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Leaside’s grilled cheese guru sweeps away cares

Stephen and Aniko in front of Millwood melt. Photo by Janis Fertuck.

Stephen and Aniko in front of Millwood melt. Photo by Janis Fertuck.

Most mornings Stephen D’Amico can be spotted sweeping in front of Millwood Melt, the grilled cheese restaurant he runs with his wife Aniko at 902 Millwood Rd. This is more than an act of tidiness, however; it is a meditative act which he picked up while working with some Mennonites on a farm near Waterloo. When he asked how they deal with stress, they said that Mennonites “take care of that with sweeping.” Stephen was so taken with this concept that now he sweeps his external surroundings while doing the same with his “inner house,” as he calls it.

This is an apt metaphor for the two different aspects of Stephen’s life: his work in the restaurant and his real vocation of being a spiritual teacher. [click to continue…]


What makes Leaside great?

Certainly, our schools, community centres, and places of worship all contribute. But the local economy is the fuel powering our neighbourhood. And that’s why we at Leaside Life encourage readers to shop locally this holiday season.

When you spend your money at home, the money generated usually stays in the community and that means more local jobs, stronger businesses and a more vibrant community for everyone. The survival and success of local economy depend on our patronage.

So this December, rather than automatically jumping in your car and driving to a mall, consider a walk over to Bayview, Laird, Millwood or Eglinton to explore and support the amazing retailers and businesses that have chosen to operate in Leaside. [click to continue…]

Leaside teens, don’t get into a Jam

Photo by: Pavel Klimenko O/S Shutterstock

Photo by: Pavel Klimenko O/S Shutterstock

For generations, kids have attended outdoor parties. Field, ravine, “bush,” and park parties are nothing new and have been popular activities for Leaside kids looking to let off a little steam. But for this generation of teens, what’s new is the size of these parties and how kids learn about them.

With the proliferation of social media sites, word about parties now spreads like wildfire. While police used to see “large” parties consisting of 50 or so teens, they note that outdoor parties have recently drawn crowds of up to 400. And with massive crowds come incidents uncommon in smaller gatherings. [click to continue…]

A young Robert Lowrey (far left) in front of the first location of Robert Lowrey Piano Experts at 322 Sutherland Drive.

A young Robert Lowrey (far left) in front of the first location of Robert Lowrey Piano Experts at 322 Sutherland Drive.

Even if you haven’t been inside, you probably know Robert Lowrey Piano Experts at the west corner of the strip just south of Eglinton, east of Brentcliffe.

This well-known piano emporium is well worth a visit. Here you’ll find a number of “affordable” pianos, made by Pearl River, Knabe and Heintzman. Pearl River, the largest manufacturer in the world, makes pianos in Indochina and China, Knabe is European, and those of us of a certain age will recognize the Heintzman name as Canadian. [click to continue…]

Alice Carriman. Photo by Lorna Krawchuk.

Alice Carriman. Photo by Lorna Krawchuk.

Leaside Garden Society members know Alice Carriman well. Any time there’s a call to help plant a garden, especially one where local schoolchildren are involved, Alice is sure to be on hand.

This is all the more interesting since Alice does not actually live in Leaside. She has lived in the same apartment in Thorncliffe Park for the last 40 years. She is originally from Carriacou, an island in the Grenadines, where she gardened under her mother’s tutelage, and was taught by both her parents to be a caring individual. [click to continue…]

Winter was more fun when we were kids

I’m a believer in the science and the reality of global warming. That’s the engineering graduate talking. But I don’t actually need reams of data, scientific symposia, and time-lapse photographs of diminished glaciers to be convinced.

My own memories of Leaside winters suffice to confirm that temperatures are rising. When I was growing up in Leaside in the late ’60s and early ’70s, we actually had winter, we had snow – lots of it – and it was a blast.

Now, my memory may not be as good as it once was but it seems to me that snow came much earlier and stayed much longer back then than it does now. I think we used have snow on the ground in early November. Not so much anymore. My twin bro and I loved it. Three winter pastimes in particular kept us happy and outside – which, I think, made our mother happy. [click to continue…]

Photo by Eric Goddard

Photo by Eric Goddard

Members of Leaside’s various sports communities joined the family and friends of the inductees and athlete of the year in the William Lea Room at the arena on Friday evening, Nov. 17, for the fifth annual induction ceremony of the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame. [click to continue…]

Sam Tehrani in his gallery

Sam Tehrani in his gallery. Photo by Sam Tehrani.

Sitting atop a stack of rugs, I had a conversation with Sam Tehrani, one of Bayview’s latest merchants to join the strip. Sam is a carpet dealer and enthusiast who runs Ghazal Rug Gallery at 1693B Bayview. As a fourth generation carpet dealer, he says almost every picture of him as a kid has a rug in it somewhere.

When he turned 7, he was truly introduced to the world of rugs. He remembers traveling around Persia, visiting villages and smaller cities with his dad, uncle and grandfather, buying from rug makers to sell to Europe. Sam came to visit almost every city in Persia by the time he was 14 years old. [click to continue…]

MacKenzie Bier’s extraordinary shoe drive

Mackenzie Bier. Photo by Linda Bier.

Mackenzie Bier. Photo by Linda Bier.

Christmas, seen as a time for giving, often brings out the best in us. In MacKenize Bier’s case, I’m reminded of the Mary Ellen Chase quote: “Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

MacKenzie Bier and her quest to provide running shoes for neighbouring kids is an inspiring story of a young person’s generous spirit, creativity and true belief in helping others. It’s an ongoing commitment that has spanned four years – her entire time at Leaside High School. [click to continue…]

LET’S TALK Turkey!

Since the holidays are just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you will feed the loved ones around your table this year. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need all the help you can get. Luckily, we have amazing retailers in Leaside who can help you make holidays easy, delicious and stress free. Who uses the words “stress free” and holidays in the same sentence? Grilltime, White House Meats and Today’s Menu – that’s who. Here you will find a handy guide to three of the most important components of your holiday dinner – turkey, stuffing, and gravy (no whisking required) (or a complete vegetarian option) – sure to please even your fussiest family and friends while making your holiday dinner a memorable one, from some of Leaside’s independent food purveyors.Since the holidays are just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you will feed the loved ones around your table this year. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need all the help you can get. Luckily, we have amazing retailers in Leaside who can help you make holidays easy, delicious and stress free. Who uses the words “stress free” and holidays in the same sentence? Grilltime, White House Meats and Today’s Menu – that’s who. Here you will find a handy guide to three of the most important components of your holiday dinner – turkey, stuffing, and gravy (no whisking required) (or a complete vegetarian option) – sure to please even your fussiest family and friends while making your holiday dinner a memorable one, from some of Leaside’s independent food purveyors. [click to continue…]

Wildcats: “You can’t be what you can’t see”

Wildcat winners!

Wildcat winners!

While this might not be the official motto of the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association (TLGHA), it’s an objective the league aspires to meet in all aspects of their organization.

With more than 1,600 girls playing hockey at the learn-to-play, house league, and competitive levels, the Leaside Wildcats’ mission is two-fold. The league focuses on both growing the love of the sport, as well as empowering girls through female leadership mentors. [click to continue…]

Reading up on Leaside’s lawn libraries

Sometimes the simplest ideas create the biggest ripples. Who’d have thought a free, mini lawn library would have our Mayor weighing in on its value? Yet that’s exactly what happened this fall when John Tory tweeted his support of the Little Free Libraries after an overzealous Toronto bylaw officer ticketed an owner whose structure was closer than 3.5 metres from the sidewalk.

The lawn library movement got its start in 2009 when Todd Bol of Wisconsin built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbours loved it, so he built more and gave them away.

The movement took root in Leaside in 2013 and today the Little Frees number 11 on streets in both North and South Leaside. We took a read of some of them:

36 DONLEA DR. This Swiss-inspired lawn library was “modelled after a birdhouse my now adult son Blair made when he was in Grade 3 at Northlea PS,” Barbara Mason told me. “It was a family project with three generations contributing. We wanted a homey whimsical feel so it would appeal to kids, so initially we stocked it with many children’s classics such as Stuart Little. When we noticed many adults visiting, we broadened our offerings and now the library visitors keep it well stocked with a wide variety of books.” [click to continue…]

Welcoming the holiday season at our schools

In December, Toronto stores are filled with music, bright lights decorate homes, and our schools welcome the holiday season…Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. We get ready to bid goodbye to 2017 and greet 2018.

The TDSB embraces children from around the world, and although our school board is a secular system, it is open to teaching about different religions and ways of life. When I went to school we didn’t recognize the customs and beliefs of new immigrants; we primarily celebrated Christian holidays. Today is a different world. We want to prepare our youth for their reality. [click to continue…]

Zhen is in Grade 11 at Leaside High

Zhen is in Grade 11 at Leaside High

At a young age I had my future planned out. I was going to become a professional ballerina and dance the coveting role of the sugar plum fairy with the amazing National Ballet of Canada. I did end up dancing in the Nutcracker but as years passed the reality of becoming a ballerina started to fade. I then moved onto my backup career of marine biologist, inspired by the plight of the many endangered sea animals.

I got busy doing my research and planning courses until I realized that working in the hot sun surrounded by salt water wasn’t great for my extremely dry skin. Another career choice that became more and more unlikely. [click to continue…]

Leaside High School will mark its 75th anniversary in the third week of October, 2020. To make plans for the momentous occasion, a group of LHS alumni gathered at the Leaside Pub recently to reestablish the alumni association and brainstorm ideas for celebrating.

The newly constituted reunion executive hopes to model events on the highly successful 50th anniversary, which included activities at the school, Massey Hall and the Metro Convention Centre.

Communications coordinator Elaine LeBlanc is enthusiastic about #75 even though it seems far off. “We hope to involve many

LHS alumni who will volunteer their time and energy to ensure a successful anniversary,” she said. The group plans to meet monthly.

Alumni association president Larry Hurd is encouraging interested graduates to join him on the popular Leaside Chit Chat Facebook page where updates will be posted regularly.

The alumni website will launch soon at www.leasidehighschool.com, and a link to the alumni website is also at http://schools.tdsb.on.ca/leasidehigh. In the meantime, those who wish to get involved or join the reunion list should contact: alumni@leasidehighschool.com.

Stay tuned for more updates. Mark your calendars!

Letters – December 2017

Planning decisions should be made locally

According to Geoff Kettel’s article in last month’s Leaside Life, the recently established Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB), which now hears appeals from decisions of the Committee of Adjustment, is proving to be just as unfriendly to residents as the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) it replaced.

While Committee of Adjustment decisions are now appealed to this new TLAB, appeals from all other planning decisions continue to be heard, for the present at least, by the OMB. However, fear not. According to Premier Kathleen Wynne, that will soon change as well. “Planning decisions have to be made locally,” she wrote to us recently. To accomplish that, the Ontario government plans to give the new TLAB the authority to hear all other planning appeals now heard by the OMB. This change, the province says, will provide a faster, fairer, more affordable and friendly process for residents who want to appeal planning decisions. [click to continue…]

Little did we know the Eglinton LRT was going to have such a big impact in Leaside. We should prepare ourselves to see the highest population growth since the incorporation of the town back in 1913. The development of the town of Leaside took over 40 years, as there were many different circumstances that negatively affected it. Now, the single LRT under construction is set to catapult Leaside’s growth to records never seen before. With the addition of just seven projects, the number of new condos in mid-rise buildings will reach 4,021 units, surpassing the number of detached houses in the Leaside-Bennington area of 3,625 dwellings. The shocking aspect is that this could only take a couple of years as typically the lifecycle of a condo project is five years from launch; by 2022 we will see the first large projects reach completion.

The perimeter of the neighbourhood has given up to the pressure of the City of Toronto intensification plan, and Southvale now has two 7-storey boutique buildings, Leaside Manors with 67 units and Upper House with 74 condos on the go, this last one slated for completion in 2018. An interesting project comprising a historical Neo Gothic building built in 1928 will be part of the mixed use at 146-150 Laird Dr. that will have 179 rental retirement suites and 109 seniors condos. Because of the height restrictions in this area, these three buildings will have a lower impact to the surroundings, though shadows to the west and north side will affect the houses nearby. [click to continue…]

Bitcoin scam snags Leasiders

Two prominent Leaside residents and businesspeople, Patrick Rocca of Bosley Real Estate & Andy Elder, owner of Grilltime on Laird, have recently been the target of an internet extortion attack. Both men have received numerous threatening emails from an unknown source, identified only as Anonymous. The emails demand a payment of $250,000 in the form of bitcoins. (Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency used primarily as a digital payment system.) The scammers suggest that if their demands are not met, they will use a number of means to damage the reputations of both men and their families. Both men, although greatly concerned about the attack, were even more deeply troubled when the reputation of their family was also threatened. Neither has complied with the demands of the extortionist. Rocca and Elder are both widely known within Leaside and beyond to be generous community supporters. They are encouraging any others who may be victims of the same scheme to come forward and contact police at 53 Division.

LPOA: news: Leaside’s newest hotspot

The sounds of screeching brakes, car horns, and occasional ambulance sirens during rush hours are the all-too frequent scene these days at the intersection of Bayview Ave. and Parkhurst Blvd., Leaside’s newest accident hot spot.

This been an increasingly fraught intersection for some time, and it’s getting worse. Drivers try to avoid the LRT construction along Eglinton by using Parkhurst. They cut straight across or block Bayview’s north- and southbound traffic lanes to drive westward into Soudan (or, vice-versa, eastward along Soudan onto Parkhurst). Other drivers attempt left turns despite limited visibility of oncoming Bayview traffic; still others try to jockey into the only northbound lane on Bayview, around parked cars.

To add to the chaos, a badly-located pedestrian-crossing at the Bayview and Parkhurst/Soudan intersection further complicates the scene. Trying to negotiate your way on foot or bicycle is not for the faint-hearted. [click to continue…]

Her Dark Path Cover“She knew she was being unfair, and she felt guilty. What kind of person was she turning into? Until today she had never imposed on anyone’s goodwill in this way, and she was horrified at herself. But she had to have the McBride case, so similar to her mother’s tragic murder sixteen years ago. Cartwright should know this. She’d told him about her mission in life, her vow to someday catch the perp. But she also feared that he might demand a price she wasn’t willing to pay.”

What does a person do after retiring from a life-long career focused on protecting the environment?

How about write a mystery novel? That’s exactly what Leasider Ken Ogilvie decided to do following a successful 30-year career in the environmental field. Ogilvie’s career included almost 15 years as the executive director of Pollution Probe. [click to continue…]

My love letter to Bayview

De la mer fish market. Photo By Robin Dickie.

Photo By Robin Dickie

As we enter the holiday homestretch, I thought it would be nice to finish the year identifying things I love about Bayview from a business perspective.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 things I love about Bayview:

Boutique La Muse

I first wrote about Sarah Barr’s new women’s clothing store in July. At the time she was working 15 hours a day hopeful business would remain brisk so she could hire additional staff and cut back on her draining schedule. Since then, I’ve been in several times with my wife and each time the store’s been filled with shoppers and staff, a sign that Leasiders are supporting one of the newest entrants to the Bayview fashion scene. [click to continue…]

Revisiting Leaside’s tree protection

Scrap on Donegall

Tree Protection?

Just over one year ago (November 2016) this column addressed street trees, and whether existing protections are adequate, based on experience of a demolition and redevelopment on Airdrie Rd. But interior (private) trees on the same or adjacent lots may need protection as well. Has the City increased tree protection efforts?

A recent case is 35 Donegall Dr., where the owner of the property behind the dwelling being demolished (on MacNaughton) has a large black walnut tree that falls under tree protection bylaws. After demolition of the house and garage at 35 Donegall the contractor piled materials in the tree protection zone, and the tree protection fence was knocked down. A few phone calls later and an inspector arrived to have the protection zone reinstated. End of story? [click to continue…]