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A free meal led to a life of running

Robert Moore leading the pack at an Ontario Masters Athletics race at the Toronto Track & Field Centre, York University.  In third place is the legendary Ed Whitlock, a long-time friend of Bob Moore’s, who died in March 2017. Photo by Doug "Shaggy" Smith.

Robert Moore leading the pack at an Ontario Masters Athletics race at the Toronto Track & Field Centre, York University. In third place is the legendary Ed Whitlock, a long-time friend of Bob Moore’s, who died in March 2017. Photo by Doug “Shaggy” Smith.

Have you spotted a runner in Leaside wearing a bright yellow singlet, often with a briefcase or a bag of groceries in his hand?

It’s been a familiar sighting on our local streets and trails for more than four decades. This is Robert Moore of Sutherland Dr., once one of Canada’s top distance runners and still racing competitively at age 77.

Moore was born in England in 1940 and grew up near the village of Huddersfield in Yorkshire. “Our hill farm was a 3K walk from my school and there was always work to be done on the farm – so as a boy I had no time for games.”

Only when he went away to university – to Leeds, where he earned a doctorate in biochemistry – did Moore begin running seriously. “I saw an ad on campus offering a free meal in exchange for writing down bib numbers and times at the finish line of cross-country races. Eventually I started training too and within a year I was on the first team.” [click to continue…]

George and the Premier. Photo by Daniel Girard.

George and the Premier. Photo by Daniel Girard.

George Turrell has never been one to keep things quiet.

For more than 50 years, he has stalked the halls of Leaside Memorial Gardens Arena, his voice a commanding presence to thousands of hockey players and skaters – and their parents – who learn from the first time they walk through the doors who runs the place. His cantankerous façade initially masking an enormous heart and an affection for kids whom he welcomes with a patented “here comes trouble!”

So, it’s only fitting that when it was decided George – as everyone refers to him – should be given his due, it wouldn’t be done quietly. Instead, the event was big, bold and boisterous, just like him. [click to continue…]

Traffic woes at Rolph Road School

Principal Michael Kennedy

Principal Michael Kennedy

Most mornings between 8:25 and 8:45, parents dropping off their children at Rolph Road Elementary School will see a man dressed in an orange safety vest directing the busy traffic in front of the school. This man is the principal of the school, Michael Kennedy, and he is there to monitor the morning traffic situation.

Over the years, a problem has developed at drop-off and pickup times with parents anxious to get as close to the school as possible before dropping off their children. This has led to a situation where parents park illegally on the side of the road in front of the school, double-park or even stop in the middle of the street. While many do use the opposite side of the street where parking is legal, they sometimes park for a few minutes to chat with other parents, further limiting available drop-off spots and adding to traffic woes. All of this congestion creates what Mr. Kennedy calls “an unsafe drop-off area and a concern about potential injuries.” [click to continue…]

Leaside’s mailboxes – missing by moonlight

Very odd. You go to Mac’s Milk at Millwood and Randolph, with the intention of buying milk and posting a letter at one stop. But where is the mailbox? Gone. As is the one in front of The Leaside Pub on Laird – so too the one at the corner of Hanna and Sutherland by the #88 bus stop. And others, too, possibly? Hard to say when there is nothing there anymore.

Here is Robert Fripp’s letter to Canada Post:

“Remember this? It used to be called a mailbox. There were quite a few around in the olden days. That was before they went missing by moonlight. One local witness states that he was taking a breath of fresh air after dark on a recent evening when a truck pulled up, two pixies jumped out and carried off the mailbox on his corner. Leaside has been relieved of its mailboxes, by night. Not a word was whispered about this to the wisest among us, apparently. They, the mailboxes, just disappeared.” [click to continue…]

The City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department held a public information session at Trace Manes Community Centre on Monday, March 27, to discuss their plans for improving Trace Manes Park, and, as their announcement stated, to develop “a shared vision for park enhancement” with the community.

Neighbourhood residents were able to examine several conceptual drawings of the proposed changes to the playground area of the park, and to discuss them with Jillian Walsh, Georgia’s mother; Rich McAvan, a landscape architect from Harrington McAvan Ltd., and Councillor Jon Burnside. Several members of the Parks Department were also on hand to discuss the project, answer questions and hear feedback from the residents in an informal discussion format. [click to continue…]

The Minor Peewee Flames

The Minor Peewee Flames

There are many ties that bind a community such as Leaside together and one of the strongest is most certainly hockey. There are also many ways to measure success for any team – the lifelong friendships and memories created, the poise with which a team represent themselves and their community, the unique joy one gains from shared experience of winning and losing together. By any measure the Leaside Flames 2005 Minor Peewee (MPW) A and the 2001 Minor Midget (MM) A teams exemplify this and so much more. This past season, these two exceptional teams have, as they say “won it all,” with both teams capturing the GTHL Kraft Cup, the East Division Championship, the GTHL City Championship and the “A” GTA Championships. [click to continue…]

Flowers in the snow


“I did then what I knew
how to do. Now that I know
better, I do better.”

Maya Angelou



Ah springtime!

No other season stirs my imagination with such hope and anticipation. Each day brings fresh sights and sounds as one after another, plants wake up from their long deep sleep to greet us. From the early bursts of tiny bulbs to the explosion of flowering trees and shrubs, spring can open your heart and make you smile. With so many stars, it’s hard to pick a favourite and with so many to mention, it’s pointless because a spring awakening is a celebration of blooms…all the blooms, when every colour appears cleaner and brighter with the new angle of the sun. [click to continue…]

Author Terry Fallis. Photo By Tim Fallis.

Author Terry Fallis. Photo By Tim Fallis.

When I grew up in Leaside in the ’60s and ’70s, I was never what you would describe as a “bad kid.” In fact, the rougher boys in our Bessborough School class would have put my twin brother Tim and me squarely in the goody-goody-two-shoes category. But one day on our morning walk to school, we busted out and took a walk on the wild side. Here’s how it all went down.

As we often did, Tim and I were walking with our good friend from down the street, Mathew Zaleski. We all lived around Parkhurst and Donegall, so our route to school took us along Parkhurst, down Cameron, and then left on Sharon to the school. Halfway down Cameron, I picked up a Macintosh apple with a bite out of it that was lying in the gutter. I don’t know why I picked up a partly-eaten mushy apple. I wasn’t hungry. My brother pointed and said, “I dare you to throw it at that door.” [click to continue…]

Karli learns the ropes from instructor Natalie

Karli learns the ropes from instructor Natalie. Photo By Jen Georgopollos.

You never know what people get up to in their free time. Your quiet, geeky co-worker could be in a neo-punk-grunge band; your auntie could be mixing it up with whizzes in a chess club…or your Facebook friend could be training for the circus. Aerial aerobics to be exact, which has become something of a trend in The Six.

My free time usually involves kickboxing classes or tucking into a good book, but this time, I traded my wraps and gloves for trapeze bars and silks at the Toronto Circus Centre in Leaside. I never studied gymnastics before, so acrobatics under the big top was going to be interesting.

Founder of the Toronto Circus Centre, Jen Georgopoulos, is a former competitive gymnast and a professional circus artist with decades of children’s programming in her back pocket. Jen owned and operated another Toronto circus school for a decade before opening a new school here in January 2017. “I wanted to be in a neighbourhood, and Leaside seemed like a really great neighbourhood,” she said. [click to continue…]

Flying high at Toronto Circus Centre

If you’ve always wanted to run away and join the circus, it’s just become a little easier for M4Gers now that the Toronto Circus Centre has taken up residence in Leaside United Church’s beautiful gym. I attended a few toddler concerts back in the day in that space, so with images of Cirque du Soleil running through my head, I went to check out what the new circus school in the neighbourhood was all about.

Toronto Circus Centre is owned and operated by the super charming Jen Georgopoulos. Jen is a professional gymnast, stunt acrobat and circus artist whose career spans more than 25 years. [click to continue…]

Leaside army officer commands honour guard at Vimy 100th

Kathleen and Martin at Vimy

Kathleen and Martin at Vimy

Our Leaside family made the pilgrimage to France to be part of the historic Vimy 100th anniversary commemoration honouring the sacrifices of Canadians in our most significant military victory. For us, it was also to honour our intimate family connection with modern-day service. Our son, Captain Roland Llewellyn-Thomas, a member of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and 2006 Leaside High School graduate, served as an Honour Guard Commander during the ceremonies.

As a member of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, a militia unit which helped form the Canadian Expeditionary Force of 1914, Roland feels a deep connection to the young men who went over the top at Vimy Ridge; the majority of them were not professional soldiers at the outbreak of the war in 1914. A long-time Leaside Flames Hockey team defenceman and member of the 2006 Leaside High graduating class, Roland joined the Royal Canadian Regiment as a private soldier soon after graduation, deploying to Afghanistan in 2008, thereby carrying on the Leaside tradition of service that began more than 100 years ago with men like Wilfrid Heighington and Alex Adamson. [click to continue…]

Experiencing Vimy

Leaside High students at Vimy

Leaside High students at Vimy

Leaside High school history teacher Caralin Fleet accompanied some of her students to the Vimy 100th memorial celebration on April 9. Here are some of their thoughts:

Weadee MomboWeadee Mombo

Since there are no remaining soldiers from the First World War, it so important that Canadian youth remember what took place at Vimy. The men who fought that day, both anglophone and francophone alike, came together with pride and united a nation. If we could all come together as they did 100 years ago, we would accomplish things we never could divided.


[click to continue…]

The Magic of the Vimy Memorial

Mitch Bubulj's grandfather in France

Mitch Bubulj’s grandfather in France

Attending the 100th anniversary ceremony of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on the 9th of April, I felt all of Canada was with me on that wind-swept northern French hill. I was there with my student group of 40 who helped make up the youth contingent of over 25,000. Some were fifth generation Canadians while others were children of refugees or else refugees themselves, but all of them felt instantly connected to the monument, the battle and Canada. The reason is clear: it is the magic of the marble masterpiece unveiled in 1936 and conceived and ultimately realized by Toronto sculptor Walter Allward.

Allward, a graduate of Central Technical School, won the competition to remember the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It was a four-day “slaughter” in which all four divisions of Canadian soldiers under the command of a Canadian general, Arthur Currie, were victorious against the occupying Germans. The battle was won, however, at a huge cost of more than 3,000 dead and thousands wounded, including my maternal grandfather, who was 18 at the time and who received shrapnel wounds to the leg. [click to continue…]

More density at our doorstep

What may have seemed like a good idea to some and benign to others has, in my opinion, brought undesirable consequences to the community. I’m talking about the lobbying effort that resulted in Metrolinx adding a stop at Leslie St. on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Metrolinx’s original plan had the LRT running underground to just east of Don Mills Rd. with a station at Leslie St., but in 2013 the plan was revised and the station eliminated due to the projected cost of $80 to $100 million.

Residents at the Inn on the Park condos as well as others in the surrounding neighbourhoods lobbied both Metrolinx and the Ontario government to retain it. The agreed compromise was to have the LRT exit to street level just east of Brentcliffe Rd. so that an at-grade stop – at the lower cost of about $10 million – could be built at Leslie St. [click to continue…]

Leaside, how does your traffic flow?

Thank you to the almost 600 of you who returned the LPOA’s traffic survey questionnaires, many accompanied by lengthy and detailed additional comments and suggestions. Here are some key findings:

Everyone agreed that police enforcement of signage and speed limits is rare, where it happens at all. Drivers know this. Secure in the knowledge that there isn’t a police cruiser lurking around the corner waiting to ticket them, they ignore stop signs and turn restrictions. The measures which the LPOA plan put forward are therefore physical in nature, which do not require frequent police monitoring.

#1 Heavy traffic volumes are clearly your number one concern. Every street, traditionally quiet or busy, is now sharing the pain from exponentially increased through traffic. Leasiders realize that it’s not just LRT construction causing high car volumes and congestion; it’s also a byproduct of increased condominium and retail development in the city. [click to continue…]

In Leaside “below grade” is not what you think

Houses of Leaside“In Leaside when you look down the street you see driveway entrances of consistent grade, and when you stand in front of the house the dominant feature is the front entrance and the living room, not the garage. We wanted to retain this character.”

This was how Jane Pitfield explained her reasons for championing a new bylaw in 2000 to prohibit below finished grade garages in Leaside, when she was Leaside’s councillor in the recently amalgamated City of Toronto. She was testifying at a recent Ontario Municipal Board hearing on an LPOA appeal of the Committee of Adjustment’s decision to approve a below finished grade garage at 314 Rumsey Rd. (despite the staff report that recommended against). [click to continue…]

The Chiu Family

The Chiu Family

Noodles and rice with fragrant sauces, Chinese style…my ‘go to’ comfort foods. Must have something to do with my Chinese heritage. So imagine my excitement when the marquee, ‘Tao, northern Chinese cuisine’, went up at the former Leonard’s location at Parklea and Laird.

Eager to try Tao’s food, I could not wait for my friends. I invited members of my multi-generational household. My son and daughter-in-law, whose tastes have been influenced by the multi-ethnic diversity of our city, were quick to accept. Their two pre-school daughters, familiar with a healthy mix of diverse foods, would test for ‘family-friendliness’. [click to continue…]

Many paths to education

Exclusion, Integration, Separation and InclusionNot all students follow a similar path in school. Students who have behavioural, communication, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities may require special education programs and/or services to benefit fully from their school experience.

Special education programs and services consist primarily of instruction and assessments different from those provided to the general student population. These may take the form of accommodation (such as specific teaching strategies, preferential seating, and assistive technology) and/or an educational program that is modified from the age-appropriate grade level expectations in a particular course or subject, as outlined in the Ministry of Education curriculum. [click to continue…]

The Spiral Garden: An oasis in Leaside

Holland Bloorview’s Spiral Garden staff artists (l-r), Thiago, Lynn and Marek share the Music Circle with participants Kate and Zach.

Holland Bloorview’s Spiral Garden staff artists (l-r), Thiago, Lynn and Marek share the Music Circle with participants Kate and Zach. Photo by Robyn Cox.

There are many different kinds of summer camp, but a unique camp experience can be found right in North Leaside at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, the largest children’s rehabilitation hospital in Canada, and a global leader in applied research, teaching and family-centred care. [click to continue…]

Vimy MemorialApril 9, 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This battle forged Canada’s path towards true independence and paved the way to an Allied victory in the War. In the March issue of Leaside Life, Allan Williams shared with our readers the very personal connection of Leasider Drew Hamblin to Vimy. We also called on Leasiders to share their own stories about Vimy. We were moved by the many stories we received. In this issue, we are proud to share some of them with you.

I was so pleased to see the article about Drew Hamblin and his connection to Vimy Ridge in last month’s issue. I too, have a personal connection, as my grandfather, Wilfrid Heighington, served at Vimy. [click to continue…]

Hilary & Billy - Salon Ten Ten

Hilary & Billy

It’s always exciting when a new business opens in Leaside. You might have noticed that the southeast corner of Sutherland and McRae is now the home of Salon Ten Ten. This business might be new to the neighbourhood, but owners Hilary Comiskey and her boyfriend Billy Tsopotos are certainly no strangers to the area. Hilary is a third generation Leasider. Her grandmother (86 and going strong) grew up on Bessborough and is still very active in the congregation at St. Anselm’s Church. Hilary grew up on Bessborough and her parents still live in her childhood home. Billy grew up close by in East York. So it seems it was a natural choice for the young couple to open their first salon together in a neighbourhood and community that feels so much like home. [click to continue…]

Premier Wynne congratulates Aili Kukkonen.

Premier Wynne congratulates Aili Kukkonen. Photo by Gary Toporoski

Last month, Leaside Life reported on a visit by Premier Kathleen Wynne to three residents of Suomi-Koti, the Finnish-Canadian Seniors Centre on Eglinton, to celebrate their upcoming centenary birthdays. The Premier presented each woman with a framed certificate to mark this milestone, and took time to chat with them about their long and rewarding lives. [click to continue…]

Lesley Skelly

Lesley Skelly

Kit Skelly was just 23 when his life ended four years ago by suicide. His parents, Lesley and Dave, as well as his brother and sister, have been on a huge learning curve since then, finding ways to live with this loss.

Lesley has been involved in her community her whole life. Following in the footsteps of her community-minded mother, Lesley started volunteering by leading a Girl Guide unit when she was 22 years old. She’s still active as the leader of the Guiding group meeting at the Church of St. Augustine on Bayview. You might have seen Facebook postings from her looking for umpteen bottles of nail polish for a craft, for instance, or ideas for a special international evening for her girls. A few of her posts were about spending two weeks last summer in Alberta in the pouring rain as one of the leaders at a huge international Girl Guide camp. Keep an eye out – it’s getting to be Girl Guide cookie season, and Lesley is always selling! [click to continue…]

Leasiders’ basements – all clogged up with nowhere to go

If you’ve never experienced a flooded basement, I can tell you that it ranks high on the list of a home owner’s worst nightmare. Messy, stressful, costly and very inconvenient!

My first home in Leaside was a small semi-detached with an unfinished basement. There was a drain cover in the middle of the concrete floor, which I didn’t give much thought to, until I went down to do some laundry one morning and noticed a foul odour accompanied by a small lake of nasty looking stuff pooled around it. Panicked, I put on my rubber boots and gloves, got out my mop and bucket, called a local plumber who thankfully arrived quickly with his drain snake in hand and the problem was quickly solved. Wanting to avoid any future floods, I asked him to explain how Leaside’s sewer systems worked and give me some tips about keeping my drains clean and flowing. . . . [click to continue…]

RoarockitAnyone stopping at the light on Millwood at Sutherland knows the corner property with the huge plate glass window. Long-time Leasiders may have known it originally as an auto supply shop, and then the location for hairdresser Elsa and husband Frank, with their house attached next door on Sutherland.

But now a decidedly different business has rolled in and turned Millwood and Sutherland into perhaps the coolest corner in Leaside. Meet Ted Hunter and Norah Jackson of Roarockit. [click to continue…]