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Tribute to celebrities we lost in 2019

A tribute to celebrities we lost in 2019 – they will be missed

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A tribute to celebrities we lost in 2019 – they will be missed

Annually, in a tradition bearing a slightly macabre twist, media recount the dead celebrities of the year. Here I am doing the same thing in Active Life. But there is merit in this exercise in the arts and entertainment arena. We pay tribute to those who may have affected our own lives through their work as actors, singers, filmmakers, producers, creators, writers, social activists and people.

Sometimes, their influence is even profound. I still cherish a 1978 interview I did with legendary actress Lillian Gish, who died in 1993, aged 99. She was my last living link with the silent film era. Gish championed the merits of silent films and the need for preservation, a passion that I share. I shed a tear at her passing.

Of course, the emotional reaction of a fan and/or film critic to a death is nothing like the reaction of family and friends – that is intensely personal. Our reaction is something more public and distant, even if we have met that person.

The roster of celebrities who passed in 2019 does have frisson for me on that public level. The following list is selective. I interviewed several of them during my career, but all created work that struck a chord in my soul.

Doris Day
Doris Day

Doris Day (died at 97) was an American big band singer, then an actress, and a movie and a TV star. I still enjoy the light-hearted, yet smart, romantic comedies she did with pal Rock Hudson. In particular, Pillow Talk (1959) stands out and she was Oscar-nominated.

Carol Channing
Carol Channing

Carol Channing (died at 97) was an American stage, movie and TV actress, a singer and a dancer. On Broadway, she was famous for her effervescent performance in Hello Dolly! (1964), winning best actress. What a doll!

Danny Aiello (died at 86) was an American actor who moved effortlessly between heavyweights such as The Godfather: Part II (1974), to comedies such as The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), to social commentary such as Do the Right Thing (1989), for which he was Oscar-nominated. Always a sweet guy in interviews.

Tim Conway
Tim Conway

Tim Conway (died at 85) was an American actor, comedian and writer. Highlights of The Carol Burnett Show always include his wonky and spontaneous contributions. Fun guy in life.

Caroll Spinney with Oscar the Grouch
Caroll Spinney with Oscar the Grouch

Caroll Spinney (died at 85) was an American puppeteer who originated both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for Sesame Street in 1969, and played both until 2018. Spinney may not have been famous, but his creations became legends for generations of children.

Peter Mayhew (died at 74) was an English hospital orderly who found his calling as the Wookie Chewbacca in the Star Wars series. This towering giant was a true gentleman.

John Singleton (died at 51) was an American filmmaker. He astounded Hollywood with his dramatic, and unsettling, debut at 24 with Boyz n the Hood (1991), which propelled him forward as the first African-American, and the youngest person ever, to be Oscar-nominated as best director.

More names of significance include Albert Finney, Peter Fonda, Diahann Carroll, Robert Forster, Valerie Harper, Toni Morrison, Rip Torn, Luke Perry, Bruno Ganz, Rutger Hauer, Hal Prince, Carol Lynley, John Wesley and, for classic rock lovers, Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

Bruce Kirkland‘s career spans more than four decades, working as a film critic for The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Journal and for 36 years at The Toronto Sun. bruce.kirkland@hotmail.com


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Neighbourhood Watch: Oshawa & Whitby

Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

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Is Oshawa & Whitby the next hot new destination?

As prospective homebuyers have looked outside the Toronto core in search of more affordable homes in recent years, many have headed to Hamilton, Burlington, Milton and other points west.

This migration may soon change.

“The west end of the GTA has a greater diversity of communities that are attracting a diverse range of buyers,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told Condo Life earlier this year. “In the past 10 years, there has been significant focus on the growth and development of these regions, whereas historically, Durham has not traditionally been viewed in this same regard. With the boom in areas towards the east, like Prince Edward County, and the affordability leveling out, we will likely see the tide begin to turn.”

So, there you go, prospective condo buyers – keep an eye on Whitby, Oshawa and other parts of Durham Region.

Podium Developments' Ironwood in North Oshawa
Podium Developments’ Ironwood in North Oshawa

Economic diversity

And don’t let any potential uncertainly over General Motors Canada’s announcement late last year that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant bother you. Oshawa, and other points in Durham, are about a lot more than one company.

“(The) employment sector in Oshawa has been shifting for some time, and Oshawa has healthily diversified to add technology, educational institutions, healthcare, administration and many professionals to its offerings of great jobs and companies in the market,” says Christian Huggett, vice-president, development, at Podium Developments. The company has a number of developments in the city.

“(The GM news) has not altered our plans,” he says. “We continue to believe that the outlook is bright for home sales in North Oshawa, buoyed by its proximity and relationship to schools, the 407 network, the significant growth occurring and planned for North Oshawa, and that our site is unique in its physical and design characteristics to make it stand out.”

Strong natural location just east of Toronto along Hwy. 401 are among the reasons Whitby and Oshawa draw attention. With Whitby just 59 kms from Toronto and Oshawa 62, commuting is a real option – particularly with recent GO Transit improvements and the expansion of Hwy. 407.

Durham Region Transit connects with the other cities in the region, including Pickering, Ajax, Clarington, Brock and Uxbridge. The 401 runs through the south of region, Hwy. 7 runs across its northern edge and the Hwy. 407 extension to Hwys. 35 and 115 across the top of Durham Region.

Translation? Getting to, from and around Durham is getting increasingly easy, which makes living here and working elsewhere a real possibility.

Expanding attractions

As with any growing municipality, Whitby and Oshawa also offer expanding amenity and retail options. The Oshawa Centre, for example, is the largest shopping complex in Durham and is home to more than 230 outlets. And in downtown Oshawa, of course, there’s a variety of unique shops and restaurants.

In Whitby, Pearson Lane is a historical development that houses boutiques, cafes and services.

Nature is also front and centre, as Oshawa is home to wildlife preserves such as the Pumphouse Marsh, Second Marsh and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Oshawa Botanical Gardens boasts North America’s largest contemporary peony collection, and on Oshawa’s Lake Ontario shoreline, Lakeview Park offers many picnic areas, playgrounds, sports fields, a waterfront pier and sandy beaches.

In Whitby, more than 100 parks more than 60 kilometres of trails, including the Bio-Diversity Trail, the Cullen Central Park Trails, Otter Creek Trail and the Whitby Shores Waterfront Trail, await residents. The 670-acre Lynde Shores Conservation area is known for its wildlife and provides habitat for nesting birds.

Location, location, location

Located east of Toronto in York Region, Durham forms the east end of the GTA . Whitby is 59 km from Toronto, Oshawa 62 km. Durham population 645,862; Oshawa 159,458; Whitby 128,377.

Key landmarks

  • Key Landmarks
  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area
  • Oshawa Botanical Gardens
  • Oshawa Centre
  • Tribute Communities Centre

Select housing developments


Axess Condos by The Daniels Corporation

Ironwood by Podium Developments

Treehouse Studios by Karmina Developments

UC Tower by Tribute Communities


Harbour Ten10 by Castle Group Developments

Prince George Landing by RoseWater Developments

Prince George Landing by Stockworth Developments

Station No. 3 by Brookfield Residential

The Landing at Whitby Harbour by Carttera Private Equities


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