Howard Birnie has been coaching baseball at Talbot Park and volunteering with the Leaside Baseball Association for more than 50 years. He has also been an umpire, not only in Leaside but also for national championship, World Junior Championship and professional games. However his primary concern has always been the LBA. During the past 40 years as its president, he has worked hard to provide a first rate environment within which two generations of Leaside boys could play baseball, doing whatever tasks needed. Howard Birnie is a Leaside institution.
Teri-Lynn Black-Calleri and her partner Mirko Savic were the Canadian Junior Ice Dance Champions in 1982. Four years later she became a coach for the Leaside Skating Club, a position she has held for 27 years during which she became a lasting influence on hundreds of young skaters. Many of them have achieved gold medal status and have excelled in competition at the provincial and national levels. Black-Calleri has been nominated to Skate Canada on numerous occasions for the Coach of the Year Award. She continually holds the Skate Canada Gold status for commitment to ongoing professional development activities.
Catherine Carpenter Lansdowne represented Ontario as a speed skater in the first Canada Winter Games in Saskatoon in 1971, winning two gold medals and a bronze. She represented Canada at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan and has spent the past 36 years as a phys-ed teacher at Leaside High School where she has coached volleyball, tennis, badminton and cross-country running, and been a significant influence on the lives of two generations of young women. Landsdowne lives in Leaside with her husband Dudley, who also taught at Leaside High, and two sons who are both accomplished hockey players.
John Child represented Canada in beach volleyball at three consecutive Olympic Games – 1996, 2000 and 2004 – winning a bronze medal in Atlanta with his partner Mark Heese, and finishing fifth in both Sydney and Athens. After retiring from competitive play he founded the Leaside Volleyball Club which now offers both competitive and recreational playing opportunities to over 500 participants each year. Child and his wife Bridget have lived in North Leaside since 1994 and have two children.
Rich Ferguson lived in Leaside and attended Leaside High School before heading to Iowa University on an athletic scholarship. At age 19 he was ranked the top junior runner in North America. Ferguson represented Canada at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and at the 1954 British Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Vancouver where he ran in the famous Miracle Mile race. Briton Roger Bannister had broken the four-minute mile barrier in England earlier that year only to be bested by his rival, Australian John Landy, just a few weeks later. Vancouver was the first time the two had run head to head. Both again broke the four-minute barrier with Rich Ferguson finishing third at 4:04.6, setting a Canadian record.
Erica Gilbert served on the board of the Leaside Tennis Club from the 1960s, including three terms as president and over 25 years as membership secretary. She was a founding member of the Toronto Ladies Tennis League, where she sat on the board for over 40 years. She organised the Tennis Canada Junior Open which attracted children from across the country. For her lifetime of work as an umpire and volunteer Gilbert was inducted into the Tennis Canada Hall of Fame in 1998 and received the Ontario Tennis Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013. She now lives in Vancouver.
Peter Mahovlich Jr. came to Leaside from Timmins with his family as an eight-year-old boy when his older brother Frank was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs and his dad, Peter Mahovlich Sr., took a job running the pro shop at Leaside arena. He played hockey there before being drafted second overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1963. His outstanding 16-year NHL career included stints in Detroit and Pittsburgh, bracketing nine seasons in Montreal as a key member of the Canadiens dynasty, winning the Stanley Cup in 1971, ’73, ’76 and ’77. He was also a member of Team Canada in the famous 1972 Summit Series. Peter Mahovlich is now a scout with the Florida Panthers.
Dr. Tom (“Doc”) Pashby was a long-time baseball coach at Trace Manes Park and hockey coach at Leaside Gardens, where he was often called upon to stitch up injured players. This experience helped inspire his interest in sports safety. He became a leading advocate for mandatory helmets and face guards and led the fight for penalties for cross-checking and other actions that could lead to back or eye injuries. His pioneering efforts to promote sports safety earned him the Order of Canada and election as a builder to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Doc Pashby lived in the same Leaside house for over 60 years until his death in 2005.
Ron Taylor played his minor sports in Leaside as a boy, including a couple of years of hockey at Leaside Gardens and baseball at Talbot Park, from the age of 8 until 17, when he was scouted and signed by the Cleveland Indians. He pitched for 11 seasons in the major leagues with Cleveland, the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, New York Mets and San Diego Padres. He was on two World Series winning teams — the 1964 Cardinals and the 1969 “Miracle” Mets — and did not allow a single hit during his seven innings pitched in four World Series relief appearances. Following his playing career he earned his medical degree and served nearly 20 years as the team physician to the Toronto Blue Jays. Dr. Ron Taylor continues to practise medicine and has lived in Leaside since 1977.
Lloyd Woods became greens director for the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club in 1970 and soon developed a reputation as the leading authority on the construction and maintenance of lawn bowling greens in Canada. He supervised the installation of many greens projects across the country, including the four-green facility built for the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia in 1994. He wrote the book on the subject, the Official’s Handbook – Bowling Green Maintenance and Management. Lloyd Woods also served a term as president of the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club in 1976. He is now retired and living in Ayr, Ontario.