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Peregrine Falcon Perched in Leaside

Photo by: NEKCIS

At morning’s first light, a shrill, unfamiliar call can be heard echoing off the houses and throughout the neighbourhood. It is the sound of an urban peregrine falcon.

Surrounded by some of Toronto’s largest and most beautiful parks, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Leaside has its fair share of wildlife encounters. In addition to the typical raccoons, squirrels, rats, and birds found throughout the city, rabbits, groundhogs, red-tailed hawks, and even the odd possum can be seen from time to time. [click to continue…]

Dirty pool on Bayview

The development application for the mid-rise building with retail at grade on Bayview between Soudan and Hillsdale is an example of the dirty pool being played by some developers in the Midtown/Leaside area.

The Bayview developer, Brown Group, reduced its original application from eight storeys to seven, but it also bought up property on the residential street behind the proposed building.

Since the Official Plan restricts height and massing to a 45-degree angular plane taken from the edge of the property line, the further away the higher the height can go. But encroachment into adjacent Neighbourhoods-designated areas is contrary to the Official Plan. [click to continue…]

Committee chief blasts planners

There are signs that the political climate for development in Leaside and Midtown areas may be changing. Councillor David Shiner, chair of the city’s powerful Planning and Growth Management Committee (PGMC), delivered a scathing commentary to Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and other senior City Planning managers during the update on the Midtown in Focus Plan at the PGMC meeting on June 15. Effectively, he stated that City Planning had lost control over the Midtown area and he expects them to get control back.

It was a perfect day for baseball as the 1st annual Leaside Classic was held on Friday, June 17 at Rolph Road School for the boys and at Bennington Heights for the girls.

The idea came from St. Anselm’s School principal Richard Walo. “Baseball had been dropped this year from the Catholic board’s inter-school program, but many of our kids told me they wanted to play it, so I thought this would be a little friendly competition with the other Leaside schools. These kids all play together – at Leaside hockey or baseball or soccer; this time they get to represent their school.”

Walo approached his fellow principals at Rolph Road, Bennington and Bessborough and “they were all enthusiastic. Northlea was not able to participate, so we invited Eglinton Jr. Public School to round out the field.” [click to continue…]

How to find a good builder in Leaside

Where are the good builders in Leaside?

Recently, I received a long email from a Leaside resident complaining about the seemingly non-existent tree protection rules the city has in place for homes under construction in the area.

The author of the email was specifically upset about the treatment of an old tree on Rutherglen Rd. The exact address is immaterial to my article but if you live on the street I’m sure you can figure out which house I’m talking about.

The more salient point is that the builder’s treatment of this tree in the author’s opinion is a travesty. [click to continue…]

Supercost, up, up and away REAL ESTATE

As was expected, home prices in Leaside and Bennington Heights are not just rising – they are leaping up.

A bungalow on a 29.5-foot lot sold in May for 57 percent more than its list price, or $1,571,000.

That is more than the average price of all homes sold during the 12 months from May 2015 to this past May, $1,475,850.

And that average price is 8.3 percent higher than the average price of the previous 12 months, May 2014 to May 2015. [click to continue…]

Pancheta BarnettActor, writer, artist, philanthropist, board member, PhD, puppeteer, motivational speaker, reflexologist, soprano, art lover, volunteer, world traveller, avid lawn bowler, gardener, reader.

If you haven’t met Pancheta Barnett yet, it’s not surprising.

She’s a busy woman.

“I like learning and that’s why life is so interesting. Learning and doing – always finding something to do.”

She has no problem doing that.

Barnett is currently the president of the East York Historical Society and the vice-chair of the Toronto and East York Community Preservation Panel. [click to continue…]

Digital sign closer to approval

A new digital outdoor billboard for the Leaside Memorial Community Gardens is one step closer to approval.

The City of Toronto Planning and Growth Management Committee decided June 15 by a four to two vote to support the application for a sign by-law amendment. There were 400 emails, letters and petition signatures in favour. Councillor Jon Burnside said that apart from the LPOA he heard from only a few people who also opposed the sign.

The recommendation now goes to city council for a final decision.

I can maybe retire — thanks to all of you

My open letter early last month to Councillor Jon Burnside:

“Thank you so much for speaking to Leaside Atom Baseball about cleaning up the dugouts, bleachers and sports field at Trace Manes after games. They are doing a great job as is the tennis club and the library.

I feel like we finally live in a community that cares about the park and it is a pleasure to live across from it.

I’m going to be away for much of the summer so I feel I can leave with a happy heart knowing it is in good hands.

And members of the community are also rallying through the Leaside Community Facebook site. Could my work be done? I am ready to retire.”

A reply from Burnside: [click to continue…]

Rewriting the Bard

Dark Sovereign CoverEarly in the spring of 1983 I began writing Dark Sovereign. It takes the form of a play crafted precisely in English as our language stood in the year 1626, a decade after Shakespeare’s death. I must have been crazy.

My day job at the time was producing CBC’s the fifth estate, assembling the full television package ready for broadcast each Tuesday evening. It was a high-stress job; so high-stress that I sought some other activity to ease the strain. That was when I began to craft Dark Sovereign.

In 1983, Canadian newspapers were running stories from Britain marking the 500th year since the accession of King Richard III. King Richard, you may recall, is widely believed to have murdered his nephews before claiming the throne and reigning for 26 months before dying in battle on Bosworth Field. That’s all I learned about Richard III in British schools. [click to continue…]

A date to remember

The second annual Georgia Walsh Memorial All-Star Game is scheduled for Saturday, August 27, at Trace Manes Park.

Curious Idler – July 2016

A cardinal and three bishops at funeral mass

Thomas Cardinal Collins, three bishops and 26 priests celebrated a funeral mass for Msgr. Edward Boehler at St. Anselm’s Church on June 14.

The late pastor spent “13 happy years” at the Leaside church before his retirement. A man of few but well-chosen words, Msgr. Boehler was eulogized as “a man of great intelligence and competence” who selflessly used his gifts in a full life of pastoral service that influenced the lives of many in Leaside and across the Archdiocese of Toronto, home to 1.9 million Catholics. [click to continue…]

Leaside Rotary recently donated 250 dictionaries to the Thorncliffe Neighborhood Office (TNO) to be given to students, young and old, enrolled in the various literacy programs operated through TNO. It hopes to make this donation an annual affair.

Other initiatives by Leaside Rotary to reach out to Thorncliffe include a three-year commitment of $5,000 annually to send youngsters to a summer day camp sponsored by the TNO.

In addition, Leaside Rotary recently donated $1,500 to the Thorncliffe Soccer Club, its second year doing so.

Leaside Rotary is in the process of forming a satellite Rotary Club in Thorncliffe, initially designated as Leaside Rotary-Thorncliffe. In time it would be a standalone club with a member of that club sitting on the Leaside Board.

Aerial view of St. Anselm Church

A recent drone photograph of St. Anselm Church.

Most Leasiders are probably unaware of one of the most striking parts of St. Anselm’s Church, on Millwood at Bessborough, which has many striking parts.

It’s hard to notice the steeple, even though it’s four feet higher than the church itself, which is 50 feet high. The cross on top of the steeple is 12 feet high, which makes it the highest point in the area.

But it and the almost tortured history of the steeple are little known to non-parishoners. Many Leasiders know that two recent storms this year caused cladding to fly off the base of the steeple, but its history is much more interesting. [click to continue…]

The Father behind the church and parkette

Leaside, by Jane Pitfield“About 100 Catholic families were living in the mostly Protestant Town of Leaside at the time. Many had long cherished the idea of establishing their own Catholic community.” (St. Anselm’s Parish Celebrates 50 Years of Faith, 1938-1988, Toronto, Golla Graphics Ltd.)

Father Francis Michael Caulfield, arriving in an old jalopy, pulled up on Donegall Drive in 1938. His mission was to create a new parish, build a church and a school. Initially he settled into a rented home on Donegall Drive and began his work.

Father Caulfield spotted a bankrupt meat market and groceteria, located then at 609 Bayview Avenue (now… 1609 Bayview). He promptly leased it. The first Mass was celebrated here on July 31, 1938, and the site was named after St. Anselm of Canterbury, a saint born of noble parents in Piedmont in 1033 or 1034. [click to continue…]

Letters – July 2016

Katharina Duhatschek at her new home in Kilgour Estates

Katharina Duhatschek at her new home in Kilgour Estates

Memories of yesterday’s beauty shop

Last month Leaside Life featured an article about Sandy’s Cycle located at 864 Millwood Ave. during the 1970s and 1980s. The small shop was described as “the size of a two-seater barber shop” by Sandy’s son David.

This brought back many memories for me because at the back of the bicycle shop was a “two seater beauty salon” owned by my mother, Katharina Duhatschek. The shop was called Irene Anne’s Beauty Salon even though mom bought the business from a woman named May.

Neither May nor mom were willing to pay the few hundred dollars to change the business name so Irene Anne’s Beauty Salon survived long after Irene Anne herself disappeared. [click to continue…]

Helping to beautify Leaside

Leaside Grade 3 Students Planting at Trace Manes Park

Photo by: Nora Campbell

Local Grade 3 students got their hands dirty working with the Leaside Garden Society’s Junior Gardeners’ Program and city gardeners recently to beautify Father Caulfield Park, Leaside Library, Trace Manes Park and the corner of Eglinton and Bessborough.

A new map tracking Leaside history

Map of Leaside 1913-1934

Map of Leaside 1913 – 1934. © John Naulls, 2016

John Naulls created this historical 1913-1934 Leaside Map for Leaside Matters Lea Exhibit in May. The map was created from archival information at the Toronto Reference Library, Leaside maps from 1913, 1918, 1924, 1934 and aerial photos from 1918, 1930, 1940 and 1942. The map is $20 and will be available at the Leaside Rotary Corn Roast in September, or from Leaside Matters via this email.

Why did you create this map?

I wanted to graphically show the history and geography of Leaside from its incorporation as a town in 1913 to the period immediately prior to the dramatic housing boom of the late 1930s and early 1940s. To me that is the most interesting 20-year period in its 100-year history because it includes Leaside’s industrial beginnings, as a railway town, heavy industry and airfield, through to the closing of the airfield in 1931, and the rail yards in 1933, signalling a change. [click to continue…]

Most complaints about parking

Have you ever wondered what single issue I receive the most calls about?

While development, traffic volumes and driver behaviour are the overriding concerns of the community as a whole, on a day-to-day basis I receive more individual calls about parking tickets, specifically for parking more than three hours.

Believe it or not, this issue causes the most friction in the community and generates many calls each week. Some residents protest about cars being parked on Leaside streets overnight while others complain about the tickets they have received. [click to continue…]

Why a speeder wasn’t charged

An enraged Leasider wrote to me recently. He’d spotted a car being driven west at 53 km/h in the 40 km/h zone along Millwood Rd., as clocked by the speed detector sign at Rumsey. The driver maintained this speed, zooming past the intersection to beat the traffic light at Millwood and McRae where Georgia Walsh died.

The speed limit is clearly posted and the speed detector flashed to indicate excessive speed. So the Leasider was really annoyed. But what really got to him was that the car driving behind the speeder was a police car. He wrote down the number of the police car, and the time, and sent them to me, along with his rant: Why didn’t the police officer stop the driver and issue him with a speeding ticket? [click to continue…]

In the old days we ran our own show

As you know the Toronto Official Plan currently designates land east of Laird and south of Eglinton as the Leaside Employment Area. But do you remember when Leaside had its own official plan?

That was a time when we were actually able to control what was built in our own community. The Leaside Official Plan designated what is now called the Leaside Employment Area, as the Leaside Industrial Area. At that time the Leaside Industrial Area was truly a manufacturing centre that not only created employment but allowed the residents of Leaside to enjoy the lowest property taxes in what was then Metropolitan Toronto. [click to continue…]

Coach charged

Timothy Kendall, a former part-time coach this past winter with the Leaside Baseball Association, has been charged with possessing child pornography. Kendall, according to LBA executive Eric Stickney, worked with three teams between November 2015 and April 2016. The LBA has recommended parents speak to their kids. Parents with questions should contact police.

Oui the North — Leaside’s better moitié

Have you ever noticed that Leaside is a microcosm of North America?

We have two very similar but somewhat different communities, divided by a clear line, Eglinton Ave.

South Leaside is older, far more populous, much more built-up. It has more of just about everything – shopping, schools, cultural centres, playing fields, ice rinks, traffic problems, monster houses, and media (the offices of Leaside Life). South Leasiders have a strong sense of identity: they think they’re the real Leaside, the heart of Leaside, Leaside proper, essential Leaside. They sometimes forget about us in the north. [click to continue…]

Traffic proposals

The South Leaside Traffic Committee is recommending two changes at the intersection of Parkhurst/Soudan and Bayview. The first would prohibit left hand turns from both Parkhurst and Soudan during rush hour. The second would ban cars from crossing Bayview at all times of day. Right hand turns would continue to be allowed. The committee believes a traffic light would add to traffic tie-ups.