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Born in the fast lane – and still there Meet your neighbour

Elaine Snider and granddaughter Sarah Snider.

Elaine Snider and granddaughter Sarah Snider. Photo by: Bill Snider

Leaside resident, former teacher and busy volunteer Elaine Snider started life in the fast lane – literally. She and her twin sister were born as the taxi her mom was in was racing downtown from Moore Park to Toronto Western Hospital.

“My mother didn’t know she was having twins,” she says. “My sister Claire was born in the cab. My grandmother delivered her and I was born just as they were about to transfer my mom out of the taxi.

“The cab got into an accident too! My grandmother broke a rib and my mom hurt her arm. But we arrived just fine weighing in at just over six pounds each.”

Maybe all that early rush is one cause for her very busy life.

Currently she is a member of the arena board at Leaside Gardens. She is on the board of the East York Foundation and a member of Councillor Jon Burnside’s traffic committee.

She is also facilitating school admission for her church for two young refugee sisters just arrived from the Central African Republic.

Volunteering has been a big part of her life.

She started a career as a teacher, but took time away to raise four children and in her remaining  time did volunteer work.

She then went back to teaching at East York Collegiate from 1986 to 2000, taking night courses at OISE to earn a masters in educational administration.

“I graduated at age 53. It took some time with teenagers at home.”

She took a principal’s course in the late ‘90s over two summers and after amalgamation in the GTA, she became vice-principal of Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. After seven years she retired but was called back to help at four different schools, retiring for good in 2011.

How did you come to live in Leaside? I met my husband, Mel, at university and after he became a CA, we  moved to Southlea Ave. in 1969. It was close to my work and to downtown for Mel’s job. We’ve been here for 46 years.

What did you love most about teaching or being vice-principal? I love teenagers. I love their energy and enthusiasm. Some got into trouble but if I had to be firm, I was also fair. I would connect them with community workers and others who might help. It was very rewarding.

Do you hear from former students? All the time. Recently walking across the street in Yorkville, a guy in a truck honked at me. I thought we had cut him off as we were crossing, but the driver yelled out, “Hi Miss, remember me?” I didn’t. He said, “I was in your office all the time.” He told me he was now selling tires. What made me feel good was that he didn’t have to stop and honk or wave. Something happened that was electric there. There have been other connections like that.

What do you like most about volunteering? I want to be seen as someone who enjoys working with some very smart, capable volunteers who give an enormous amount of time and energy to our community. It’s not just me; there are many of us. All are very generous and I think it enriches my job as a volunteer to work with these people.

What are some things people might not know about you? Next May my sisters and I are travelling to London to attend the four-day celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday. I’m teaching my granddaughter to play the ukulele. Sarah is in grade 5 at Bessborough and we have a lot of fun playing and singing!

What’s your favourite find in Leaside? GrillTime on Laird. Andy’s after-hours food demonstrations are great. Not only is Andy a hard worker but he cares about the community by volunteering his time and energy.