Tony died today

October 18, 2011

Hello all,
I have received several messages from readers and friends and two people have posted about this sad news, the but I haven’t confirmed it directly.

I subsequently received a call from Officer Therrien of the Toronto Police confirming Tony’s death. Please read the many comments below.

Here’s a wonderful article about Tony in the Toronto Star.

(Thanks to Stephen Evans for the photograph of a street shrine for Tony; come leave a message if you’re in the area.)


109 Responses to “Tony died today”

  1. Dee Says:

    Hi Philip, Tony was found slumped in his chair this afternoon (330ish).. unresponsive… in speaking with the police officer as the paramedics took him away… they said they were working on reviving him in the ambulance.

    I just wanted to say, I gave the officer this blog address as contact and suggested that they contact you. I hope that they do.

    I have followed your blog for years… and absolutely adored Tony. Thank you for all you did for Tony.

  2. Joanne McNally Says:

    I saw what happened today. Tony was taken away in an ambulance. We were told that he didn’t make it.

    We will miss him.


  3. It is confirmed Tony has passed away Today

  4. Thank you every one for caring so much about my big brother.

    • Joseph Jeremy Says:

      He cared about all of us, the residents of Roncy Village. When a purse snatcher threatened the street one weekend Tony made it his mission to spread the word. When my son was stung by a wasp, Tony comforted him and applied first aid. I last saw him on Thanksgiving day. We brought him some lunch for which he was truely thankful.

    • Tony did care about helping others — lots of times he watched my bike, or my dog, while I went into a store. A few times he helped me get my daughter in or out her bike seat. He told me once that he was happy to have helped a student who had used his blog and received an award. Tony made the street a little bit safer. In his memory, I’m going to try and practice his ‘watchfulness’ a little better. We will remember you Tony.

  5. fran freeman Says:

    We are so sorry to hear this. Thank you folks for posting to let the rest of us know and thanks to Philip for following up.

    My partner and i saw him last Thursday on Sorauren. He’d just been hassled by a cop who told him to move, that he was sitting too close to a bus stop.Ticketed him in fact.

  6. fran freeman Says:

    I posted before I’d seen sharon’s comments.So sorry Sharon. Your brother was loved by a lot people.

  7. Ian Says:

    Tony will be missed . spoke with him yesterday, it comes as surprise as I just passed by his spot, only to see an empty chair……goodbye friend.

  8. Kelvin Says:

    i can’t imagine what would Tony’s last few years would be like without Phil providing a voice, and the “extended family” of residents & friends who stopped by to chat. This blog itself beats any eulogy that can be said or obit written. RIP Tony and God bless your heart, Phil

  9. erin scholz Says:

    im a pretty recent resident of roncesvalles but i’ve shared a few meals with tony (whose name i didnt even know) over the summer….i always wanted to know more about him, his story but didnt want to pry….now i cant stop crying. he seemed like such a sweet man.

  10. Maggie Says:

    It’s hard to believe he is gone and won’t be there on Ronces tomorrow.
    Rest in peace.

  11. Lorraine Says:

    I hope there is some kind of community memorial for him. He touched so many lives – it was like he anchored the neighborhood community somehow … RIP Tony – Ronces is going to seem like it has a big hole in its middle, without you…

  12. Reinie Says:

    RIP Tony, and Philip thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into his life – from the Netherlands

  13. Scott Says:

    Thanks Phillip for all you have done for Tony. Sorry Sharon, for the loss of your brother.

  14. Bob Says:

    So sad…

  15. Goodbye Tony. You gave street people a voice that few have had. You will be missed.

  16. angela peres Says:

    Goodbye M’dear … rest easy.

    thank you Philip for your posts.. they capture Tony’s spirit.

  17. Geoff Says:

    RIP Tony…there are a LOT of people out there who could have taken a cue from your incredible attitude in the face of it all. You’ll be missed.

    • shawn bouffard Says:

      Hi all just wanted to say thanks for taking care of my uncle Tony he was a great man who just fell on some hard times he will be missed by all. i just wish i had came down to see him more. GOD BLESS LOVE YOU FOREVER


      • Tracy Says:

        Thoughts and prayers to you, Mom and the rest of the family.

      • Jk Says:

        I am so sorry for your loss. I met your uncle at one of the shelters that I was volunteering in. He had an impact on me and I will always think of him at this time of year. Thinking of you Tony xo J

  18. Tara Keating Says:

    Peace to you my friend.

    Tara and little Henry

  19. "big guy" Says:

    Tony Clemens I will miss you but your spirit will be with me.

  20. David Says:

    Tony was a very nice man and its sad that he’s gone. God bless him and grant him peace. I see that he’s got some family, but did he have any children?

  21. Mymulligans Says:

    I lived above Mabels for years (back when it was still a polish deli) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Tony say his cheery, “hullo ma’dear.” Now, listening to that Elmo doll all day… that was something too!!
    And he was always happy to enjoy a banana or apple from my basket.
    Rest well Tony. You left your mark.

  22. Katie Cash Says:

    I loved Tony. I’ve lived in Roncesvalles for a long time, I guess 9 or 10 years now, sort of. I came back and stayed after traveling and living all over Canada because Ronce is the only place I ever found that feels like a community; a real family. A huge part of that was Tony. Always looking out for everyone, always happy for a smoke or a sandwich, or scowling at the rain; Tony knew all the kids and all the dogs and how to touch a soft spot in people. He was always helping in whatever way he could. He was a great man; one of the best.

    Tony, I am going to miss you so much. Rest softly, my friend.

  23. Joseph Jeremy Says:

    My family will miss him, his infectious smile, his kindness and charm. Roncy will not be the same without him.

  24. Patricia Cairns Says:

    I never saw or knew Tony, but I feel as if I do now. My son Liam teaches at CMC across the street from Mabel’s, so I hope he made contact with Tony. I love the atmosphere around there, and wish I could be there more often. Instead I visit vicariously (from up in Elliot Lake) through the fb page. Keep the posts coming!

  25. I moved away from the ‘hood a couple of years ago but tracked Tony down to say ‘hi’ back in the spring. Sorry to hear that he’s passed. I’m going to miss all of his crazy stories and my dog is going to miss the treats!

  26. Nathan Says:

    I’ve enjoyed the short, simple conversations you’ve shared on this blog for quite a while. For me, it put a tender, poignant, sometimes humorous, and very real human face on the issue of homelessness.


  27. Patricia Cairns Says:

    Just texted Liam about this. Last year when he came back north for Christmas, he didn’t bring any winter boots -said he had given them to a homeless man. He just texted me to say that Tony died wearing those boots. Talk about 6 degrees of separation!

  28. rose bouffard Says:

    how do you die

  29. HJ Says:

    Wish I had known about this blog before, wish I had known Tony’s name, wish I had shared what I have, if even just a little.
    As someone said to me this morning at the street car stop by Tony’s empty chair this morning, at least he won’t suffer another cold winter.
    Rest in Peace.

  30. Laurie Says:

    I’m so very sad to hear this news.. I’ll miss you Tony, and hope you’re somewhere better.. RIP my friend.

  31. Emily Lockhart Says:

    This is a very sad moment for Roncy. Rest in peace, friend. You were kind and generous, and did so much to make Roncy feel like a community.

  32. Adrian Stasiuk Says:

    I feel bad for Tony. I have lived at Roncy and Howard Park for 8 years and always saw him around whenever I was out shopping. It’s too bad I didn’t know about this blog until facebook notified me about Tony’s death.
    I have enjoyed and still am, reading the conversations between Tony and others.
    Rest in Peace Tony.

  33. peggy Says:

    I’m gutted. He was always such a positive, kind, happy presence. I never spoke with him much, but I gave him money when I had it. I saw him nearly every day. I wish I had shared more with him, even just more words.

    I checked this blog just last week, and thought he was fine, that the cancer went away. I saw him yesterday walking down behind the Timothy’s, and he looked thin but good. He looked my way; I considered waving at him but I didn’t, and I’ll always regret that. Best to you, Tony.

  34. Danica Kotsopoulos Says:

    I left a daisy in his chair today. He always told me I had a wonderful smile.

    That made me smile even wider.

    RIP Sweet Tony

  35. Michele G. Says:

    What sad news for the Roncy community. Tony, for all his troubles, was always kind and good humoured. I’ve known him for a long time, and will miss him. Bless you Tony.

  36. Sarah J Says:

    Such sad sad news, he was a fixture on Roncy and in so many people’s lives. Tony – you will be missed.

  37. Marian Says:

    Every time I saw tony I was reminded of the expression about being careful how you treat strangers as you might be with an angel. Tony embodied both sides. He treated one and all human or beast like they were special. He was truly the angel in our midst

  38. Myles Says:

    Every day I would wake up in Australia and hope to receive an update of wisdom via this blog. Many times I was blessed. You can rest now mate.

  39. Kathryn Says:

    God Bless you Tony as you always said to us.
    Peace to you.
    From ” Young fella’ Tim and his Mom Kathryn

  40. ap Says:

    I briefly spoke to Tony and smiled with him shortly before he passed on Tuesday. I was shocked and very saddened to hear the news. Seeing Tony almost every day always gave me a feeling of safety and familiarity. He will be missed.

  41. Bill Says:

    Thank you Tony for making our street and our lives better.

  42. abbass Says:

    Hi Philip , i just upload my video in YouTube please take look .

    • Maggie Says:

      Thanks for posting this moving video of Tony, not only living but his last moments on Ronces and the beginning of the memorial to him.

    • Adrian Stasiuk Says:

      Hi Phillip and Abbass,
      This site is the first I have seen through Roncesvalles Renewed today. I loved reading about Tony’s stories today and still not finished! Abbass, The video you made is AMAZING! I am quite sure that Tony’s family is going to be flabberghasted when they see it.
      You guys are so wonderful for what you have done for Tony, I do hope that your goodwill will spread and touch the hearts amongst others to do the same.
      I can tell you that after reading this blog, my eyes have never have never been opened as wide as it is now.
      To recognize the suffering and downward spiral that many people can go through during tough times is understandable to an extent. This blog, I hope will open other’s eyes all over the world, to look inside the life of a homeless man. Keep up the great work!
      I have lived here 8 years and have seen Tony many times in his usual spot with his Elmo friend. It always put a smile on my face.
      Bless his soul.

      Will there be a funeral, visitation or Memorial for Tony?


    • Scott Says:

      That video was a beautiful remembrance. Thank you for taking and posting it.

    • Tanya Clemens Says:

      Thank you for this video of my grandfather

  43. Fred Says:

    sorry to hear this news today. thanks philip for giving tony a voice and my condolences sharon.

  44. Daria - Maya Says:

    How sad to read about Tony’s passing in The Star. I’ve followed this blog for years and even met Tony on one occasion. RIP sweet soul that you were Tony. My condolences to Sharon and Tony’s family.

    And Phil, what a beautiful blog – journal you and Tony created. Both of you really opened my eyes to the world on the street. I am so grateful to you. And as I said before you two were Angels come here to teach us. Thank you both. Tony, love and blessings and safe ‘passage’ to the other side.

    Daria – Maya xox

  45. Rain Says:

    We need to organize some kind of memorial service or wake for Tony. I will miss our conversations when i pass Grenadier and Roncesvalles.

  46. ayal Says:

    go well tony!
    Thanks Philip for the blog and for working with Tony and sharing his story. It is nice to see the positive comments from folks here – Tony really touched a lot of peoples lives. I’m sure his presence will stay with us for a long time.


  47. The Gassman Says:

    Hey, big guy. Pretty much sums it up.

    And back at ya, big guy.

  48. Ken Wood Says:

    I first met Tony some years ago when he was the unofficial Doorman at the old 7-11 at College and Lansdowne. He astonished me that he remembered my name and always had a cheerful hello, no matter the weather or the situation. When I came into some money I gave him a goodly chunk and am ashamed to say I wondered if it would go for drugs at the time. But I continued to help out when I could and Tony was cheerful and had a good word for you whether you had some coin or not. He was a sweet, gentle man who cared about his community. I shall miss him greatly. Bye Tony. You gave love and were loved.

  49. rose b. Says:

    My sweet lovable brother,so sorry to hear of you passing.I am happy to know you had so many loyal friends.I am also so relieved that you will not have to spend another winter on the streets.You lived and died the way you wanted to.I am sorry that we could not help you more.I have many happy memories of you but the one I remember most is of you and I and our kids at the Santa Claus parade,meeting at the same corner year after year.You will be missed by your family.Safe journey brother.

    • Maggie Says:

      Rose b, You said that Tony lived and died the way he wanted to. Did Tony want to live on the street? as far as you knew? I mean, live on the street as opposed to living in a home, not a shelter for the homeless. Did he want to be homeless?
      or would he have liked some help to get a place to live?
      Nice to know that his family members cared about him and loved him. I’m sure it was a comfort for him to know that too.

      • Rain Says:

        Maggie, this is NOT the time to get autocratic. There is a family in pain.

      • Barbara Says:

        Maggie, I hope the reason you ask is to truly understand and not to slam a family and community in pain.

        I can only answer from my point of view – I never spoke to Tony – but in the 8 years that I lived homeless on the streets I knew many men like him. His story here on the blog resonated with me and my memories of those guys.

        I wasn’t homeless because I had no where to turn. I have family who would have jumped at the chance to give me a warm, dry place to sleep but I preferred the lack of responsibility and obligation that living outside gave me. Sure it was hard, but at the time it seemed a lot easier than coping with everything required to a indoor life.

        Rest in Peace Tony – Here’s wishing you a sunny spot to sit, happy people to talk to and a hot cuppa when you need it.

      • Maggie Says:

        Barbara, I do not want to get into a lot of arguing back and forth but I do feel a need to respond. I am not slamming a community in pain. I feel badly that Tony has died. Otherwise I wouldn’t be on this site. i also feel badly that people are suffering and are homeless.

        I wonder if he truly did want to be homeless and essentially living on the street.I wasn’t aware until reading this blog after he died that he was. Because he always looked pretty clean and neat, and wasn’t carrying all his possessions about with him, I had always assumed that he had a place to stay. I understand from reading parts of this blog that he, like some other homeless people, did not want to be in a shelter for the homeless for reasons such as violence and theft. it sounds like you, Barbara, for a time did prefer to be homeless for some reasons.
        I just wonder if it was merely a lack of money that prevented him from having his own home. It sounds like he did have a home before with his wife and children. I don’t know his whole story, nor am I am expert on the homeless. I wonder why someone ends up on the street, and am surprised to find that he has a family relatively nearby that loved him. Of course, there may have been things about Tony that made it impossible for them to help him off the street. Maybe they couldn’t afford to help him. I wonder did he fall through the cracks? is it because our social services are inadequate that he and others are on the street?

      • Mark State Says:

        Hi, Maggie!
        Tony had expressed to me on different occasions that he preferred to live on the street. Over the years, he had over-nighted in everything from a plastic sheet tent behind bushes near College & Dundas to the hostel on Dundas, to the homes of friends, and even his own place at one time. But he maintained that he wished to remain a street person, and he was happy with that existence.
        -Mark State

  50. Madison Says:

    My boyfriend once saw Tony talking to other people who were living on the street telling them that this was a family neighbourhood and to make sure their actions and conversations were ‘family friendly.’
    I talked to him every day while I worked and lived on Ronces. He helped bring people together and he was always good for a chat!
    We’ll miss you Tony, you became a part of a lot of people’s families.

  51. Eileen Says:

    Tony will be greatly missed by Roncy, a little piece is missing today….

  52. erik Says:

    RIP Tony. Roncey feels different w/o you.

  53. […] his death on Tuesday. Since then, dozens of friends and community members have left comments on the post, expressing condolences and sharing memories. Read more details on Clemens’ life and passing […]

  54. ej Says:

    i’ve been overwhelmed by a sense of sadness since hearing of tony’s passing. his empty chair creates a hole in our community. through tony (via this blog and on roncy daily) we’ve learned so much about life, love, resilience and endurance. let’s all be kind to one another, m’darlings.

  55. Lorraine from Mabel's Says:

    There is someone organizing a memorial – not sure if I can post email addresses here but if you are interested in helping you can contact me at Mabel’s and I will put you in touch with the person who is coordinating efforts.

    So nice to see the community coming together for Tony.

    • Adrian Says:

      You can post the event in the “Roncesvalles Renewed” group in Facebook. This is how I found out about this blog.

      I would like to suggest we all chip in and donate, to buy a lovely cast iron, wooden slat bench dedicated in Tony’s name. I could have a small plaque engraved and place it on the back where it’s easily seen. The bench would be placed in front of Mayels if that is OK with Brad’s.
      What do you all think?
      The bench won’t be very expensive at all. Maybe about $150 or so.


      • morleybolero Says:

        Can’t find that on FB. is the name correct?

      • Maggie Says:

        sounds like an idea. Too bad we couldn’t have a chair like his camp chair but I suppose that would be more expensive and perhaps less practical.

      • Adrian Says:

        The bench is more expensive actually but it will seat 2 or 3 people. Not that expensive at Canadian Tire or Home Depot, or even Zellers.

      • Laurie Says:

        That’s a really lovely idea Adrian. I’d certainly love to pitch in.

      • Adrian Says:

        Perfect! I can collect the donations and I will buy the bench along with someone who has a vehicle. :)One question though, Didn’t Tony pass on, in front of Brad’s? Shouldn’t the bench be placed where he was sitting?
        Just a thought to ponder.

  56. Adrian Says:

    It’s roncesvalles renewed

    If you go to the facebook search engine and type that, it should be there.
    Here is a link:!/groups/82481686133/


  57. Adrian Says:

    Oops, I made an error to a previous comment regarding my suggestion. I meant:

    I would like to suggest we all chip in and donate, to buy a lovely cast iron, wooden slat bench dedicated in Tony’s name. I could have a small plaque engraved and place it on the back where it’s easily seen. The bench would be placed in front of Maybels or Brad’s if it’s OK with them. What do you all think?

  58. erin scholz Says:

    i think that’s a lovely idea…and/or what about a tree?

  59. Adrian Says:

    Well, we all got new trees on Roncy so wouldn’t know where to put it. I don’t know if we could dedicate a tree to someone, that’s already there.
    I do think having a place to sit outdoors is a more convienient and a practical option.
    We do need a lot more benches and seating areas other than the streetcar stops.

  60. erin scholz Says:

    great point! nevermind me!

    • Adrian Stasiuk Says:

      Hello All,
      I am suggesting everyone meet me at Maybels or Brad’s Wednesday Oct 26th at 3 pm til 6 pm to submit a donation for the bench. I have to discuss with Brad’s or Maybels about my idea this week and to talk about my plan; if they’re OK with the bench being dedicated in front of their business.
      Please let me know here or Via email at Adrian Stasiuk on Facebook.
      You may also want to contact me via email at


  61. Bryce Says:

    glad we could have one last chat and that there was a roof over your head for the last few nights,Tony…you will be missed.

    thank you,

  62. Angela Says:

    All in all, you never can tell what a person’s story might be until you find out for yourself and when you do it is likely you will be impressed, surprised and understanding. RIP Tony or as my daughter called you Elmo Man.

  63. Tammy Clemens Says:

    Hi Phil,
    I am Tony’s daughter, Tammy Clemens. I am very saddened by the news of my dad’s passing and would like to attend Tony’s funeral. Can you please call me after 6pm at 647 886 9359.
    I am unable to use a computer so I cannot see responses to this post online (a friend is posting this for me).
    Thank you very much

  64. Catherine Hamill Says:

    Thank you A. Mahmoudi for the video of Tony. So timely.

    RIP Tony, you will be missed.


  65. Adrian Stasiuk Says:

    Hi Phil,
    Can you please contact me at
    I am organizing the donations and park bench that is to be dedicated for Tony.

    Thanks so much.


  66. Mark State Says:

    Tony was an irreplaceable part of South Parkdale and Roncesvalles. I’ll miss the way he shared his upbeat take on life. I’m so sorry he’s gone.

    Mark State

  67. accessahut Says:

    Thanks. I have been following from a distance, and I know this made a difference in Tony’s life. Homelessness and cancer and all–mighty big problems that we see on an individual level…but can’t seem to prevent.

    I am glad you kept this blog. In an odd way, on an odd note, Tony shares this day–my wife died of ovarain cancer october 18, 2010. May both –and all–rest in peace.

  68. Tracy Says:

    I found this blog about 4 years ago and realized I knew some of his family. I still come and check to see how he’s doing and am so sad to hear about his passing. My thoughts and prayer to the family and all those who loved him and keep a special place in their heart.

  69. Anthony Garbuio Says:

    Bright Blessings my dear friend, your smile will always remain in our hearts and where you and Elmo gave us so many kind and joyful moments…

  70. Tanya Clemens Says:

    Love you and miss you Grandpa xoxoxoxoxoxo

  71. Lily Says:

    May your bare feet leave footprints in the sand by the edge of the ocean, Tony, so we can follow you to heaven some day.

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  73. Tanya Clemens Says:

    4th year Aniversary coming up.

    • Anthony Says:

      Thank you for sharing, still remember Tony and wish we could have a small sign made for the bench near where he would sit everyday.

  74. Tanya Clemens Says:

    I thought a bench was going to be put up ??

    • Anthony Says:

      There was talk of having a bench for Tony but it never came together. We may still be able to put a bench there or something in memory of him!

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