October 11, 1941 - July 30, 2022
A Celebration of Life
My wife and I were among over 125 friends of Mike and Yarmila Filey to celebrate the life of one of the finest men I have known in my 87 years. When reviewing our relationship over the last 30 years, I could sum Mike up in three words, Humanist, Humorist and Historian. Among the many dignitaries attending this special event, their comments all expressed the same sentiments. Remarks from the speeches all expressed how special this man was and how our lives were made richer by knowing him. The reader will recognize many of the friends of Mike that were there to sincerely mourn his passing. *Mr. Ken Shaw, * The Honorable Art Eggleton PC, *Mr. Paul Godfrey CEO Post Media and the Toronto Sun, *Mr. Dean Renwick, *Maj. (ret’d) Gino Falconi, CD, SBSJ, *Mr. and Mrs. Dave & Joy Garrick, *Ms. Jacquie Perrin and many others, all anxious to share many stories about our dear friend.
Mike was a HUMANIST.
The few people I was able to talk to at the reception were in agreement with all the special speakers that Mike was certainly a Humanist. One came from Sault Ste Marie to celebrate this event. His reason for being there was, Mike Filey was the first person he met when arriving in Toronto as a young man. He expressed a special feeling for Mike as Mike was so friendly and helpful and made this fellow comfortable in his strange new world.
I sat with Captain John Letnik, former owner of the famous Captain John’s restaurant on Torontos’ waterfront. John was there as I, to represent all the entrepreneurs that Mike had helped over the years. Mike asked me to follow the progress of the “Jadran” as she was towed to Port Colborne for breaking up. At the time, I had no idea the reason for his interest in the loss of such a piece of Toronto waterfront history. Many will remember the old “Normac” that Capt. John owned when the “Trillium” on her maiden voyage following her historic restoration rammed and sunk her. The “Trillium” is sailing the waters of Lake Ontario because of Mike. He gathered a group to save the rotting hull and had her put back in service. Mike had a fondness for people and a Love for this country and especially for Toronto and its history. Mike was a great deal of help to us when he heard we had restored the 40-room mansion of Sir William MacKenzie. Mike’s first love was Yarmila, his second love was the TTC and we were the proud owners of the 1st mansion and estate of the man who owned and electrified the Toronto Street Railway, now the TTC. The Garricks and Fileys attended many of our week-end parties and we were amazed at the depth of knowledge Mike had on the MacKenzie family and Sir William’s world-wide business endeavors. The stories following in the Toronto Sunday Sun “The Way We Were” helped us a great deal with our new business, the 5 Star, Sir Wm. MacKenzie Inn.
Mike was a HUMORIST.
Whenever Mike Filey’s name would come up, the conversation would inevitably find a way to work into conversations about Mike’s humour and his love for a good joke. His mind was like a steel trap and he had a way of rolling his eyes back and a giggle and then the punch line. He would come out with some pun or jab that most would never think of. Sometimes it would take a moment to hear the words again and understand his humorous take. He had a quick mind and an answer to almost any question you might have about Toronto - Then and Now.
Mike was a HISTORIAN.
No one had a better knowledge of the history of Toronto and southern Ontario. Mike surprised me when out of the blue he mentioned that he researched my grandfather Scott and he told me stories about my family that no other members to my knowledge knew. Scott James of the Toronto archives told me that Mike was his first customer and that he was a regular visitor as he researched over 40 books during his career.
Mike was able to interest the public in Toronto history through his radio shows, the Sun newspaper and his many beautiful books as well as his historic tours. Jacquie Perrin, worked with Mike on many stories and was very impressed with him and his work.
My skills as a driver in the big city were tested as I have avoided downtown Toronto for many years. I owned the city and had my offices and showrooms in a large house on Richmond Street West 40 years ago. The city has doubled in size and the traffic and roads are horrendous. I made the trip with no problem but fear that it was my last. Don’t tempt fate!
The last time I saw Mike was when he was home in a hospital bed in his living room in the summer of 2021. I painted a picture of Mike and Sydney and the family told me that it is still hanging where Mike could see it from his bed in the front hall. He loved that little dog.
Seldom does one have so much of an influence on lives as our dear friend. What an honour to be able to call Mike a friend. All that attended this Celebration of Life and many thousands more that were touched by his being are better for this connection. May God have a special place for you Mike Filey in Heaven. RIP.
Paul D. Scott rantingsandraves.com