Remembering East York, remembering Donna-Lynn McCallum

Long-time resident died in 2013, but remembered within building she once saved

Donna-Lynn McCallum is remembered for the remarkably selfless life she lived.

The East York resident was recognized posthumously last week for a lifetime of giving to her community. The event took place in the East York Civic Centre, a building she had a role in saving. On March 24, a shadow box full of mementos from McCallum’s life was unveiled, in conjunction with the Agnes Macphail Award ceremony.

“Donna was a very proactive, a very loud, but a very respectful voice — by conveying and making her case known,” said Justin VanDette. “The East York Civic Centre was a very important piece of land to the community,”

VanDette and McCallum became friends over their mutual love of the East York community.

“I met Donna-Lynn McCallum in 1997–98 during the amalgamation debate between East York and the city of Toronto,” said VanDette.

“I’ll confess to you today — I probably wouldn’t confess this in 1998-99 when I was still in high school — I was skipping school to go to those meetings. I was just very fascinated by the government debates and public issues.”

McCallum was a staunch opponent of amalgamation, the merger of East York and the other formerly autonomous Metro Toronto municipalities into the megacity of Toronto forced by the provincial government of Mike Harris in 1998. In fact, her home was still carrying a sign saying ‘Say No on the MegaCity’ at the time of her death.

McCallum wasn’t just an activist and volunteer, but also an avid photographer. Some of her photos are still retained by the NDP caucus at Queens Park.

Donna-Lynn McCallum passed away at the age of 69 on May 29, 2013.