Baldwin and Henry Streets. The dance was attracted a large crowd. However, the band refused to turn down the volume of their rock and roll music and this generated a lot of protests from the neighbors.
The Liberal Party of Canada won another election and Pierre Trudeau remained Prime Minister.
U.S. President Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment by the US Congress for his involvement with illegal activity by the GOP Committee to Re-Elect the President.
AMEX Magazine sponsored an Impeachment Victory Ball following US President Richard Nixon’s resignation. Bands featured are Bill King and the Knights of the Mystic Sea and Tom McKay.
US President Gerald Ford pardoned former US President Nixon and announced a “clemency program” for US draft dodgers and deserters. The International Conference of Exiled American War Resisters called for a boycott of Ford’s program. Despite widespread publicity and appeals by the US Government the exile community generally ignored the program and it is considered to have been a failure.
The US Justice Department issued a list of 6,000 draft resisters who were still wanted for draft-related crimes. Philip Mullins and Steve Spring are both on the list. Many are surprised to find they are not on the list of wanted men. Steve Burdick and Randy Rauton are not on the list.
The Toronto American Exiles Association was formed and, with AMEX Magazine, held an anti-clemency protest at the US Consulate. The group called for unconditional amnesty. Vigils continued at the Consulate until April 1975.
The US Justice Department reviewed all outstanding arrest warrants for draft offenses and issued a revised list of 4,400 draft resisters who were still wanted. For a variety of reasons, the charges against thousands of men have been dropped. Philip Mullins and Steve Spring were still on the list. The Toronto Anti-Draft Program and the US American Civil Liberties Union Amnesty Program encouraged draft dodgers to seek judicial review of the charge against them. Philip obtained a copy of his file from his draft board and submitted it to the ACLU for review. Either the ACLU or the TADP lost the file and nothing came of the review. The US Attorney is Pensacola wrote that he will not drop the charges against Philip but detailed the requirements for President Ford's clemency program.
The North Vietnamese seized the city of Saigon. The Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
The AMEX Magazine and the Toronto American Exile Association sponsored a dance to celebrate the Liberation of South Vietnam.
The May Day Pig Roast was held in Greg Sperry’s backyard in Toronto.
The Pathet Lao took control of Laos from the U.S.-backed government.
Katie Mullins was born to Colleen Anderson and George Mullins in Toronto.
Madelyn Averette and Mary Burdick organized a Soul Food Pot Luck dinner involving all of the Ragnarokr community. Madelyn worked at the Open Studio, visited Frostpocket with Fletcher, played lots of badminton in the backyard of 33 Baldwin Street and went on picnics on Toronto Island with the three girls from Mexican who were boarding at the Ragnarokr leather shop.
A Greek Pot Luck dinner held at the Burdick’s house on D’Arcy Street involved Jeff and Debbie Mullins, Paula and Michael Letki, Philip Mullins and Mary Rauton, George Mullins and Colleen Anderson, Randy Rauton, Steve and Simone Spring, Madelyn Averitte and Fletcher Starbuck, Steve and Mary Burdick, Bie Engelen and several children. When Steve got out the bong, Mary left after a while. She didn’t get uptight at first like she usually did. However when she got up to go Philip got up too and Simone said “But you can’t go, Phil. We haven’t even started to talk about antibiotics.”
Patricia Hearst and the remnants of the Symbionese Liberation Army were captured in San Francisco, California.
The Toronto Anti-Draft Program closed after operating for eight years. The American Civil Liberties Union Amnesty Program also closed. The National Council of Churches ended its Emergency Ministries program.
US President Carter announces a general amnesty for draft dodgers. He later announced a more limited “adjustment of status” program for deserters.
Use this link to return to the narrative, Baldwin Community, May 1969-July 1975