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Toronto’s audacious ‘girl cyclist’ left riders — and stereotypes — in the dust




To meet Nora Young was to remember her forever.

She was the kind of person who offered gin and tonics at her garage sale, awarded her cycling medals to neighbourhood children, and at 72, made radio star Stuart McLean wheeze on a 50-kilometre bicycle trek around Toronto.

Nora Young in 1936, at age 19 — the same year she competed in a women’s trial at the six-day bicycle race. Courtesy Nora Young Collection/
Nora Young in 1936, at age 19 — the same year she competed in a women’s trial at the six-day bicycle race. Courtesy Nora Young Collection/  (Young Collection/

“I’m ashamed to say this,” McLean said on CBC’s Morningside in 1989. “I came to hate her … Not only is she older than my mother — Nora held back. She was being careful not to push me too hard.”

This Sunday, Nora Young, “starry girl cyclist” of the 1930s, is being inducted into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame. When she died in 2016, at age 98, she was fairly obscure beyond the realm of cycling history buffs. But her effervescent personality had charmed people for nearly a century.

Filmmaker Julia Morgan met Young when they lived on the same east end street in 2005. Young was moving to seniors housing and was having a garage sale. Morgan’s mother popped by, and in very typical Nora Young sociable style, she offered her guest a refreshing drink. She went home and told her daughter.

“I thought to myself, I have to meet this senior woman who is offering gin and tonics at 11 a.m. at her garage sale,” Morgan says.

Julia Morgan, director of the upcoming short film "Undeniably Young" holds a photo of Nora Young.
Julia Morgan, director of the upcoming short film « Undeniably Young » holds a photo of Nora Young.

When Morgan ventured over, she picked up on Young’s “amazing spirit” and energy right away. She saw the medals on the wall, and wondered about them. She did a little digging, and found a chapter dedicated to her neighbour in Great Girls: Profiles of Awesome Canadian Athletes. She was blown away. When Morgan had a chance to direct a film in 2012, she knew that Nora Young would be an incredible subject.

The youngest of eight children, Young grew up in Thunder Bay, playing hockey with the boys, often shoved in net as the goalie. The family moved to Toronto during the Great Depression. It was the first golden era of women’s sport, says William Humber, a sports historian and professor at Seneca College. The 1928 Olympics had been the first to include women, and Canadian women had been “sensational,” he says. Professional women’s teams were popping up across the country. Young was recruited to play women’s softball at the Sunnyside stadium when she was 11.

In the 19th century, female athletes had been seen as a freakish novelty. By the time Young was a teenager, female athletes drew corporate sponsors, big crowds, celebrity fans and travel opportunities. But there was still derision.

In 2007, Nora Young, about to turn 90, was honoured at the Boulevard Club's annual luncheon for the women who had played baseball at the Sunnyside Stadium, which used to be on the site. The home plate was unearthed in 1996 when the club was renovating its parking lot.
In 2007, Nora Young, about to turn 90, was honoured at the Boulevard Club’s annual luncheon for the women who had played baseball at the Sunnyside Stadium, which used to be on the site. The home plate was unearthed in 1996 when the club was renovating its parking lot.  (David Cooper*p66 x)

In 1938, Montreal sports journalist Elmer Ferguson wrote a column in Maclean’s called “I don’t like Amazon athletes.” Ferguson had no problem with figure skaters in “tightfitting” bodices, or divers whose physical perfection was “enhanced by a clinging one-piece bathing suit,” but he didn’t care for women in the “violent, face-straining, face-dirtying, body-bouncing, sweaty, graceless, stumbling, struggling, wrenching, racking, jarring, and floundering” sports.

“Would Elmer have us run races with a powder puff in one hand and a mirror in the other?” asked champion hurdler Roxy Atkins, in a rebuttal article called “Elmer, you’re goofy.”

In the 1930s, most of the Toronto papers had former athletes writing columns, or as Ferguson called them “girl sports columnists who have me continually on the pan, in the grease, out of the frying pan into the fire and vice versa.” At the Globe, it was Olympic track star Bobbie Rosenfeld’s “Feminine Sports Reel,” and the Star had Alexandrine Gibb’s “No Man’s Land of Sport — News and Views of Feminine Activities.”

Young was common fodder, playing hockey, basketball, and slugging homers at the Sunnyside stadium, but most of the ink recorded her feats as Ontario’s “leading feminine rider.” There was her 36-second quarter mile sprint; her 1:17 half-mile dash; and the 50-mile road race against men where she might have bested more of them had she not stopped for a cup of tea at the halfway mark, clocking in with a final time of 2:38:44. She rode on a single-speed coaster bike — not a professional bike, unless she could borrow one from the men.

Nora Young excelled at basketball, baseball, hockey, and track and field in addition to cycling. Here she is ready to swing for the fences in 1940. Courtesy Nora Young Collection/
Nora Young excelled at basketball, baseball, hockey, and track and field in addition to cycling. Here she is ready to swing for the fences in 1940. Courtesy Nora Young Collection/

In 1936, Young found herself at the centre of controversy. Toronto had been promised Thrills! Spills! and Continuous action! at a six-day bicycle race at Maple Leaf Gardens, a spectacle of endurance as male cyclists raced around a banked “pine-board saucer,” where the turns rose into the air like the side of a house. Promoters decided to amp up the excitement by allowing female cyclists to try the dangerous course for a half-mile race. A dozen women applied but only six were deemed good enough, including Young, then 19.

The race — and what happens during and afterward — is a big part of Morgan’s film Undeniably Young: Nora Young and the Six-Day Race. She is animating the race using details from her research and interviews with Young. It was a revolutionary moment in women’s sport, but Young was suspended for 30 days from her amateur sports federation for the unsanctioned appearance.

In that era, there were no women’s cycling events at the Olympic Games. (The first women’s cycling event would not appear until 1984.) Researching her film, Morgan learned that Young was a world-class athlete in many sports. She played hockey and baseball at Madison Square Garden, and in 1948, her basketball team, the Montgomery Maids, won the national championship. She was also a national javelin champion. Her peak competitive years were the Olympics in 1940 and 1944, which were never held because of the Second World War.

“If she’d competed and won something we’d be talking about her to this day,” Humber says.

During the war she joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, serving overseas in the latter part of the war and its aftermath. She was trained as a jeep mechanic, and ran a gift shop and canteen, Morgan says. She spent a good deal of time driving military officials in jeeps.

“The general would almost be shaking when he got out of the car because she drove so fast and so efficiently in terms of getting around obstacles,” Humber says.

A look at Nora Young and her cycling legacy put together by the makers of the upcoming animated film « Undeniably Young, » which focuses on the cycling pioneer and her role in a historic six-day race at Maple Leaf Gardens. Evoke Films/

After her parents died, Young bought a home near the Danforth in 1959. She worked as a lab technician. She liked to say that she “didn’t have time to get married,” or that she “ran too fast” for marriage. (An unconventional woman for her time, Morgan imagines that Young had quips ready for a lot of the things she was questioned about.)

Arthritis in her hands forced her to retire early in the 1970s. Bored at home, she went back to her bike and realized it didn’t bother her so she kept going. By the ’80s and ’90s she was travelling the world, winning gold medals and setting records at the Masters Games, an international competition for seniors. Those accomplishments were “lost in the mix,” in a society that mostly measures sports achievements in youth, Humber notes.

It was during her 1980s comeback that journalist Stuart McLean went for a ride with her. Young was 72 then, he was 41.

“Come on Stuart, you can do it, push, push, we’re almost there, push, push, dig in!” Young yelled from the top of a hill which she had already vanquished.

Afterward, they had a beer in her kitchen. She told McLean she would have liked to have competed the Olympics. She was very reassuring when she said those hills were “awful hard” for her, too, when she started cycling after decades away from the sport, but every day it got easier. She liked defying expectations. When a young guy raced past her at a stop sign, thinking she’d be slow, she threw it into “high gear” and tore after him.

“You should see the surprise and astonishment on their face when they look back and see this old gal that’s been pedalling along right on their back wheel,” she told McLean, laughing.

In her neighbourhood, Morgan says, children were always knocking on her door. “Miss Young, can you come out to play?”

She organized them into hockey tournaments, bicycle races and sprints.

The wall of Nora Young's trophy room in 2012 when Julia Morgan interviewed her for her upcoming film Undeniably Young. Courtesy of Nora Young Collection/
The wall of Nora Young’s trophy room in 2012 when Julia Morgan interviewed her for her upcoming film Undeniably Young. Courtesy of Nora Young Collection/

“She had so many medals and trophies from her time, literally far many more than she ever knew what to do with, and she would give some of the smaller ones out,” Morgan says. “She would just give one to every kid who placed.”

Young also pushed for more women to try cycling, and for more gender equality in the sport. She was seen as an “elder statesman” who guided the younger generation of female racers and activists, Morgan notes. She always wanted to bike until she was no longer able, and balance issues finally forced her to quit when she was 94. By then, she had moved to a smaller home in Newcastle. Morgan began filming her documentary when Young was no longer riding. But she told her she had always dreamed about cycling, and the dreams hadn’t stopped.

“That really struck me as something quite profound, this amazing former athlete, at 94 and 95, still right back there riding her bike in her dreams,” Morgan writes in an email.

When the TTC announced that bike racks were coming to the front of their buses on selected routes in 2005, Nora Young, then 87, was there to test them out.
When the TTC announced that bike racks were coming to the front of their buses on selected routes in 2005, Nora Young, then 87, was there to test them out.  (Ron Bull*p66 Robert Camara)

Morgan and her film crew spent a lot of time with Young, talking about her past and recording as she played shuffleboard, euchre and poker: “You can’t give me anything better than that?” she’d rib her partner. Six months after filming wrapped, Young had a stroke, which largely took away her speech.

Morgan has been making documentaries since the early 2000s, but Undeniably Young is her first film as a director. She is fundraising on Indiegogo for the final stages of production. The film, a mix of live action, archival images and animation, will be finished in 2019, when she’ll submit it to festivals.

Young often told Morgan that she “never thought about” being a pioneer.

But Morgan always thought that Young was remarkable. During her research, she and Humber nominated her for the Hall of Fame honour.

While Young loved cycling for the rush of wind in her hair, Morgan thinks she would be pleased at this development.

“I think there was a part of her that never was fully recognized for what she did,” she says, “and would have appreciated that.”


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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