“Six Degrees of Separation”
If Clara were alive today she would be amazed at how many people she’s brought together in their effort to showcase and emphasize the value of her work. Working on the archive has been fascinating, albeit all encompassing: attracting input from readers all across Canada and the U.S. But what’s more amazing is that as the number of contacts and information expands the circle gets smaller. Recently, “G.L.” contacted me. She lives on Valleyview Gardens: the street where Clara lived for forty years. G.L.’s interest in the preservation and history of her neighbourhood: Baby Point, prompted her to call. She had valuable information and insight to share. She recommended that I contact Pamela Slaughter, a long-time resident of Baby Point who in 2013 co-wrote a book with Robert D. Galway, "Baby Point: The Place Where We Live".
I contacted Pam and purchased the book. It is significant for many reasons. The format, ideas, facts and photos coincide with the raison d’être of Clara’s website. To examine what we’ve lost historically and environmentally; establish the degree of loss; and through this realization preserve what’s left. In co-author Robert Galway’s words:
“The book grew out of a mutual effort to prevent the demolition of a period Arts & Crafts style home a couple of doors from my property at 62 Baby Point Rd. Our efforts were to no avail and the home has since been demolished and the now vacant lot is now advertised for resale.” The book is full of “Clara” pertinent material which only serves to substantiate Robert’s comment. "An Old Log Fence along the Lower Humber. South Kingsway and Riverside Drive (p.47). " See Clara’s Berry Road at the Bottom of the Humber, Toronto. (Winter Section) “The Belt Line Loop on the east bank of the Humber River overlooks the wooden Old Mill Bridge and the remnants of the Old Mill itself (p.80)." See Clara’s Autumn on the Humber River, Toronto, Afternoon, October 15, 1935. (Autumn Section) Raymond Avenue is mentioned in reference to the building of Humbercrest United Church (p.90)." See Clara’s Houses in Snow, Raymond Ave (Collectors Gallery) “Reviewing the 1911 Humber Valley Surveys document outlining Home Smith’s approach and original strategy for the development of five subdivisons and the immediately adjacent lands along the Humber River (Baby Point, Kingsway, The Old Mill and Riverside Drive (p.114)." See Clara’s Church St., The Kingsway, Toronto, Morning, May 16, 1934. (Spring Section) “Humber River Wetlands along south Riverside Drive, Toronto – 2012” (p. 127)." See Clara’s Jane Highway, Lower Riverside, Toronto, January 1, 1941. (Winter Section) "The book also mentions people with whom the Harris’ socialized. Dr. Albert Franklin Mavety and Robert James Dilworth both listed as Directors of the Baby Point Club were friends of the Harris’. (p. 96)" From Fred’s diary: Aug. 7, 1937 – Out to Mrs. Cotton’s with Clara and Mrs. Mavety, after supper over to the Dr’s to talk over the trip for next week Dec. 24, 1937 – Christmas Eve at Dr. Mavety’s Nov. 22, 1938 – Clara got a lot of nice chrysanthemums from Dilworths Nov. 23, 1938 – Out to Dilworths in morning, he gave me more mums to make a water colour. "Baby Point: The Place Where We Live" and the Clara Isabella Harris Website share a common purpose and universal appeal. Wherever there are individuals who share a cause and organize themselves, the impossible becomes possible.