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Leaside (/'liːˌsaɪd/) is an affluent neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located northeast of Downtown Toronto, in the vicinity of Eglinton Avenue East and Bayview Avenue. The area takes its name from William Lea and the Lea family, who settled there in the early years of the 19th century. The area first developed as farmland along with Toronto through the 19th century. It was incorporated as a town in 1913. In 1967, it amalgamated with the township of East York to form the borough of East York. In 1998, it became part of the city of Toronto. It is commonly seen as one of the most expensive and exclusive neighbourhoods in the city with a median household income of $129,930, serving upper-middle-class families.
Itineris Stabilitas Sanitas
|Community||Toronto & East York|
|Established||1880s (Postal village)|
|Incorporated||April 23, 1913 (Town)|
|Changed Municipality||1954 Metropolitan Toronto from York County|
1998 Toronto from East York
|Annexed||1967 into East York|
|• MP||Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West)|
|• MPP||Kathleen Wynne (Don Valley West)|
|• Councillor||Jaye Robinson (Ward 15 Don Valley West)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Postal code span|
|Area code(s)||416, 647|
The general area of Toronto had been inhabited by various First Nations at least as early as 3000 BCE, when the Laurentian peoples moved south into the area just east of Toronto. The first European known to travel to the area was Étienne Brûlé, who passed through the area in the early part of the 17th century. Surveying by Europeans began in earnest in the 1780s, with people fleeing the American Revolution.
John Lea Sr. was born in 1773 in Lancashire and immigrated to York, Upper Canada in 1819, coming from Philadelphia in the United States where they immigrated to in 1818. Before immigrating, he married Mary Hutchison (born in Cumberland) and they had their first child in Lanchester on May 28, 1814 and named him William Lea. He purchased Lot 13 in the third concession from Alexander McDonnell on January 23, 1820 and settled there with his family. John Lea Sr. had three children - William, John Jr. and Mary. In 1851, William Lea bought land just south of his father's farm, and began constructing a large, octagonal brick house, which he named "Leaside". The house was completed in 1854, the same year John Lea Sr. died, aged 81. The building served not only as a home and court house for William Lea's family, but after he became a Magistrate in the County of York, soon served as a residence, a town hall and a post office as well. The property became the possession of William's eldest son Joseph upon his death in 1893. Joseph lived in the octagonal house until 1903. Afterwards, it was abandoned and later demolished by the Canadian Northern Railway in 1913. The company later set fire to the old landmark in order to clear the land to make way for the company's proposed sidings and townsite.
In the 1870s, the Ontario and Quebec Railway Company purchased a few acres (hectares) of land on the south-east corner of William Lea's property to run its railway across. The Ontario and Quebec Railway Company encountered financial difficulties in 1884, and leased part of its railway, including the section of track running through Leaside, to the Canadian Pacific Railway for 999 years. The Canadian Pacific Railway decided to establish a maintenance stop and a sliding by-pass on the railway on the land purchased from William Lea, which was considered attractive because it was uniformly flat. The station was completed in September 1894 and named "Leaside" in honour of William Lea. In 1892, a junction was built in the Leaside area, and a railway line named the Don Branch was constructed south along the Don River towards the original Union Station on Toronto's waterfront.
Development of a model townEdit
In 1912, William Mackenzie and Donald Mann, the owners of the Canadian Northern Railway, hired landscape architect Frederick Todd to plan development for a community to be built around a maintenance yard for their railway, which ran beside the CP lines through the Leaside area. Mackenzie and Todd founded the York Land Company to purchase land for such a town. The company purchased over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2; 400 ha), including most of the third concession and some land north of Eglinton Avenue. The purchased lands extended from the railway tracks in the south to three farms north of Eglinton Avenue, from Leslie Street in the east to Bayview Avenue in the west. The town of Leaside was planned by Todd for the company, which put its name to many of the local streets; Laird Drive, Hanna Road, and Wicksteed Avenue all bear the name of Canadian Northern Railway company executives. The new community was planned with commercial areas, residential areas, and a town centre west of Laird Drive, and space was laid out east of Laird Drive for industrial development. The goal of the company was to create Leaside as a new upper class residential area of Toronto, the "New Rosedale". The developers first approached the town of North Toronto, hoping that North Toronto would annex the area and provide services such as streets, sewers, and public transportation. The town council of North Toronto refused. A similar request to the city of Toronto was met with a similar reply. With their attempts to include Leaside within another city or town rebuffed, Colonel Davidson and Randolph McRae applied to the province of Ontario to incorporate Leaside as a town.
The Town of Leaside was officially incorporated on April 23, 1913. The population of Leaside was 43. The Canadian Northern Railway company approved Todd's town plan on May 8, 1913. A town council for Leaside was elected on May 8, 1913 and they approved the plan for the town on May 21, 1913, which was the final legal approval needed before the plan could be implemented. On June 21, 1913, the Toronto World carried the announcement that properties in Leaside's planned community would be marked in the fall of that year. In September 1913, lots went on sale within the planned community.
In 1914, the industrial area that had been set aside east of Laird Drive received its first tenant. Canada Wire and Cable began construction of a factory for production of 9.2 inch shells for World War I. In addition to the new factory, Canada Wire and Cable moved their other Toronto production plants to the same location to increase efficiency. Canada Wire and Cable also created the subsidiary company Leaside Munitions Company to oversee shell production. Soon after, construction began on a federal government owned airstrip, named Leaside Aerodrome. The York Land Company leased about 220 acres (0.9 km2; 89.0 ha) to the government for the airfield, between Wicksteed Avenue and Eglinton Avenue. On May 21, 1917 construction began on the airfield. At the close of the war, there were accommodations for around 1000 military personnel.
While the industrial development in the area went ahead as planned during World War One, the anticipated residential development did not occur. As late as 1929 the population remained under 500. World War I spurred the demand for industrial output but diminished the call for new housing. The bankruptcy of Canadian Northern Railway left the project at a loss and Leaside's isolated location made it unappealing to workers from Toronto.
Growth as a suburb of TorontoEdit
After the war, the strip became the site of Canada's first delivery of airmail on June 18, 1918, when pilot Brian Peck delivered 120 letters from Montreal, Quebec. This delivery was initially organised at the behest of some of his friends in Montreal who wanted letters delivered to Toronto; however, when Canada Post heard of the plans, they gathered together the letters as a test of an airmail system. After the war, with little need for shells and other war materials, the factories of the Leaside Munition Company were closed. These buildings were quickly occupied by the Durant Motor Company, which produced cars named Durants and Stars as well as the Rugby truck.
Leaside's growth slowed after World War I, with its primary industry being war industry. The existing houses had all been built for employees of the Leaside Munitions Company by the company. However, at this time Leaside stood on the edge of Toronto and was increasingly an appealing place for investment. Investors from Baltimore bought property that had previously belonged to Robert T. Davies for the construction of a race track. They formed the Thorncliffe Park Racing and Breeding Association Ltd. to operate the track.
The Leaside Viaduct was completed on October 29, 1927, providing easy connection between east Toronto and Leaside. This led to the rapid growth of Leaside at the time, and in the future. The impassibility of the Don River valley had previously made it difficult for people employed in Toronto to reside in Leaside. The same month, an underpass on Millwood Road was opened through the valley.
In 1928, the Lincoln Electric Company of Canada Ltd. relocated from Toronto's west end to Leaside. The company originally sold Lincoln motors in Canada, but incorporated in 1930 and began the manufacture of motors in Leaside. At the onset of the Great Depression, the Durant Motor Company ran into financial troubles. The last cars were produced in 1933, and the buildings were occupied by the Canada Wire and Cable company.
At the start of World War II, Lincoln Electric moved their operations to Leaside industrial park, adjacent to the Canada Wire and Cable plant. The new location, constructed in 1940, covered 300 square feet (28 m2). On July 16, 1940, Research Enterprises Limited was incorporated. The company operated only during the war, closing in 1946. It was, however, the largest single employer in Leaside's history, employing over 7500 men and women at its peak. The site manufactured military radio equipment and optical supplies, with a total value of $220 million (CDN) in goods produced during the war.
As part of a Royal Canadian Air Force public relations plan, the town of Leaside officially "adopted" No. 432 Squadron RCAF of No. 6 Group RCAF. Formed and adopted on 1 May 1943, the squadron took the town's name as its nickname, becoming 432 "Leaside" squadron RCAF. The sponsorship lasted the duration of the war.
On May 14, 1952, the Sunnybrook Plaza, located on the north-east corner of Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East, became one of the first shopping centres in Toronto. The site was previously a marsh where people dug loam for their gardens.
In 1952 the Lincoln Electric company expanded to a 2,200-square-foot (200 m2) plant, and their site expanded to cover almost 7 acres (28,000 m2; 2.8 ha). They leased an additional 500-square-foot (46 m2) building in Leaside to house their distribution center.
The rapid growth of Thorncliffe in the 1950s necessitated the construction of a second north–south bridge across the Don Valley. In 1955, Leaside's population had grown to 16,779  and the Leaside town council approved the second bridge. Construction of the bridge was completed on September 7, 1960 and it was opened by Leslie Frost. The bridge was named the Charles Hiscott Bridge in honour of Leaside's mayor at the time.
Amalgamation and recent historyEdit
Passenger train service to Leaside Station ended in 1970, and the station was closed. The station would reopen briefly in the 1980s as a restaurant, but would see no further passenger traffic. Leaside Airport fell into disuse, and in 1971 the last hangar was demolished.
Canada Wire and Cable was purchased by Alcatel in 1991, and the operations relocated to Markham in 1996, with the location being converted to a shopping centre. The plant had expanded through the years and been a major influence in Leaside, employing over 2700 workers at its peak. It had also been a strong influence over the community in other ways, investing in the community in various ways, including the construction of a water main in 1918.
Line 5 Eglinton, also known as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, will have 3 stations in Leaside when completed in 2022: underground stations at Bayview Avenue and at Laird Drive, and a grade level station at Leslie Street.
Leaside is made up predominantly of single-family homes housing upper-middle-class families. The most famous house in Leaside is James Lea's, located at 201 Sutherland Drive. Built in 1909, it is unique in that the back of the house faces Sutherland Drive. It was originally built to face a street that no longer exists.
Due to city expansion, Leaside has become prime real estate with the GTA, and has attracted many local celebrities, such as NHL goaltender Trevor Kidd, Avalanche winger Darcy Tucker, Ex-NHL player Doug Gilmour, and comedian Colin Mochrie and his actress wife Deb McGrath.
The largest recreation centre in Leaside is Leaside Memorial Community Gardens which includes an indoor swimming pool, two ice rinks, a curling rink, and a large auditorium. It also was where Peter Mahovlich Sr., father of the famous NHL brothers,[who?] worked after coming to Toronto in the 1950s from the Timmins area, because of Frank's impressive hockey skills as a youth in the Porcupine.[clarification needed]
Serena Gundy Park is in the north-east corner of Leaside. The parkland was donated to Leaside in 1960 by the estate of James H. Gundy. The park covers 62.6 acres (253,000 m2; 25.3 ha) which are generally in a natural state. The park is used for picnicking and hiking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. The park is also connected by walking paths to Sunnybrook Park.
Trace Manes Park is in south Leaside. The park is home to the Leaside Tennis club and sports six tennis courts. Other facilities in the park include a playground, a baseball diamond, and an outdoor ice rink in winter.
Northlea Elementary and Middle School is located on the site of the old Divadale Estate on Rumsey Road north of Eglinton Avenue. It was opened in 1944 and had 15 classrooms. In 1991–93, the school underwent extensive renovations and the school now educates over 800 students. The renovation provided additional classroom space to the school as well as a new library, and second gymnasium. The playing field is artificial turf. The school is operated by the Toronto District School Board. Northlea is a dual track school offering regular English programs from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8, and French Immersion programs from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 8. Northlea welcomes commuters for the impressive French Immersion programs.
Bessborough Elementary and Middle School, located close to Leaside High School in South Leaside, has offered education to those living in the older part of Leaside. St. Anselm Catholic School, also located on Bessborough Drive, opened in 1939 and presently has an enrollment of 340 students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8.
Rolph Road Elementary School, an elementary school for junior kindergarten to grade 6, is the other elementary school in the neighbourhood. Located on Rolph Road, it is in South Leaside and is a feeder school to Bessborough.
Leaside High School began on the top floor of Rolph Road School in 1945. The "new" high school opened in September 1948 and welcomed back local students who had been attending Lawrence Park and Jarvis Collegiate.
Along with the growth of these schools in the 1940s and 1950s, the growing population of Leaside also supported one of North Toronto's first preschools. Sunnybrook School was founded in 1952 in the basement of St. Augustine of Canterbury Church in Leaside. In 1960 the school moved to its present 469 Merton Street location, just west of Leaside in Davisville.
In addition to the Toronto District School Board, three other public school boards also operate in the city. The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), is a public English separate school board; Conseil scolaire Viamonde is a secular French public school board; and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud is a French separate public school board. However, the French school boards do not operate a school in the Leaside neighbourhood.
St. Anselm Catholic School is a coeducational, Catholic, elementary school in the south of Toronto, Ontario. It was named after the philosopher and theologian of Canterbury, Saint Anselm. It was established in 1939, with only 2 classrooms under principal Mary Breen. Additions to the school were made in 1943, 1947 and 1951. The library and gymnasium were added in 1966. Today the school serves students from Kindergarten to 8th grade. In 1997, the MSSB/TCDSB made funds for the school to be a two-story building. When the school was being renovated, the students were moved to 1107 Avenue Road, which is now Marshall McLuhan. The students came back to the newly renovated school in 1998.
Bloorview School Authority is an educational facility physically located within the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in north Leaside, although they are each separate legal entities. The Bloorview School Authority offers various educational programs for children, some of whom are patients in the hospital. Included in the offerings is a full day program for children from junior kindergarten to grade one, based on Ontario school curriculum.
The first town council for Leaside was elected on May 8, 1913. The council had five members: Randolph McRae, who served as the mayor, and Harvey Fitzsimmons, Laurence Boulton, George Saunders and Archibald McRae who served as aldermen. All were acclaimed in the election, all were employees of the Canadian Northern Railway.
From 1913 to 1966, Leaside had its own mayor. The last four occupants were - Howard T. Burrell (1951–1955); Charles H. Hiscott (1956–1961); Lloyd M. Dickinson (1962); Beth Nealson (1963–1966).
In 1967, Leaside was amalgamated with the township of East York to form the borough of East York, from this point forward Leaside was a community within East York, and governed by the municipal council of East York. Amalgamation was opposed by Leaside residents fearing residential tax increases and the loss of the Leaside community identity. Taxes in Leaside were lower than the surrounding regions as residential taxes in Leaside were subsidized by those from industrial areas; residential taxes climbed in Leaside every year from 1967 to 1972. Beth Nealson, the last mayor of Leaside ran against True Davidson (the reeve of East York) for mayor of the amalgamated borough. Nealson lost to Davidson.
In 1998, East York (including Leaside) was amalgamated with the City of Toronto to form the City of Toronto, from this point forward Leaside was a community within Toronto, and governed by the municipal council of Toronto.
In 2006, incumbent Don Valley West councillor Jane Pitfield, whose ward included Leaside, ran for mayor. Former Progressive Conservative MPP John Parker won her former seat in that year's election. In the 2010 Toronto municipal election that saw Rob Ford elected to the office of Mayor of Toronto, Parker won another tight race for councillor of Ward 26, beating runner up Jon Burnside by only 415 votes. After a tumultuous term of increased traffic in the neighbourhood and rapid development along the Laird Drive corridor and in Thorncliffe Park, Parker lost the seat to Burnside by a margin of 3,248 votes.
Mayors of the Town of LeasideEdit
Mayors of Leaside from the town's incorporation until its merger into East York.
- 1913-1914 Randolph McRae - former official in the Canadian Northern Railway's Land Department
- 1915-1923 Robert Phipps Ormsby - secretary of the Canadian National Railway
- 1924-1930 Herbert Horsfall - president of Canada Wire and Cable Company, co-founder of the Leaside Munitions Company, and president of the Leaside Housing Company.
- 1931-1935 George H. Wilkinson - station agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Parkdale
- 1936-1937 John Scott
- 1938-1947 Henry Howard Talbot - a carpenter by trade, he started a construction business and in the 1920s, bought land in Leaside and became a land developer, building homes and a low-rise apartment building
- 1948-1950 G. Trace Manes - one of the founders of the Leaside Baseball Association, Manes worked for Massey-Harris for 38 years. After serving as mayor he was a member of the Metro Planning Board
- 1951-1955 Howard T. Burrell - a chartered accountant by profession
- 1956-1961 Charles Henry Hiscott - resigned as mayor to become the town's treasurer. Subsequently worked as a bylaw enforcement officer and standards tribunal officer for East York.
- 1962 Lloyd M. Dickinson - an entrepreneur, Dickinson variously owned a plastics products firm, a real estate holding company, and in the 1970s built the first industrial condominiums in Canada.
- 1963-1966 Beth Nealson - a former reporter and columnist for a local newspaper, she first ran for school trustee at the urging of her colleagues in the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire in 1952. Went on to be elected to Leaside council in 1959 and ran for mayor against Dickinson in the next election, defeating him by 5 votes after a recount. She became known as "Mrs. Leaside". When East York and Leaside were amalgamated she ran against East York reeve True Davidson to be mayor of the new borough in what was billed by the media as the "Battle of the Belles".
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- "St. Anselm's Catholic School Website".
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- "Bloorview School Authority". Bloorview School Authority.
- "The Town of Leaside - Mayors". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- Pitfield, p. 26.
- Bradburn, Jamie (2014-07-19). "Historicist: The Battle of the Belles". Torontoist. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
- "Jon Burnside wins Ward 26, Don Valley West".
- "2014 General Election Results for City Ward 26 - Don Valley West".
- Pitfield, Jane (2008-09-03). Leaside. ISBN 9781770707214.
- "Two more Leaside streets bear CNR names". Leaside Life. July 1, 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- SAY THIS MAYOR SHOULD LOSE JOB: C.N.R. Employees at Leaside Are After Scalp of R. P. Ormsby The Globe (1844-1936); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]29 Dec 1920: 6.
- "The Leaside Munitions Company, 1916-19". Leaside Life. August 1, 2017. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- "In the good old days Leaside was stinky". Leaside Life. April 1, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- Obituaries: Former Leaside Mayor, Herbert Horsfall Dies The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]22 Aug 1955: 11
- MAKER OF VIOLINS TOUCHED WITH GENIUS McAREE, J V.The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]17 Apr 1948: 6
- Mayor of Leaside Loses Third Term, Toronto Daily Star (1900-1971); Toronto, Ontario [Toronto, Ontario]07 Dec 1937: 6.
- Redway, Alan (September 1, 2012). "The developer who moulded our character". Leaside Life. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- What is in a name?: [ONT Edition] Winsa, Patty. Toronto Star; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]16 Nov 2007: A17.
- Metro Planner Leaside Mayor For Three Years G Tracy Manes. The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]12 Jan 1954: 31
- Burrell Opposes Birrell For Leaside Mayoralty The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]30 Nov 1950: 5.
- Leaside mayor was treasurer Hiscott, Charles H.The Globe and Mail (1936-2016); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]24 Jan 1974: 55.
- Lloyd Dickinson, 65, served as councillor, Leaside mayor: [SAT Edition] Robert Sutton Toronto Star. Toronto Star; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]08 Feb 1986: A12.
- Lloyd Dickinson, The Globe and Mail; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]07 Feb 1986: S.9.
- Bradburn, Jamie (July 19, 2014). "Historicist: The Battle of the Belles". The Torontoist. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
- Beth Nealson, 83 last mayor of Leaside: [SA2 Edition] Desmond Bill Toronto Star. Toronto Star; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]15 Jan 1994: A6
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- Jane Pitfield, ed. (2000) . Leaside (2nd ed.). Toronto: National Heritage Books. p. 324. ISBN 978-1-896219-54-7.
- Jack I. Rempel (1982). The Town of Leaside - a brief history. Toronto: East York Historical Society.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leaside.|
- Leaside-Bennington neighbourhood profile
- The story of Leaside. Leaside, Ont. : Leaside Town Council, 1931. 32 p. : ill., map, ports. Accessed 4 January 2014, in PDF format.