Today’s launch of Toronto Storeys has turned out to be a bittersweet occasion.
While our team has been working hard for months to get us to launch, and we have all been eagerly looking forward to the day we would share with you our unique look at the news, narratives, projects and people shaping this city’s real estate scene, we received some news this weekend which has saddened us.
That news: the unexpected passing last Friday of Globe and Mail architectural columnist (and friend), John Bentley Mays.
In an email sent to us this weekend from a colleague of John’s at the Globe, the news of his death was confirmed. This editor noted that John was “a very kind man; a true Southern gentleman, and an enormously talented writer.” Adding, simply that “he will be sorely missed.”
We couldn’t agree more.
When I first began to consider this online real estate publication, I shared our vision for the site with a handful of people whose opinions I respected, and whose encouragement I sought.
For me, that list started with John Bentley Mays.
As a high profile contributor to the Globe and Mail, engaging with John on behalf of our PR clients was a priority and a privilege.
An influential voice whose columns always made a difference, his writing challenged Toronto’s planning department and politicians to think ‘bigger’; he challenged our city’s developers to be ‘better’; and he challenged its architects to be ‘bolder’.
Always receptive to our calls about a client’s new project—but not always enamoured with the client’s project itself—“Mr. Mays” (as I always called him) was someone we encouraged our developers to engage with, believing that the risks of critical review from this esteemed journalist were always outweighed by the rewards of a rave!
I felt the same way when I summoned up the courage earlier this summer, after an interview with a client at the Drake Hotel, to ask John to sit with me a while so I could tell him about Toronto Storeys. He listened to my thoughts patiently, asked probing questions (including ensuring it wasn’t a site simply to promote new projects), and in a quiet voice told me what I hoped to hear… that he thought it was a splendid initiative.
Since that day, Mr. Mays and I had been discussing a role for him contributing to Toronto Storeys. We wanted his thoughts on Toronto’s architecture and the credibility his byline would provide our new publication.
He was willing to write for us, and I was thrilled.
Sadly, as we moved towards the launch of Toronto Storeys and dealt with matters that always seemed more pressing, we never got around to securing that first column from Mr. Mays, and now, sadly, we never will.
So, today’s launch of a site he was so encouraging of, and yet won’t ever contribute to, is indeed bittersweet.
John was Toronto’s original—and most respected—source for Toronto ‘storeys’, and without him, this city’s real estate scene (and this publication) both feel slightly less than they did before.
We will all miss Mr. Mays.
Publisher, Toronto Storeys