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Stanley Cup dreams lead to Grey Cup ring

Former Toronto Argonaut Mike Bradwell with his parents Anne and John Bradwell of North Leaside at the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame induction of November 18th. Photo by Jeremy Lewis.

Former Toronto Argonaut Mike Bradwell with his parents Anne and John Bradwell of North Leaside at the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame induction of November 18th. Photo by Jeremy Lewis.

“I was never really that interested in football as a kid,” says Mike Bradwell.

It’s a surprising admission coming from the former Toronto Argonaut with a 2012 Grey Cup to his name, who was inducted this past month into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame. “In fact,” he adds, “I didn’t even play football until my final year at Leaside High School.”

Bradwell, who grew up on Rykert Crescent in North Leaside, the youngest of three children to parents John and Anne Bradwell, was, like most Canadian kids at the time, more interested in hockey. [click to continue…]

Let’s set the record straight – we’re on your side!

Occasionally the LPOA hears from Leasiders who either disagree with a position the board has taken or who have been led to believe that we are about to take a position which could harm the community. At November’s monthly LPOA board meeting, a number of residents deputed in support of the amended design for 939 Eglinton Avenue East, agreed to by developer Steve Diamond and the working group initiated by Councillor Jon Burnside.

Their fear was that the LPOA, unless it voted to approve the recently amended development proposal, would cause the developer to drop all of the improvements the working group had worked toward and ‘force’ him to go to the Ontario Municipal Board with his original, much more massive, proposal. And it would all be the LPOA’s fault. [click to continue…]


David Blyth Hanna (1858 - 1938)

David Blyth Hanna (1858 – 1938)

Like many streets in Leaside, Hanna Road was named for a railway executive – David Blyth Hanna.

David Blyth Hanna of Thornliebank, Scotland (1858-1938) held various positions in railway companies in Leaside and across Canada.

The railway worker first came to Canada at the age of 24 to work with the Grand Trunk Railway Company’s Manitoba department as an accountant. He was later put in charge of 130 miles of track that were to serve as an immigration route for settlers arriving there.

On one occasion, when the train hit a cow, David and his men loaded the carcass into the baggage car of their train and butchered it there. When the train reached the end of the line, he sold the meat to a contractor and shared half the proceeds with the farmer who had owned the cow. [click to continue…]

Leaside: Once an established neighbourhood full of friendly, main-street shops, well-paid jobs, character homes, “reasonable” traffic, ample parking, and strong community ties.

Ah yes, the good old days. Neighbours had time to stop and chat, families could attend programs a short walk from home, retail amenities were a mere stroll away, parents could be home in time for dinner to be with their families, homes were comfortable, practical and affordable. This was the pulse of our entire city.

Of course it couldn’t last forever. Everyone wanted a piece of the dream, and it came at a huge cost: Developers swooped in and provided the amenities that many communities seemed to be ripe for: denser housing projects, large retail developments, and, recently, our new Crosslink LRT. Great for many, and especially for the municipalities, which receive enormous lifts in property taxes as a result. [click to continue…]

Leasider Angela Leahey named the 2016 Boehringer Ingleheim Oncology Nurse of the Year. Photo by Doug Nichol.

Leasider Angela Leahey named the 2016 Boehringer Ingleheim Oncology Nurse of the Year. Photo by Doug Nichol.

Sudbury’s loss is Leaside and Sunnybrook’s gain.

Though Angela Leahey was born in Toronto, she grew up in Sudbury where her father was an engineer with Inco. She graduated in nursing from Laurentian University in 1991 after developing a keen interest in oncology nursing through a student placement. For the next two years she worked at three part-time jobs (one of which was teaching aerobics) to make ends meet because there weren’t full-time nursing jobs available in Sudbury.

As luck would have it, shortly after her boyfriend, Pat, moved to Toronto, Ange was able to get a full-time job at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. So back south she came.

She was fortunate that shortly after starting at Sunnybrook, she was able to switch to the oncology department, where she has remained ever since. When asked what drew her to oncology, she told me, “I discovered that I loved that aspect of nursing – where people are going through difficult times and need to talk about life and death in all its complexities.” [click to continue…]

Bundling up for Canadian winter

Thorncliffe Park residents Amjad Alhayak, wife Roaa & son Ward shop for winter coats. Photo by Jennifer Rajasekar.

Thorncliffe Park residents Amjad Alhayak, wife Roaa & son Ward shop for winter coats. Photo by Jennifer Rajasekar.

There are some 200-plus Syrian refugees now living in the Thorncliffe Park Drive area who are facing their first full Canadian winter, according to Mohamed Edris, settlement counsellor for the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office.

“Winter is a very challenging time for the newcomers so their first priority is winter clothing,” he said.

Among the new arrivals are Amjad Alhayak, his wife Roaa, and four-year-old son Ward, who arrived in June. They have been busy shopping for coats and boots with money provided by an anonymous donor.

“We really appreciate the interest and concern everyone has shown about our first winter in Canada,” he said. “We have snow in Syria, but I guess the winter here will be much different than in my country. After the help we have received, we are ready to welcome the winter.” [click to continue…]

160 luncheons prepared, and they're still smiling. L to R: Mary Turner, Ruth Bates, Heather Conolly, Jan Goodman, Betty Crichton and Diane Gray. Photo by Karli Vezina.

160 luncheons prepared, and they’re still smiling. L to R: Mary Turner, Ruth Bates, Heather Conolly, Jan Goodman, Betty Crichton and Diane Gray. Photo by Karli Vezina.

In the everyday hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get lost in your own world. Often it isn’t until the holidays roll around that many begin to consider ways to help out and volunteer their time. When people think of volunteering, they may think of the mandatory community hours they or their children had to complete to graduate from high school. Others may consider the Canadian Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, or Habitat for Humanity where disaster relief sometimes takes you out of your own backyard and into other countries where help is needed most. [click to continue…]

Regnard Raquedan and wife, Liza

Regnard Raquedan and wife, Liza

What do you do if you have a problem and can’t find a solution to it? Well, if you’re Leaside resident Regnard Raquedan, you create a solution yourself.

About two years ago Raquedan and his wife, who both have expertise in information technology design, development and security, had their first daughter. They began looking for daycare spots but noticed there wasn’t a central database of daycare centres available and came up with the idea to start up CubbySpot, a mobile platform that connects parents with daycare centres across Canada.

At the time the couple were living in downtown Toronto and working on developing CubbySpot in the Founder Institute, a business and technology incubator centre. When Raquedan’s wife became pregnant with their second child, they decided to relocate to a more family-oriented community and moved to the Scenic on Eglinton condominiums at Vanderhoof Ave. and Brentcliffe Rd. where they now live and work. [click to continue…]

Letters – December 2016

Re: Carol Burton-Fripp and no movie rescue for Leaside

Carol Burtin- Fripp says there is no movie rescue for Leaside. I wonder if she saw “Animal House”. Fripp pondered the responsibility of the planners. If planners are professional they have a duty to advise council if density is problematic. They have a duty to give due consideration to parks, schools and infrastructure. They acknowledge it, then ignore it. The current regime in the planning department is more interested in pretty streetscapes. What an appalling situation. Where is the oversight? [click to continue…]

These Wildcats are roaring strong

Picture of wildcats team

The Toronto Leaside Wildcats (also known as The Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association) are the largest female hockey association in Ontario, in Canada, and potentially, the world. Think about that. This volunteer-run, not-for-profit association formed in 1974 has just shy of 1,600 members and continues to grow.

The Wildcats Junior team competes at the highest level of female minor hockey in the province. This team, comprising women under 19 years of age, participates in a 38-game season, playing against the top competition from Windsor to Ottawa. These young athletes are destined for varsity hockey at Canadian and American universities and colleges. In fact, seven players have already accepted scholarships for next year and three of them represented Ontario in the under 18 Nationals held in Regina this November. [click to continue…]

These Flames burn bright

With almost half of the GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League) season completed, only four of 206 GTHL East teams remain undefeated. Included among this elite group of undefeated teams are two from the Leaside Hockey Association. The Minor Bantam “A” Leaside Flames, led by head coach Dave Jerome, have a perfect record of 15 wins, 0 losses, 0 ties. The Minor Midget “A” Leaside Flames, led by head coach Scott Bryan, have an almost perfect record of 15 wins, 0 losses & 3 ties. Both teams lead their respective divisions.

Erin O'Brien and her boyfriend, Paul Versteeg-Lytwyn, Bayview Ave. enjoy date night at Val-d'Isère

Erin O’Brien and her boyfriend, Paul Versteeg-Lytwyn, Bayview Ave. enjoy date night at Val-d’Isère

Saturday was our date night, so my boyfriend Paul and I decided to try out the “new” restaurant on Bayview Ave., Val d’Isère. While walking up the street the week before I had noticed a new sign at Tinto Tapas. I looked it up and read that it had been converted into an Alpine chalet-themed restaurant and would remain so during the winter. When we first arrived we noticed the new décor: fur-lined bench backs, antlers on the walls along with snow-shoes and assorted Stiegl paraphernalia.

As soon as we were seated, owner Otta Zapotocky came over to welcome us. Our server Tom was very friendly, smiling and joking with us the entire night. We didn’t have to wait long to be served. I looked at the wine list and wanted the valpolicella, but was told it was sold out. Tom let me try samples of two other similar wines, and I ended up with the smooth, medium-bodied French Domaine des Anges, which ended up going well with everything. [click to continue…]

It’s ho-ho-ho time at Leaside’s schools

It’s the holiday season and Leaside’s schools are buzzing with students preparing for fun-filled festivities. Here are just a few of the plans to make merry this season:

St. Anselm Catholic School

A major highlight is St. Anselm Catholic School’s holiday concert, which will be held next door at St. Anselm Catholic Parish Church on Wed., Dec. 14. This year, as part of “The Year of the Parish” program, a mass will take place at 6 p.m., followed by the concert at 7 p.m. Kathleen Wynne, MPP for Don Valley West, Rob Oliphant, MP for Don Valley West, and Jon Burnside, Councillor for Ward 26, have all been invited.

A special highlight of this concert is the performance by the Governor-General’s Horse Guards Band accompanying the various student choirs. The appearance of the band is made possible by virtue of the fact that David Nespolo, the school’s Grade 6 and 7 teacher, is a member of it. This is a very popular community event and guests are advised to arrive early to get seats.

In addition, a school choir directed by Kim Blanchet will make two appearances in the community, one at The Millwood Seniors’ Residence (921 Millwood) on Tues., Dec. 13, at 2 p.m., and the other at the Bayview Valu-Mart during the lunch hour on Fri., Dec. 16. [click to continue…]

Leaside’s gone to the (feral) cats

feral_cats_webI like to run in Leaside. And not just the pretty residential streets with their lush gardens and Little Free Libraries, but the industrial areas that remind us of Leaside’s original origins as more of a hard scrabble railway neighbourhood.

One day as I was heading past Brentcliffe toward Leslie, far past the retail strips and into the land of chain link fences and rubbly parking lots, something caught my eye. Or, rather, someone. It was a large grey and white cat slinking into a well-constructed little house tucked behind the chain link fences.

Later, I would learn from cat rescuers and carers Michelle and Liz that this was Rooster, one of the many feral feline habitués living in this long-standing Leaside cat colony. No one is quite sure how old the colony is, but it’s at least 15 years, when Michelle first came on board as a feeder, trapper and caretaker. [click to continue…]

To Airbnb, or not to Airbnb – that is the question

The Best Western Roehampton Hotel and the Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites are the closest hotels to Leaside

The Best Western Roehampton Hotel and the Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites are the closest hotels to Leaside

In November’s issue, my column discussed five possible ideas for a new building on the one-acre site at the northeast corner of Laird Dr. and Wicksteed Ave. that up until recently was the home of Four Seasons Auto Collision.

Whether it’s old age creeping in, I completely forgot to include boutique hotel among the list of five possibilities, and that got me thinking about the highly contentious issue of Airbnb.

Unless you’re living without internet or television it’s impossible not to be aware of the problems cities, communities, and neighbourhoods are facing as a result of the highly successful short-term rental housing website that’s met the needs of over 60 million guests worldwide since its founding in 2008.

In finance, Airbnb is what they call a “unicorn” because it’s valued at more than $1 billion. In fact, it’s the second-most valuable privately held tech company in the U.S. at $41 billion. Needless to say, it’s got the financial wherewithal to legally fight any community that sees fit to do battle with it. [click to continue…]


Interior of Write Impressions

Interior of Write Impressions

The holidays are quickly approaching, and if you’re anything like me, the crowds and hustle and bustle aren’t your favourite things about this joyous season. Luckily we live in a vibrant community that offers a lot of fantastic choices when it comes to shopping for our friends and loved ones. So instead of taking the car to the mall, why not take a stroll in Leaside and start your shopping in our charming neighbourhood.


Get your holiday glow on with a luxurious Dermalogica Gift Set from Glow Spa. Sets range in price from $80-$109. Include a gift certificate for spa services for the ultimate luxury gift. Glow Spa, 1675 Bayview Ave. 416-483-GLOW. [click to continue…]

The Curious Idler

Potential layout of Leaside in 2022

Big, BIG buildings

The almost $7 billion Eglinton Crosstown project, the 19 km light rail line running from Mount Dennis in the west to Kennedy station in the east, is now well underway. With an expected completion date of 2022, the project has started to change the face of Eglinton Ave. In Leaside, developers are rushing to start projects from Bayview to Brentcliffe. As Councillor Jon Burnside keeps telling us, the billions of dollars being invested in public transit that runs rights through the middle of Leaside ensures that development will continue to come to our neighbourhood. So it’s absolutely imperative to find a way for developers and the community to work together. [click to continue…]

Saving street character on MacNaughton Road

Lovers of “Leaside character” grimace when they see a teardown happening on a Leaside street. Unfortunately, the replacement homes rarely “fit in,” unlike the house that is demolished. A teardown is forever, and seems to lead to many more teardowns, until the street is at a “tipping point,” where saving the original streetscape “look” may no longer be feasible.

The first teardown on a street with no teardowns – now that’s an issue worth fighting for. At least that was the feeling on MacNaughton Road when the immediate neighbours received a Committee of Adjustment (COA) notice advising them of a new home at 9 MacNaughton. And by the way, the existing house, a bungalow, would be demolished.

MacNaughton is a remarkable street of intact Tudor and Georgian Revival-style homes, either originals or renovated homes with the original street façades (several have had major renovations that have expanded the original modest homes, while retaining the street façade). And it’s at the heart of Leaside’s nominated Heritage Conservation District. [click to continue…]

Did you ever carelessly throw a recycling item into the garbage? Are you lax about how much waste you create or energy you use? Do you really understand the effects of global warming?

Well, the students in our local schools understand how to recycle, reuse and conserve. Each school voluntarily takes part in a unique program called EcoSchools. This program was developed by the TDSB and now is used by boards across the province.

EcoSchools is an environmental certification program for K-12 schools that nurtures student leadership, deepens ecological literacy, and builds strong communities. Schools are audited yearly and are certified at one of four levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze. We currently have 311 certified EcoSchools, and 10 certified Outdoor Education Schools at the TDSB.

The certification process is rigorous and I am very pleased to say that our schools have achieved high levels:

Leaside High School Gold
Northlea Elementary & Middle School Silver
Bessborough Elementary & Middle School Gold
Rolph Road Elementary School Platinum
Bennington Heights Elementary School Gold

[click to continue…]

A phoenix rises from the ashes in Leaside

bellwoods_webOctober 27 saw the grand opening of the new Bellwood Health Services and Waterstone Clinic, a completely renovated treatment facility at 175 Brentcliffe, in the former Donwood Institute.

Founded by Dr. Gordon Bell in 1967, it was one of Canada’s first addiction treatment hospitals.

This repurposing of the Donwood is also a major relief for North Leaside residents who had feared a developer would buy the 9.5-acre site at the far end of the “institutional lands” on Leaside’s northern edge from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and turn the property into high-density housing. [click to continue…]

Bag those leaves!

It’s a warm, sunny, windy, mid-November day and my neighbourhood walk is so pretty!

The leaves are in full colour, some still on tree branches, some fluttering gently down, and many nestled on lawns, sidewalks and roadways.

We have no leaf-bearing trees on our property, yet as I arrive home I see that our driveway and sidewalk are covered with maple and oak leaves. It doesn’t seem fair!

Organic litter? I want to take them back to their owners, but that’s not really viable. I consider waiting for a windy day and hope they blow into someone else’s yard. Then I sigh, pick up a rake and begin the process of collecting and bagging other people’s leaves. [click to continue…]

Letter from Leaside Life

‘Tis the season to be thankful

Our friends to the south have just celebrated Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving in Canada is closer to harvest time, there are still many reasons to be thankful as we head into the holiday season.

Here at Leaside Life we are proud to be part of such a dynamic community, experiencing tremendous growth (not all of it good, admired, or welcome!). But despite the many issues associated with rapid change, we are still fortunate to live in such a warm, welcoming community where people genuinely care about one another. It’s still possible to walk down a main street like Bayview or Laird and run into neighbours who stop to talk, laugh, and maybe share a coffee, tea or pint. [click to continue…]

Moonbows over Leaside?

This a photo of a meteorite and a Moonbow around a Hunter's Moon. A moonbow is technically known as a 22? moon halo. The 22? Moon Halo is formed when moonlight passes through ice crystals in the atmosphere and are refracted approximately 22?.One of the difficulties of being a small town in the middle of a great metropolis is that Toronto keeps intruding on our airspace.

I don’t mean planes on flight paths to Pearson, but rather the lights from the city that spoil star-gazing for Leasiders. It really isn’t very good for us, even on the darkest nights, because Toronto has a way of polluting our darkness.

I don’t ask for much here – I’m not an astronomy buff looking for the moons of Jupiter – but it would be nice to see the Milky Way now and then from, say, second base in Talbot Park. [click to continue…]

Bellwood opens its doors

In this good news article, I’m really only the reporter.

The Donwood Institute was founded in 1967 by Dr. Gordon Bell and was located beside the peaceful ravine setting on Brentcliffe Rd. in North Leaside. Although one of Canada’s first addiction treatment hospitals, this nine-acre site fell victim to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) restructuring plans and was closed in 2008.

When news of its pending closure surfaced in 2007, it became a major provincial election issue with then candidates Kathleen Wynne and John Tory, both vowing to keep the property in public hands. Many North Leaside residents were wary of the election promises, still fearing the site would be sold for condo development.

Since becoming a councillor in late 2014, I have had a stream of inquiries about its fate. The presence of land surveyors and construction vehicles only stirred the pot of curiosity and concern.
One year ago, I held a community meeting with Bellwood Health Services to inform the community of the new tenant’s important – and welcome – health-care facility plans. A $7 million renovation ensued and Bellwood formally opened its doors at the beginning of November. The 88-bed facility, which is part of the Edgewood Health Network, offers treatment for addiction, PTSD and eating disorders.

Like the many residents who reached out to my office, I am relieved and very pleased with this outcome. I was largely a bystander in the process, so thanks should be directed to our MPP, Premier Wynne, who was insistent that the lands not be sold, as well as to Chris Dawson, the CEO of the Edgewood Health Network, who worked tirelessly since 2009 to bring his dream to reality.

(To read more about the Bellwood opening, read our feature in this issue by Geoff Kettel.)

Ward boundary review

Following in our provincial and federal counterparts’ footsteps, Toronto underwent a “boundary review.” Since the last review in 2000, Toronto has seen unprecedented growth of 30,000 new residents per year. However, the growth has been very uneven; some wards have as few as 44,000 residents while others boast as many as 100,000+. Ward 26 has almost 70,000, which makes our ward larger than the City average.

The overarching goal is one of “effective representation,” which in many ways comes down to voter parity, namely, that each citizen’s vote has roughly the same weight.

In late spring, the City’s independent consultants suggested that we add three more councillors, thereby increasing our total from 44 to 47.

Mayor Tory was very much opposed to adding politicians and asked the consultants to find a way to make 44 councillors a viable format. While this would have been my preference, the consultants were unable to draw the boundaries such that Leaside wouldn’t be divided into two different wards.

Many residents, including the LPOA, expressed deep concerns with the 44-ward option. Given that the goal was voter parity while maintaining communities of interest, as well as observing natural and physical boundaries, I supported the 47-ward option, which passed at Council 28-13. Leaside and Bennington Heights will remain intact as will the rest of Ward 26 with the exception of Wynford Heights.

Any resident can appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, so the new boundaries may not be in effect until 2022.

You can reach me at

How a faulty alarm clock led to a career in cooking MEET YOUR RETAIL NEIGHBOUR

Otta Zapotocky

Otta Zapotocky

Otta Zapotocky arrived as a visitor in Vancouver from the Czech Republic as a 19-year-old, on November 5, 1999. How is it that he is now the owner of both L’Avenue and Val d’Isère (with a grave accent on that middle e, please) on Bayview? It’s a bit of a story for such a relatively young man.

Otta grew up in a small town about an hour north of Prague, near the German border. His mother and her four sisters were all chefs. His father was a locksmith but could rebuild anything that had wheels and gears. Otta’s mother, who worked at a restaurant, walked her young son to school the first day, but relied on an alarm clock set on a plate with cutlery to wake him and get him moving after that. Almost inevitably, the clock was not fool-proof, so his mother decided to bring young Otta to work with her when he missed school. In theory, he was supposed to sleep on the benches of the restaurant and stay out of the way. In fact, he decided it was more fun to be in the kitchen, chopping. So began his culinary career. [click to continue…]