A Toast for Tony …

November 16, 2016


Saturday, Nov 26, 2016 – 2pm-4pm
@ The Local – Live music by Kate Cash
396 Roncesvalles Av.

When he died five years ago, Tony left us memories and smiles … celebrate his life and friendships … join us in recognising a Roncesvalles institution and a unique social media pioneer.

With his trusty Elmo doll at his side, Tony never had more fun than when connecting with children … so, if you can, bring a donation in the form of an Elmo doll or other toy … or contribute some loonies to our Holiday Fund, all for the patients at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Here’s the event listing on Facebook facebook.com/events/153890465081706. If you want to know more, connect with me at homelessmanspeaks@gmail.com.



Are you sitting down?

October 11, 2013


It’s Tony’s brand new bench, sitting proud in front of Timothy’s Coffee atn the south-east corner of Roncesvalles and Grenadier. Generously paid for by contributions by people like you and installed by the city. While the plaque isn’t installed yet, a team of sympathetic hardworking — if opinionated — folk who knew and cared about Tony has settled on the wording:


Believe it

May 22, 2013

Einstein quote - HMS

Hi all,
It’s has been a long time coming (see my post from December, below) …  but  I can now report that there’s been substantial progress on Tony’s bench, the upshot of which is that I won’t be surprised to see the bench installed before the end of July. Also, everyone involved should hear that, instead of the location in front of Mabel’s, the bench will be installed about 30 feet north, in front of Timothy’s at the SE corner of Roncesvalles and Grenadier; benches aren’t permitted in areas of interlocking brick; only concrete sidewalks will do.

Thanks to donors for your quasi-infinite patience. And, of course, thanks to Pat Dixon for her infinite efforts.

I will keep you apprised.


A much-delayed update about the much-delayed bench to commemorate Tony

November 27, 2012

Hello all,
Here’s the latest from Pat Dixon, who has taken responsibility for getting Tony’s bench installed:

I’ve contacted Gord Perks’s [local city councillor’s office, the “street furnishings” department with the city, and the commemorative bench people.  I’ve also received approval personally from Mabel’s Bakery to locate the bench in front of the store.   I’m just hoping to get (in writing) a confirmation that there won’t be a problem with our preferred bench or the installation, before I go ahead and take steps toward ordering the bench, inscription, and installation.


More when I know more.   ps

It’s back up!

February 23, 2012

Direct link: youtube.com/watch?v=0h7mq-RLBP8

Hi all,
As several of you have told me, the link to the video in the previous post doesn’t work. The student group pulled it down after becoming concerned that they had caused some offence. After adding some explanatory text, they’ve kindly agreed to make it available once more. So if you missed it the first time, now’s your chance. Before you post a comment, please read the comments from the previous posting.



OMG! A brilliant spoof of Homeless Man Speaks on YouTube

February 16, 2012

Direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kyM-pJfJXY
Hi all,
My friend, Kevin Healey, at recoverynetworktoronto.wordpress.com just randomly stumbled on this spendid and gentle parody of our blog. These students (at Regent’s College in London, UK)  are a dangerously clever bunch.

I wonder whether this might the first time that any blog has been riffed, ripped and remixed into video. (Does anyone know more?)

Sunrise, sunset

December 29, 2011

Hello everyone,
I’ve been thinking back to Tony’s experience of Christmas. I don’t remember Tony being hungry as Christmas Eve would set in. Far from it. Many individuals, restaurants, cafes and other shops were reliably generous. But he often had nowhere to go. And so he’d end up gathering together with other street people who also had nowhere to go. Later, he might sit on the steps of Margi’s Pharmacy at the corner of Roncesvalles and Howard Park, waiting for the sun to come up or perhaps waiting for it to set.

How about that weather?

December 21, 2011

Hi all,
Were Tony and I to chat today, the subject of the relatively balmy weather would have almost certainly arisen, as in this hypothetical conversation.

“So how are you liking global warming so far?”

“I don’t think it’s been this nice on the first day of winter since [insert distant year].”

“Do you think it’s getting warmer, generally speaking?”

“Sometimes, but it depends on the weather, if you know what I mean.” [I think Tony would flash his excellent smile at this point.]

Smiles all around

December 12, 2011

How come your Elmo doll is so important to you? I think he’s almost the only thing you own except your clothes, no offense.

“Well seeing kids smile makes me smile and Elmo makes the kids smile. So it all works out.”

“So do you actually identify with Elmo in any way?”

“Phil, I think only someone who had a dad and granddad who were shrinks could ask me that question.”


(The photo is from our post of Nov. 1 2010.)

Trying to help

December 7, 2011

“Didn’t your mother teach you to excuse yourself when you burped and there were other folks there?”

“Maybe, what’s it to you?”

“Just checking. ”

“All right, she did.”

“So … ”

“So, excuuuse me.”

“Now that’s better.”

“Can we not discuss this anymore?”

“C’mon Phil, I’m just trying to help you with your manners.”

“Thank you for your help, Mr. Clemens.”

Coming home

December 4, 2011

I had this discussion with Tony earlier this year:

“If you could do any job in the world, what would you want to do?”

“Oh that’s easy, I’d be a limo driver.”

“But you were a limo driver, weren’t you?”

“Well, my life wasn’t always this bad, you know.”

Friends in need

December 2, 2011

“What do you remember about being a kid?”

“I was a fun kid, you know. I had friends and I had a good lot of them. Things were different then.”

“You’ve still got lots of friends …”

“Well maybe I have lots of friends now but its different when you’re a kid, you know. You can just have fun. Nowerdays when your a grownup, people need your help, and mostly I can’t give them what they want but at least I can smile and tell them ‘hello’ or ‘have a nice day’ or something. That perks people up, most of them anyways.”

Reality bites

November 29, 2011

“I wish I’d taken better care of my teeth back then when I had a chance. That’s something you just can’t get back, ever.”

Eternal flame

November 26, 2011

This snippet is from March 2009:

“What job would you want to do if you could choose anything?”

“That’s a fireman.”

“A fireman?  Why’s that?”

“It just feels good to rescue someone. And you know that those ladies love their firemen. That’s gotta be the best part, if you know what I mean.”

The good and the great

November 24, 2011

This conversation happened around the time I learned of Tony’s limo-driving past:

“You were saying before what happened when you got your limo stuck in the snow. Did you have any passengers?

“Yup I sure did. She was an important one but I didn’t ever figure out who she really was. Anyway, she was out in the  flash of a dog’s tail, and helped us push the car out. And she was a strong one but she destroyied her nice shoes. And then we laughed about it whe I drove her to the hotel. Now that was fun. She was great.”

There are limits

November 22, 2011

“Hey Phil, you know what’s mind-blowing?  It’s just that I know so many secrets from people —  it would blow your mind.”

“What brought that up?”

“The lady there, she just told me a story when she was young. I’ll bet you she’s never told one person until today. I don’t even know why she keeps it secret. Like my friend used to say, it wouldn’t bother my maiden aunt, what she said if you ask me.”

“Why did she tell you about it?”

“Sometimes you’ve  just gotta tell someone something, that’s all.”

“Does that mean that you’re about to tell me a secret too?”

“Not on the blog I won’t. My secrets are staying right here with me, if you know what I mean.”


November 18, 2011

This exchange is from sometime before Christmas, though I don’t know which year. The Arthur Rachman painting above reminds me of one of the most unbelievable of Tony’s many unbelievable experiences:

“Is there anything you don’t especially like about Christmas?”

“Well there’s one thing, when rich people should be helping poor people more like the good Lord told us. There’s something wrong with being a Scrooge, especially when you’re talking about single mothers and their kids. You gotta help if you can, if you know what I mean.”

I remember when

November 17, 2011

Hello all,
I’ve got so many notes from the many conversations we had over the years. Especially as the blog has attracted a much larger following in the last four weeks, I will write them down properly and post them. Here’s one:

“You know where I want to go to end my old age?”

“Where? Why are you thinking that?”

“Don’t tell me that you don’t think about it yourself. Anyway, I’m keeling over when I’m near the ocean if I can and I’ve never seen the ocean in my whole life. So that’s my way to go if you want my opinion.”

Good-bye, Jenna Morrison

November 9, 2011

It’s likely that Tony had spoken to Jenna from time to time. And he would have been shocked to know she’s gone. That she was mother to a five-year old and was expecting another child would have particularly upset him. Rest in peace, Jenna Morrison.

Over the years, Tony faced danger near the Sterling-Dundas intersection where Jenna died. Here’s two instances:


Earth to Tony

November 5, 2011

Here’s two close-up photos of the memorial shown in the post of Nov 2, 2011. Note the many exquisite details, esp the amazing wireframe chair. Who made this?!

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