ERLICHMAN LANE! – unveiling July 17 2018 at 3:30pm
Public unveiling with the Erlichman family, Joe Cressy Councillor and Ed Janiszewski of the Seaton village Lane Naming Project
Location: Manning St just north of Bloor (Pour Boys)
IN HONOUR OF AARON AND MADZIA ERLICHMAN
Our parents, Aaron and Madzia Erlichman, immigrated to Canada from Belgium in 1951 with their son Charles, having endured World War II in Europe. Madzia, who was the only member of her family to survive the concentration camps, and Aaron, who was hidden with his parents and sister from Nazi persecution in Belgium, had met and married in Belgium after World War II and then came to Toronto penniless to start a new life. After the birth of their second son, Stephen, in Toronto, Aaron and Madzia took over the Manning Cigar Store at 664 Bloor St. West (the northwest corner of Manning and Bloor) in the early 1950’s. This convenience store served the neighbourhood as a place to buy basic food items like milk and bread, as well as cigarettes, magazines, watches and many other things. The neighbourhood children would come to the store for ice cream and comic books and Madzia often could be seen at the front of the store scooping ice cream into cones for those children.
Aaron and Madzia’s hope was to create a milieu for their children in which they could succeed through hard work and learning. From the early 1950’s until 1964 Aaron and Madzia ran the Manning Cigar Store from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week while bringing up their two sons in a rented apartment above the store. In this environment, Aaron and Madzia taught Charles and Stephen the importance of education and the value of hard work. During those years, Charles attended Palmerston Avenue Public School followed by Essex Street Senior Public School and then Harbord Collegiate and Stephen attended Palmerston Avenue Public School.
Aaron taught his sons to ride bicycles in the lane between Manning and Clinton Avenues just north of Bloor St. The lane was also an important place for the neighbourhood children to play ball hockey during hockey season and baseball during the summer. When someone hit a high fly, the ball would land on the roof of Warburton’s Ford dealership which was on the northwest corner of the lane and Manning Avenue. One of the boys would then sneak up through the service department to the roof, where the new cars were parked, to retrieve the ball. Although Aaron never learned how to skate, Charles and Stephen were taught how to roller skate on Manning Avenue and to ice skate on the natural ice rink at Christie Pits. Christie Pits also was where the boys would swim in the summer and toboggan in the winter. Saturdays were a treat for Charles and Stephen as Madzia would often take them across Bloor Street to watch the double feature, with cartoons playing during intermission, at the Metro movie theatre (which was located just west of the Power supermarket, right across the street from the Manning Cigar Store, where Madzia would do the grocery shopping). Occasionally they went to the Alhambra theatre further east on Bloor Street near Bathurst and sometimes to the Midtown theatre east of Bathurst.
Had Aaron and Madzia lived longer, they would have seen the fulfillment of their “Canadian dream” of a successful new life for their family away from the ravages of war torn Europe, a dream which began with the Manning Cigar Store at the northwest corner of Manning and Bloor.
Currently, 664 Bloor Street west is the location of the “Greek in The Village” restaurant, with “Pour Boy” pub in the rear. Warburton’s Ford (Monarch) Dealership now has housing units north of the lane.
All photos are courtesy of Stephen and Charles Erlichman.
A very special thank you to Ed Janiszewski, lead Seaton Village Lane Naming Project and the Community History Project, to the Erlichman family and City Staff for their efforts to make this Lane naming and unveiling possible.