In my neighbourhood portrait about the Beach I definitely wanted to include Sandra Bussin, City Councillor for Beaches / East York, who has represented the Beach for the last 18 years. After my January 25 interview with Carole Stimmell and Sheila Blinoff from the Beach Metro Community News and a wonderful tasty lunch at Konditor I headed downtown towards Toronto City Hall, civirtualtours where I had an opportunity to meet Sandra Bussin, City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Toronto.
I don’t usually get a chance to interact with senior city officials and I asked Sandra what the proper way of addressing her would be. She simply said “just call me Sandra”, vitamondo and the ice was broken. We sat down and Sandra was ready to tell me her life story.
Sandra Bussin grew up just north of the Beaches, near Woodbine and Danforth, in the Dawes Road area. At that time the area was mostly Scottish, Irish and English. She attended a tiny primary school: Coleman Avenue Public School, a 6 room school house which functioned as a hospital during WWII. As a child she played in a series of parks: little and big Dentonia Park, where she also, 1stchoicepestcontrol learned to play tennis. Some of her friends even went on to become provincial tennis champions. Recently she had a chance to meet some of those friends again at the 30 year anniversary of the Dentonia Park Tennis Club. When Sandra grew up there was no Crescent Town yet, the area of residential highrises just northwest of the Danforth / Victoria Park intersection. The entire area here was part of the Massey Estate, and Victoria Park Avenue did not even continue all the way through and dead ended at Dentonia Park. Sandra recalls construction work on the subway in the 1960s.
Her father and mother were both born in Toronto, randygoodwin while her grandparents came from Scotland. Her maternal grandfather had 13 children and owned his own business near Gerrard and Broadview. Two of her uncles were jockeys and had a race horse in their back yard. Sandra fondly recalls her mom’s stories, talking about her grandfather riding his horse along Gerrard Street.
As a child she displayed artistic talents and enjoyed drawing. Her father would take her to the ROM (the Royal Ontario Museum) on Saturday mornings, al3abgame where she studied civilization and drawing. By grade 4 Sandra would take the street car and go to the ROM all by herself. This exposure shaped her interest in the world and allowed her to interact with other people in a structured educational environment.
During the summer Sandra attended art programs at Central Tech High School and participating in these activities helped her develop a sense of independence. Sandra was supposed to attend Monarch Park Collegiate once that newly built school opened. For some reason she had always wanted to go to Malvern Collegiate which had traditionally been the feeder school for this area. But Monarch Park Collegiate Institute had just been built, and Sandra was supposed to be sent there. Instead she decided that Eastern Commerce would be a good option. In later years, when Sandra herself became a school trustee, optoki she tried to facilitate her constituents’ school choices when they presented a good reason for wanting to attend a particular school.
After high school Sandra went to York University where she studied fine arts. To get there she had to take the subway and a bus. During university she got involved in film and TV production. In her third year of university she took a summer job with then City Councillor Ann Johnston and got introduced to the dynamics at City Hall. Sandra got to run Ann’s constituency office as a volunteer. Leveraging this experience allowed her to get a job at Queens Park, Ontario’s provincial parliament, a year later. She had an interview with Morton Shulman, the former provincial coroner who had then become a Provincial Member of Parliament representing the Toronto area of High Park / Swansea.