Albert Fulton, we hardly knew ye

Everyone loved ol’ Albert, apparently. Over at Heritage Toronto he has a fan in one Rebecca Carson. She writes how she liked the view of Toronto Island from his library high over the Toronto harbour. And our colleague Sarah Hood expressed dismay on hearing of his demise: “[it’s] a terrible loss to anyone interested in Island history, and I really liked him too.”

Here at the ALLDERBLOB we hesitate to cast aspersions on the dead. And now that Fulton has departed this mortal Daewoo Lanos, his body dragged from Toronto harbour at the foot of York Quay, we recall the words of our grandmother Eleanor, who, like Fulton, had an ancestor who came to Amerika on the Mayflower: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.”

Long Silence.

We liked old Albert for one thing, we’ll say that much. We liked his collection of Toronto Island archival materials that he made available to the public at his weekend house on Algonquin Island. We used to send our students to examine that collection and to talk to him about the zoning by-laws peculiar to the residential communities of the Toronto Islands. Fulton provided them with a hand-typed page that laid out the required setbacks, maximum heights, and other absolute measures which would forever guarantee that no one would build something “out of character” with that charming place. Fulton really had a thing for making sure no one stepped out of line, apparently.

We never visited his other house, the one he spent weekdays at. The one in lovely Wychwood Park.

But we heard about it, and we wondered. Do some people have too much of a good thing? How was it that this guy, who prided himself on protecting the character of his island community, managed to bend the rules that said

Under the Act, anyone who holds title to an Island home must use that house as his/her principal residence and declare it as such for Income Tax purposes. The homeowner’s land lease stipulates that you cannot use an Island house for a part-time or “summer” home, or as rental property. ?

But it appears Fulton had a streak of Yankee independence in him. It appears he felt rules were made for lesser folk, perhaps those not descended from Mayflower-variety immigrants. So he had a house in Wychwood park for the week, and a house on Algonquin Island for the weekend. And from Carson’s entry above, it appears he had a place in a harbourfront condo tower as well.

But it was Fulton’s alleged activities in Wychwood Park that brought him to York Quay in his fancy car. Distraught, he was. His good name had been sullied. The previous week, he had been charged by police with a variety of crimes including slashing the tires of automobiles parked on the picturesque winding roads of the residential enclave. The sad irony was that Fulton was a self-appointed protector of those winding roads. He was the co-founder of the enclave’s Neighbourhood Watch.

Of course: and on the Toronto Islands he had taken on the task of policing the zoning by-laws.

Boy, this city’s full of boy scouts, ain’t it.

And we mean that in the nicest way.

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