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11 Comments

culture

Toronto Urban Legends: The Leaping Lawyer of Bay Street

Something you shouldn't add to your repertoire of party tricks.

The truth behind the tales people tell about Toronto.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/30711218@N00/5067876038/"}jmaxtours{/a} from the {a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/torontoist/pool/"}Torontoist Flickr pool{/a}.

Garry Hoy, a 39-year-old senior partner with the law firm of Holden, Day, Wilson, had an unusual habit: bodychecking the windows of his office at Toronto’s TD Centre, notionally to demonstrate their tensile strength.

On July 9, 1993, Hoy decided to liven up a party for incoming articling students by making his signature move on a 24th-storey window.

At his first attempt, the window held. As it dawned on the assembled youth that they’d hitched their career wagons to a firm where senior partners batter themselves against windows like demented houseflies, Hoy took a second run. This time the glass popped out of the frame, sending Hoy free-falling to the courtyard below. Lamentably, if predictably, he died from his injuries.

We can never know what motivated Hoy: a desire to prove the robustness of modern construction techniques, whimsey, or just simply showing off.

We do know that his early demise could have been avoided had he left the testing to the experts. Or consulted with structural engineer Bob Greer, who later told the Toronto Star “I don’t know of any building code in the world that would allow a 160-pound man to run up against a glass and withstand it.”

Hoy’s defenestration left him more celebrated in death than he’d ever been in life, netting him a 1996 Darwin Award, sizeable Snopes and Wikipedia entries, and segments on the television shows 1000 Ways to Die and Mythbusters.

Following the accident, Peter Lauwers, managing partner of Holden, Day, Wilson, told the Toronto Sun that Hoy had been one of their “best and brightest.” The firm went under three years later.

CORRECTION: January 4, 2013, 8:00 AM This post originally stated that this incident took place on July 10, 1993. It actually took place on July 9 (as pointed out by reader Jonathan Goldsbie).

Comments

  • Michael

    I started work in the summer of ’96, on the 24th floor of that exact TD tower. Our first “get-to-know-you” social event taking place in that very room.

  • steeplejack

    I used to know one of the students who was there at the time. Apparently Mr. Hoy did this trick fairly frequently to freak them out. Without the falling out of the window part, that is. She was in the next room during a social gathering and there was some laughing, a “thump” and then screaming, and then an inexplicable inrush of air.

  • http://twitter.com/JosLaflamme Jos Laflamme

    Given that the story is true, why does it keep getting labelled as an Urban Legend? Aren’t “Urban Legends” supposed to be BS stories that cannot be factually attributed to an actual source?

    Gary Hoy’s death, is certainly legendary and it certainly happened in an urban environment, but it’s not BS and it has sources to verify its truth.

    • Anonymous

      Urban legends can be either true or false, all the term means is that it’s a story often repeated with varying details.

  • Sal Morejo

    He was married to Shirley Hoy the City of Toronto manager during the Lastman and early Miller terms

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=640246096 Simon Harvey

    I was a security guard at the building back then. My shift was the one after this, but I sure remember that the guys coming off shift when I arrived were pretty freaked out, so I was initially surprised to see it tagged as an “urban legend” here.

  • grinning dog

    I was in law school at the time this happened. We started referring to Holden Day Wilson as Hold In Da Window. Much chuckles all around.

  • Yuck

    Was this piece written by a psychopath? It’s bereft of a empathy.

    • Joe McBlow

      That’s mean spirited. He did say it was lamentable. I advise you not to follow the Darwin Awards.

      • Meh

        It’s easy to laugh at the typical Darwin Award winner because they’re strangers, you likely don’t know them or anyone who knew them. In this case, it’s a guy from Toronto who, from what I’ve heard, was a very nice guy who liked to joke around. Even in this thread there are people who experienced his death or know members of his family. Not being a killjoy, but the snark doesn’t go down as easy in this case.

        • Joe McBlow

          I’ll bite again. Schadenfreude, it’s evidently common enough that the Germans devised a word for it and english speaking peoples have adopted it. It’s also why things like the Darwin Awards and 1000 Ways to Die exist. Obviously you understand this as you explained part of this dynamic, at least in relation to strangers, in your first sentence. If I were a member of his family and I saw the headline I wouldn’t even click on the link. There’s no point in trying to police what is innocuous human behaviour and quite possibly something they engage in themselves – schadenfreude that is.