Finding a place to live
After being guided through the immigration process by the TADP, the most pressing problem for most exiles was to find a place to live. Many exiles rented apartments or rooms and began their life as New Canadians. Others chose to band together, after the manner of the “hippies”, into intentional communities called “co-ops” or, more commonly, “communes”. The draft dodgers and deserters were often ex-students or ex-soldiers who were accustomed to group living and many, driven by extreme poverty or loneliness, found communal life attractive. Most communes were nothing more than a group of 10 or 12 young people sharing a large, rented house but a few evolved into more durable institutions.
The communes were objects of interest to the news media probably because they were visible manifestations of what was called the “counterculture”. Many newspaper and magazine articles about communes appeared in the press. A newspaper article written in Toronto in 1971 listed 17 communes most of which were connected to a business, a newspaper, a political group or a producer’s co-operative (Diebel, The Toronto Telegram newspaper, January 23, 1971). In addition to those 17 there were dozens of others that were strictly housing communes. A study published in 1973 examined 30 communes, 22 of which were in the City of Toronto (Katz, “The Toronto Star newspaper, February 6, 1973). Most of Toronto’s communal houses were located downtown in the general vicinity of the University of Toronto. Among the most famous were the communes connected to businesses on Baldwin Street.
The narrative continues at Baldwin Street exile community, March-August 1969