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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…]

Christian Redmann and volleyball team

Photo by Daniel Girard

Christian Redmann has ample firsthand experience with not making the team.

In the early days of his volleyball career, long before playing the indoor game for the University of Toronto, wearing a Canada jersey on the Beach Volleyball World Tour or competing for a spot at the Summer Olympics, Redmann was cut from his share of school and community club teams. [click to continue…]

Carol showing off her 24 lb. weight loss!

Carol showing off her 24 lb. weight loss!

A few weeks ago I emailed Carol and Dave to let them know that April would be the last month I would be covering their story. They’ve come to the end of their 12-week program with Inside Out Studio, and I fully expected emails back with one word in the subject line: “phew.” Instead…crickets! When we finally touched based by phone a week or so later, Carol’s reaction was “that went fast,” while Dave’s was twofold: “good” and “uh oh…now you’re on your own, David!” Thankfully both have enjoyed the process of having their journey documented for their fellow Leasiders.

The path to weight loss and wellness is never an easy one. Most daily habits require change, which takes time and hard work. The number of calories we take in daily and hours put in at the gym are easily quantified. What we don’t have control over are the ups and downs that life tosses our way. The emotional side of life can very much affect our daily program. Last month both Dave and Carol had life challenges that could easily have derailed their progress. Food, as you know, can be a very powerful comfort during times of stress. [click to continue…]

Vezina tries a little slice and dice at White House Meats Butchering 101

Karli breaks down “primal” rib while Stanley supervises.

Karli breaks down “primal” rib while Stanley supervises.

I’ve always been good with a blade.

I don’t mean in the Kill Bill kind of way, but in the way that I used to enjoy carving wax candles and pieces of wood. Despite my slicing skills, I have next to no experience with meat preparation. This is largely due to the fact that I was a vegetarian around the time I moved out and started cooking more.

Most of what I do know about meats I’ve learned from working in the restaurant industry. I’ve learned the names of things, what part of the animal it comes from, and which cut of steak is best. But other than that – I’ve got nothing. I decided it was time to learn more about meat and poultry and reached out to Stanley Janecek, owner of White House Meats on Bayview Ave. (and the one on Bloor St. West), for help. Stanley was a gracious host, allowing me into his Bayview butcher shop for a day of Butchering 101. [click to continue…]

The Alkheder Family

The Alkheder Family

She has trouble controlling her bladder. She has trouble sleeping. When she finally sleeps she has trouble waking up. She has flashbacks, about the house that was bombed, about the hunger and weariness as her family travelled on foot from Damascus to Turkey, then on to Canada, a journey that took them two years, moving from place to place and camp to camp, often hungry, always homeless.

She is five years old. And now Over the Rainbow, a program provided by the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, is helping her – and others like her – learn to be a child. [click to continue…]

The Lancebotics Team on their way to the Worlds

The Lancebotics Team on their way to the Worlds

For the third year in a row, the Lancebotics Leaside Robotics Team from Leaside High School are on their way to the World Championships after their best finish ever in the Ontario Provincial VEX Robotics Championships on February 24 and 25. Four teams from Leaside and their robots travelled to the Ontario Championships in St. Catharines, and one team, Team D, finished first in the qualifying round, the only team to remain undefeated there, and second in the tournament overall. [click to continue…]

The joys of traffic in Leaside

Spring arrives, with better weather, green grass and daffodils blooming. There is also a less welcome change: our through traffic numbers increase. With the ice and snow a fading memory, drivers across the city – across the entire GTA – rediscover the joys of driving through Leaside. Those of us who live here notice that all of a sudden there seem to be more cars on our streets, many of them driving faster.

There ARE more cars on our streets, adding to the problems we already have with congestion and speed. Meanwhile, construction on the LRT line continues, and new construction begins on LRT stations at Bayview and Laird, creating more traffic headaches. [click to continue…]

“Transit does drive change in Leaside” – Leaside appeals decided

This column’s January headline read “Transit driving change in Leaside – but at what cost?” Time will answer the cost question, but the OMB has issued its decision regarding the two Eglinton Connects “Leaside appeals” heard in December 2016: the LPOA appeals of the City of Toronto Official Plan Amendment (OPA) for townhouses on the south side of Eglinton west of Hanna, and the zoning bylaw amendment for “as of right” 7- and 8-storey midrise development between Sutherland and Laird.

The OMB member dismissed the LPOA appeals based on the “uncontroverted expert land use planning evidence of Mr. (Brian) Gallaugher that (each City-approved intensification proposal) has appropriate regard for the matters of Provincial Interest in the Planning Act, is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, and conforms to the Growth Plan, and to the City’s Official Plan.” [click to continue…]

How well do you know your neighbourhood? Leaside by the numbers


The total dollar value of the 10 detached homes that sold in Leaside in the month of February, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).1


The average number of days those 10 homes were on the market before they sold.1

Only one area in the City of Toronto sold faster in February – what’s known as C06, according to TREB – the part of North York running along the extension of the Spadina subway between Dufferin and Bathurst north of Wilson to Steeles Ave. [click to continue…]

Harry and Ruth in September 2016 along the Lake Erie shoreline at Rock Point Provincial Park, formerly the site of Camp Kvutza, where both spent time in the summers during the 1950s. Photo By Allan Williams.

Harry and Ruth in September 2016 along the Lake Erie shoreline at Rock Point Provincial Park, formerly the site of Camp Kvutza, where both spent time in the summers during the 1950s. Photo By Allan Williams.

Harry and Ruth Goldhar are retiring from the community newspaper business, for a second time.

After five successful years of operation, the founders of Leaside Life have sold it to new owners.

And that means, now that he has given up the editorial reins, Harry, who has always preferred to remain in the background, can no longer do anything to prevent this paper from paying a richly-deserved and somewhat delayed tribute to two dedicated community builders, mutually supportive and complementary business partners, and all-round great people. [click to continue…]

Harry and Ruth with their four grandchildren, l-r: Kelvey, Rachel, Michaela and Nathan on a 2016 Disney Cruise. Their 2017 travel plans include Cuba and South America.

Harry and Ruth with their four grandchildren, l-r: Kelvey, Rachel, Michaela and Nathan on a 2016 Disney Cruise. Their 2017 travel plans include Cuba and South America.

One of my fondest memories of both Harry and Ruth concerns the last day of a municipal election when my wife Beth and I decided we should finish my campaign by saying hello to all our neighbours. [click to continue…]

“It was a milestone in Canadian history,” says Drew Hamblin of Sutherland Drive, “the first time the four Canadian divisions fought together as a single unit, and the day Canada stopped being a colony and became a nation in the eyes of the world.”

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought 100 years ago next month, on the morning of April 9, 1917 – Easter Monday. And Hamblin knows far more than most about the day “when Canada came of age.” He’s read the books and is familiar with the manuscripts, films and other sources. But the battle is of more than academic interest to Hamblin; there’s a personal connection, too.

Hamblin’s grandfather, Frank Edgar Hamblin (1897-1988), served in the First World War and fought that day at Vimy Ridge. And while many veterans of his grandfather’s generation were famously reticent to talk about their wartime experiences even to their own family members and often took their tales with them to the grave, Frank Hamblin opened up to his young grandson. [click to continue…]