In the wake of his passing this spring, Gord Hazlett leaves a rich legacy — not only for his family and friends, but for the broader East York community.
Mr. Hazlett died at the age of 93 at Toronto East General Hospital after a long illness.
“He was very community-oriented, he was very involved,” said Jennifer Hazlett, one of Gord’s five children. (Gord Jr., Dan, Bill and Randy are the others). “He was a parade marshal for every East York parade and he even sat beside the mayor in the car. I don’t think there’s anybody that didn’t know him. Everywhere we would go, somebody would always know him.”
Born on Aug. 19, 1919, Hazlett always called East York home, being a resident since childhood after his Irish family settled on Ashdale Avenue, near Coxwell and Gerrard.
It was there, from his family, that he learned the gift of storytelling.
Hazlett, always a mechanic at heart, had his own business even as a child, repairing bikes. His love of it led him to pursue a career as a mechanic, and he later worked on the fleets for a dairy and for General Foods — and for other big names such as Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola and Orange Crush as a fleet supervisor.
Not just a mechanic, Hazlett was also an antique vehicle collector, with his most prized possession being a 1927 Pontiac that one of his sons still has.
His children remember him fondly for his stories.
“There was always a new story,” said son Randy Hazlett. “He had such a great memory. His writing was so easy that when you read his story, it was like him sitting there and telling the story.”
After retirement, his passion for storytelling turned into writing. People loved his stories, which encouraged him to write. So these joint interests in storytelling and antique cars led him to write articles for publications such as Old Autos, where his work was well-received. He later released three books, compiling his antique stories.
“He just had a way of delivering it,” said Randy, “and they were all true stories too. He just had that eloquence and that caught on like wildfire. People loved him.”
His abilities were sprinkled with his down-to-earth spirit and humour, inspiring him to coin a term his children will always remember: “I can fix anything but a broken heart.”