In 1965, when Robert Fripp and Carol Burtin Fripp were in the throes of deciding to leave New York City, they first considered England, Robert’s home. But the economic situation there was less than ideal. Luckily, Canada beckoned.
As Carol says, “In Canada, you didn’t have to have a party label to run for office, and we found that encouraging – that any individual could participate and run.” So north they came – a winter in Montreal, then to Toronto. Robert’s first job here was winding film at the CBC. Ironic, since he went on to produce the prestigious show “The Fifth Estate” for many years.
After a few rentals in Moore Park and The Annex, where the rentals all said “one child only,” they decided perhaps it would be a good time to buy, since child #2 was on the way. The house they were shown was on Southvale, which in June 1969 cost $34,500. The agent assured them it was “a wonderful house – but it will never be worth more than $40,000.” Hah!
Before the children – Eric and Will – were in school, Carol would often bring them to daytime East York Council meetings with her when she couldn’t find a babysitter. They would sit or lie on the floor quietly colouring or drawing. Some of her community involvement must have rubbed off on them. Eric now lives in the UK where he is a barrister specializing in refugee and asylum law. Will lives in Canada but has a Masters from the UK in intelligence and international relations.
Stop sign activism
Interest in a particular local issue turned Carol into an activist. The Fripps lived on the south side of Southvale, while Rolph Road School (which her sons attended) was a block to the north. Carol’s persuasiveness resulted in the first four-way stop sign in Leaside at the corner of Rolph and Southvale, and a second soon after at Hanna and Southvale.
The Rolph Road Home & School Association was her next cause. She reminded me that when she was appointed to the executive, the president was Jean Burnside, mother of Councillor Jon Burnside. Carol and Sally White, as vice-presidents, were in charge of organizing the annual Fun Fair – which included collecting prizes for the auction on Bayview. To everyone’s surprise, the “take” rose from half a dozen prizes to more than 70!
From that Home & School position, Carol proposed a school lunch program for children who either wanted to stay at school for lunch or whose parents were at work and needed them to be provided for. Carol was accused of being “a bad mother.” Opponents said “my children need me.” Fortunately, the lunch program won out, and has run successfully ever since.
Carol did return to work, starting at TVO in 1976 as a part-time story editor, then associate producer and finally producer for “Speaking Out” with host Harry Brown. In 2000, producers and performers at TVO felt the need for a union. Carol became the “founding mother” of the TVO branch of the Canadian Media Guild, working on winning union certification, collective bargaining and mediation.
Today she continues her community involvement as co-chair of the Leaside Property Owners’ Association. She was recently honoured for her work by being named the 2018 recipient of the Agnes Macphail Award.