AIA History

A Short History of the Algonquin Island Association (AIA)

The first houses on Algonquin Island were floated down by barge from Hanlan’s Point in 1938, and were placed around the periphery of the Island. The houses on the interior streets were later built after WWII, when many returned veterans used their housing grants to build a home. By 1949, most of the 110 lots on Algonquin were taken.

As many Algonquin residents began to stay in their homes over the winter a vibrant community formed, holding bridge parties, skating parties on the lagoon, and other social events. They built an AIA clubhouse in 1950. This building immediately became the focus of community life, hosting a New Year’s Dance, a bridge club, a garden club, a drama society, badminton, yoga, and dance classes. In 1964, a regular play program for moms and preschoolers was also set up at the AIA (early beginnings of the Waterfront Montessori that continues to thrive today).

In June 1989 the AIA clubhouse burned to the ground in a tragic fire. However, committees were immediately formed to rebuild the AIA, as a huge co-operative effort. By the end of 1990, the new clubhouse was in full use. Since then, it has been used by the entire Island community as a winter community centre, holding a wide range of activities: an annual Christmas Boutique of Island handicrafts, a Valentine Dance, a New Year’s Dance, yoga, dancing classes, cooking classes for kids, book readings, film nights, poker, euchre, and dart tournaments and more.

In the summer months, the Island community shifts its location over to the Ward’s Island Association clubhouse (WIA) for organized community fun. During the prime summer months, the beautiful AIA clubhouse is available to city folks for weddings, reunions, private celebrations, retreats and seminars. Torontonians are welcome to enjoy this wonderful facility, situated amid acres of pristine parkland with the most gorgeous skyline patio.

The Fire of 1989

On June 26,1989, there was fire at the AIA that destroyed the building. There had been a work party to tear off the roof the day before. There were wide spaces between the old roof boards exposing the paper-backed insulation. While using a propane torch to lay down the new roof, the paper caught fire and ran underneath the boards. The roofer was unable to extinguish the fire. The fire dept finally arrived, but were unable to put out the fire. The old pumper truck had a small water load and the water dribbled out of the fire hydrants. The fire boats draught was too deep to get by the sea wall. Finally the police boat brought sump pumps and the fire was finally put out. By that time, the roof had collapsed and caused serious damage to 3 of  the 4 walls.

Members of the Toads (name for the executive, Alice Norton, Michelle Moses, Joey Gladding, Dorte  Nielson, Bryan Burgess, Sheila McCusker and Leida Englar) and other community members stood In shock and sadness.

But being this amazing community with Martin Earle as head Carpenter and Joey as Project Manager and Liz Amer as councillor and endless hours of donations of work, food and money the AIA rose from the ashes and stands today.

At that Time there was acrimony over the settling of our lease, but as we have seen throughout this flood Islanders pulled together and helped. We thank the community to help us build and keep our building.

Next time you're visiting the building, take a moment to look at the archives in the North alcove, that Carl Bregman has helped erect commemorating the building. Many pictures of the fire are included with these historical memories.

Algonquin Island Association Clubhouse

The History the Flying Toad by Rick/Simon

The Flying Toad image goes back to the early 1980’s when toads were more numerous on the island. They would flee to the boardwalk to escape drowning after a heavy rain. There, they were occasionally flattened by passing bicycles. I collected some of these after they dried in the sun. Their shapes reminded me of Egyptian cartouches and I started adding bird wings to  make them more mythical. I asked Brad Harley to refine the concept in one of his iconic drawings. This symbolic image became the logo of the Islanders who would not be crushed. The Flying Toad Squad were the resisters who were willing to commit civil disobedience in the cause of Saving Island Homes.

AIA Constitution

Sherriff's Notice

Constitution Algonquin Island Association.pdf
Sheriff's Notice To Vacate.pdf