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Leaside Life: The first five years

For our first issue of the New Year, it’s an honour to feature some of the faces of Leaside – people who have graced our pages over the past five years. We have been privileged to share the stories of some truly remarkable people. The photos you see here represent just a sample of those whose lives have touched Leaside in some way. We look forward to celebrating even more stories – and Leaside personalities – in the years to come. [click to continue…]

Put your double-double in the trash-trash

Double double littered in the snowOut for my morning litter walk I came across several discarded Tim Hortons disposable coffee cups.

Tim Hortons boasts a strong presence in Leaside, where there are five TH locations: three freestanding, one inside an Esso station, and one inside the Holland Bloorview Centre. We love having Tims in the community. The discarded coffee cups? Not so much!

The only positive thing I can say is that the seasonal graphics made this litter look cheery. It got me thinking. What would the famous number 7 Toronto Maple Leaf, Tim Horton, who died in a tragic car accident in 1973, think about the mountains of litter the doughnut shops he founded create every year? [click to continue…]


Henry WicksteedMany streets in Leaside were named for those involved with the building of the railways.

When Frederick Todd laid out the model town of Leaside, he named streets for those working with the Canadian Northern Railway. One of these was Henry King Wicksteed, who worked for more than a decade as chief locality engineer for the Canadian Northern Railway Ontario, the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway companies.

Henry Wicksteed was born (in 1855) and raised in Quebec before working as a locality engineer for many railway companies around the world – in South America and across Canada from 1904 to 1914. Henry’s career began with preparing a route for the James Bay Railway, from Parry Sound to Sudbury in Northern Ontario. In Eastern Canada, he helped with the establishment of railways in Montreal and Quebec City. He was also the first to use airplanes for photographic surveys for lands. [click to continue…]

Letters – January 2017

MoonbowMoonbows over Leaside

Beautiful article. A lot of the moonbows seen in Google images are caused by water droplets typically found in tropical climates. The halo around the moon in colder climates has earned the name moondog (or moon dog), named after the more common sun dog. Unlike most astronomy events, this is definitely visible within the city lights!

Steve Nastos via Facebook [click to continue…]

Audrey Tobias, 1924-2016

Your memory might be jogged into recalling the 2013 court case involving an 89-year-old peace activist who refused to complete the 2011 census because it was processed using software from the U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin.

That was Audrey Tobias. It is a good thing she was acquitted, as she vowed that if found guilty, she would not pay a fine or do community service hours, but would serve jail time to make her point.

Her social justice credentials were on display throughout her adult life.

In 2000, Audrey was the recipient of the Agnes Macphail Award, presented for her many years of social justice activities. And Audrey always insisted that the correct word was “recipient,” not “winner”. [click to continue…]

Calling all nominees!

The East York Agnes Macphail Recognition Committee seeks nominations for the 24th annual Agnes Macphail Award.

Agnes Campbell Macphail (1890-1954) was the first woman elected to the House of Commons (1921) and the first seated in the Ontario Legislature (1943). During her years in office, Agnes Macphail focused on issues of equality rights and social justice.

Each nominee must be a resident of the former Borough of East York and an outstanding volunteer leader in community life in areas including, but not limited to: women’s rights, fairness to seniors, criminal justice and penal reform, international peace and disarmament, and to adequate housing, health care and education. Nomination forms are available in public buildings in East York. The deadline for nominations is midnight, Thursday, January 26, 2017. [click to continue…]

The Raftis family - Brandon, Jordan, Shelly, Joe, Kylee and Scooby

The Raftis family – Brandon, Jordan, Shelly, Joe, Kylee and Scooby. Photo by Daniel Girard

On their second date, Shelly was determined to see if Joe Raftis had any athletic ability, so she booked an outside court at her tennis club, far away from anyone she knew, and they whacked around the ball.

Joe “did okay” on the court that day in the summer of 1995, she says. They were married in 1998.

“I was determined that I wasn’t going to date someone who wasn’t athletic,” Shelly Raftis recalls with a laugh. “In hindsight, that really bit me in the butt.” [click to continue…]

LOL 2016 Committee : Mary Holmes, Selby Copeland, Charlene Kalia and Lara Neal

LOL 2016 Committee : Mary Holmes, Selby Copeland, Charlene Kalia and Lara Neal

Eight years ago Charlene Kalia started the Laugh Out Loud in Leaside fundraiser to help bring awareness to the Leaside Gardens board of management’s initiative to build a second ice pad. After four years of arena fundraising and continued community encouragement, Kalia decided to keep the annual event going to raise money and awareness for different charities each year.

This year’s LOL in Leaside event, on Friday, February 24, 2017, 7-11 p.m., at the Leaside Memorial Gardens William Lea Room, will aid the Maddie Project, which supports child and adolescent mental health services at North York General Hospital’s Phillips House, home of Maddie’s Healing Garden. LOL will feature comedic talent courtesy of Yuk Yuks, live music, drinks and a silent and live auction. [click to continue…]

Bridge Cards

Photo by Karli Vezina

Card games have never been my strong suit. Outside of Uno, I’m most comfortable around basic games like Go Fish or better yet, board games. In my mind, playing bridge was equivalent to the ancient Chinese art of Mahjong – a game of skill passed down through generations, a true battle of superior mental strength. That intimidation aside, I’d always been curious about the game of bridge, and thanks to the Leaside Bridge Club, I had my chance to watch the pros in action…and maybe try my hand.

There are several types of bridge, but Contract Bridge has remained the dominant form since the 1920s. Duplicate Contract Bridge is a variation where the same cards are played at more than one table, used for competition and tournament style games. It was Duplicate Contract Bridge that I was to learn about on this newest adventure in Leaside.

I arrived early to the Seniors Room of the Trace Manes Community Centre in search of Lauriette D’Souza, president of the Leaside Bridge Club. D’Souza had graciously agreed to be my mentor for the evening, at the risk of losing points because of distractions by yours truly. I had studied the rules of bridge, but learning on your own can only take you so far. Eventually you need to sit in on a game to see how the rules apply. [click to continue…]

Last New Year I made two resolutions: One was to perfect my forward bend in pilates, and the other was to drink more water. It’s now 12 months later, and while my forward bend isn’t perfect, it’s come a very long way and I definitely drink more water daily. I set two realistic goals for myself and I feel good that I was able to work at them all year, and that’s what I think the definition of a healthy resolution is: something achievable. We have a wealth of resources here in Leaside to put you on your own path to health & wellness for 2017. So it’s time to put down the shortbread and hit the gym, the mat, or just get outside for a stroll along our gorgeous tree-lined streets. [click to continue…]

It’s January, the decorations are back in the closet for another year, and we’ve consumed all the shortbread and egg nog we possibly can.

Now it’s time to get serious about those New Year’s resolutions. You know, the ones where you are going to (fill in the blank): quit smoking, lose weight, drink more water, train for a marathon, find the perfect job, join the local ashram and trek to Nepal….

Leaside Life is very pleased to take you along for the journey of two of our neighbours as they follow their resolution to seek improved health and wellness and lasting changes in their lives long into the New Year and beyond. [click to continue…]


Melissa Starkey, with her friend, tried Satay on the Road to see how it measured up to the food she ate in Bangkok

Melissa Starkey, with her friend, tried Satay on the Road to see how it measured up to the food she ate in Bangkok

The weather has turned cold, and snow is already piling up on the roads and the sidewalks.

It’s hard for me to remember that just a few weeks ago I was roaming the bustling streets of Bangkok, watching the lanterns drift into the night sky in Chiang Mai, and then swimming in the Andaman Sea in an attempt to beat the stifling heat.

Good food with a good friend on a Monday night seemed like the perfect opportunity to sit back and take a moment to relax and enjoy. To help remind me of my recent travels, we chose a Thai restaurant in the neighbourhood – Satay on the Road. [click to continue…]

parkhurst_webNew traffic rules went into effect in early December at the intersection of Bayview Ave. and Parkhurst Blvd./Soudan Ave. Motorists heading east or west are now prohibited from crossing Bayview between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m., Monday to Friday. During those same hours, motorists are also prohibited from turning left onto Bayview; right turns are still allowed at any time, seven days a week.

The intersection and crosswalk is a neighbourhood hot spot for fender benders and pedestrian accidents. In 2013, according to police data, there were two collisions, four in 2014, and eight in 2015. As a result of the increasing frequency of these accidents, Councillor Burnside asked the city’s Transportation Services department to conduct a safety review of the intersection. [click to continue…]

Gemma and Anna Postill. Photo by Janis Fertuck

Gemma and Anna Postill. Photo by Janis Fertuck

During Leaside High School’s recent Parent-Teacher Interview Sessions in November, sisters Gemma and Anna Postill set up a booth to sell their handcrafted jewellery line called Be The Vibe Jewellery. But it wasn’t all about selling bling. The siblings raised more than $500 for their charity Compassion Canada.

These enterprising and creative young women first became familiar with Compassion Canada when Gemma, now 17, attended a conference two and a half years ago and decided to sponsor a child through that organization. They were also inspired by their volunteer work during their summer holidays.

Last year, Anna, now 16, travelled to Ecuador and the Amazon rainforest where she helped to build a school. This trip was organized by a “Me to We” club in the school they used to attend in Halifax. While she was there, Anna was struck by the fact that the volunteers were given bottled water, but the residents used the local supply, and questioned the discrepancy in the quality of water for the volunteers and residents. She believed that if the volunteers could not drink the water, neither should the residents. Anna also took part in the Yale Global Scholars Conference where she worked on a group project to develop a solution to global problems such as sustaining a supply of safe drinking water in developing countries. [click to continue…]

Martha McCabeLeaside’s own Martha McCabe is a true Olympian.

Not only has she competed in swimming at two Olympic Games, London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but she is also a veteran of many other international swimming competitions and was recognized as Leaside’s first Athlete of the Year in 2013.

After Rio, she retired from breaststroke competition and, leaving her coach and years of training in Vancouver behind, launched into a cross-Canada tour from which she returned in mid-November. Martha conducted clinics and gave motivational speeches across the country, ending with one at the annual awards banquet for Central Toronto Athletic Club on Friday, Nov. 18. [click to continue…]

The Rev. Lee-Ann Ahlstrom and Marnie Phoenix at Northlea United Church – helping to discern what the church will look like in the future.

The Rev. Lee-Ann Ahlstrom and Marnie Phoenix at Northlea United Church – helping to discern what the church will look like in the future.

The post-war period of the late 1940s and ’50s was a time of great optimism and rapid expansion in many areas of Canadian life. Churches were no exception.

North Leaside, which had been developed more recently than the older neighbourhood south of Eglinton Ave., was poised and ready to participate in the boom. As we said in our November issue, St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church began a “mission” in Northlea School in 1949 that soon became the separate parish of St. Augustine. The United Church of Canada followed a parallel course at almost exactly the same time. According to Jane Pitfield’s book, “Leaside,” a preliminary meeting was held in a private home in December 1948 and services began at Northlea School in September 1949. [click to continue…]

For artist Gaël Patino Leaside is his muse

Gaël Patino ArtPatino fell in love with Leaside the moment he discovered it.

“I arrived from Montreal two years ago to find a new adventure and get inspired,” the 27-year-old artist says. “I went around to a lot of areas in Toronto looking for an apartment, but as soon as I found Leaside I was charmed immediately. I just got good vibes and this peaceful feeling about the area. Maybe it’s all the trees and green spaces like the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.”

Patino settled on an apartment on Bayview Ave. He works at a bank to support himself and his art. The artist loves to walk in the cemetery where he relaxes, enjoys the natural surroundings and gets inspiration for his creations. Through a combination of painting, digital sculptures and photography his works are intended to portray the emotions and spiritual forces that exist in the offices and workplaces of modern society. In December he had a showing of nine of his creations, a series of large-format mixed-media artworks all produced in his Leaside apartment and entitled “We Will Return Your Call,” at Gallery 50 on Gladstone Ave. [click to continue…]

The Curious Idler

New rink at Leaside Gardens to be named for Doc Pashby

“Rink A” at Leaside Gardens will be renamed the “Dr. Tom Pashby Play Safely Rink,” arena board chair Ray White has announced.

An agreement between the arena board, the East York Foundation and the Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Fund was signed on December 21st. A special event will be held early in the new year.

“We are grateful to the Pashby Board of Directors and Bill, Bob and Jane Pashby for making this extraordinary gift possible,” said White in an email; “it will be a lasting legacy to Doc Pashby, his community spirit and important work in sports safety.” [click to continue…]

Elsewhere in Leaside sports…

The Leaside Junior Wildcats have been making a push for the playoffs going 6-2-1 in their last nine games. The Wildcats sit in a tie for seventh in their 20-team league as of now, but with 16 games remaining they are heating up at the perfect time.

Led by reigning coach of the year Kim McCullough, the team has steadily improved week after week against the best minor hockey teams in the province. The team has no shortage of talent on its roster. With four NCAA D1 commits, a further six players committed to CIS programs and sending three representatives to the U-18 nationals in Regina during November, it is no surprise they have surged up the standings.

McCullough noted that the team is getting contributions from each of its members and credits that as one of the reasons they have been able to improve week after week against their elite competition. Leaside plays five home games in January, so come out to Leaside Gardens to watch some top notch girls hockey.

When Dr. R. Gordon Bell founded the Donwood Institute in North Leaside in 1967, it was the first public hospital for addiction treatment in Canada.

When Dr. R. Gordon Bell founded the Donwood Institute in North Leaside in 1967, it was the first public hospital for addiction treatment in Canada.

The return of Bellwood Health Services to the site of the former Donwood Institute (see the December issue of Leaside Life) opens a new chapter in an important Leaside story that deserves to be better known.

The name Bellwood recognizes Dr. R. Gordon Bell, a trail-blazing pioneer in addiction treatment. When he opened the Donwood on the ravine-edge setting atop Brentcliffe Rd in March 1967, it was the first public hospital for the treatment of alcohol addiction in Canada, and one of the first in North America.

Bell was born in 1911 on a farm near St. Mary’s, Ont. and enrolled in medical studies at the University of Toronto in 1930. Although he failed his third year, spent nearly five of the Depression years working to pay his way, and got married, he eventually returned to his studies in 1939. The Canadian military urgently needed more doctors during the war, so medical training was accelerated. [click to continue…]

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, Mayor John Tory and Director of Education Dr. John Malloy visited Northlea to announce that soon photo radar will be used in an attempt to slow cars down in school zones. Photo by Gerri Gershon.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, Mayor John Tory and Director of Education Dr. John Malloy visited Northlea to announce that soon photo radar will be used in an attempt to slow cars down in school zones. Photo by Gerri Gershon.

Our Schools in Leaside are old – Bessborough is the oldest, built in 1923. Rolph Rd was constructed in 1939 and Northlea and Leaside High School in 1943. The newest school in our neighbourhood is Bennington Heights, constructed in 1950.

The physical spaces that our schools occupy – the buildings and the grounds – have been adapted to meet our societal changes with limited renovations and with much ingenuity along with the ability ‘to make do’. [click to continue…]

Fix It Again Sam-No appliance too big or too small

Photo by S. Flemming

Photo by S. Flemming

Fix It Again Sam…or should that be Bill?

Fix It Again Sam is a catchy name for this repair store fixture at 911 Millwood Rd. in the end unit of the plaza between Randolph and Sutherland. The two Bills who started the store thought it might be a name people would remember. And we do.

The two Bills had worked at a car radio shop in Richmond Hill but decided to see if a general fix-it business would work. Their original plan was to deliver flyers to homes, pick up the broken items, and return them to the owners – doing the necessary work in their (Bill’s) homes. That worked so well that in 1980, the two Bills took a chance on setting up a bricks and mortar business. Initially, all they had in the empty store was their two toolboxes. [click to continue…]

The LPOA was successful in reaching a mediated settlement with RioCan over their development application for 660 Eglinton Ave. East (Sunnybrook Plaza), forestalling an adversarial hearing scheduled to start on December 5th. Representatives of RioCan, and the LPOA, on behalf of the Leaside community signed minutes of settlement at the OMB on November 28. Board-assisted mediation involving RioCan, City staff, and the LPOA was extremely helpful in winning important concessions.

Compared to RioCan’s original application, the settlement calls for significant improvements, among them:

Height, massing, density, design

The final height reduces the proposed 19 and 13 storeys to 16 and 11 storeys, with a less massive appearance. Setbacks were introduced at the fifth storey instead of the eighth. The visual impact is considerably improved. [click to continue…]

Bayview-obsessed The Business of Leaside

Here at the “Business of Leaside,” we’re obsessed with the shops on Bayview. We’re continually asking ourselves the vexing questions that must be addressed for the street to be thriving as a retail destination in a city that’s full of them.

  • How can they be more successful?
  • How can they compete against the big stores over on Laird?
  • How can they bring back the good old days when retailers were booming?

The list goes on.

I lobbied for a stronger, more united retail community in this very column on several occasions before the adoption of the Bayview Leaside Business Improvement Area in 2015. Seeing Santa arrive on a horse-drawn carriage December 11 tells me the BIA understands there’s more to local retail than just opening the doors.

Still early days, I’m guardedly optimistic. [click to continue…]