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Photo By Bruce Zinger.

It started with a simple enough goal – two buddies looking to fit exercise into their busy lives.

Fraser Chapman and Chris Ferron, who had spent a couple of years riding their road bicycles most evenings after work, had to find another time to meet after the arrival of Chapman’s first child, Sadie. They switched their daily exercise from 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. when schedules had fewer conflicts.

It was spring 2008 when the pair first hit the road in the morning darkness, quickly discovering they were not alone. Single and dual cyclists were everywhere, prompting Chapman and Ferron to frequently change course, chase those other riders down for introductions and to share email addresses so group rides could be arranged. [click to continue…]

Kate Macdonald Butler: Leaside’s Canada 150 Ambassador

Kate McDonald Butler, Granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery and Canada's Official 150 Ambassador

Kate McDonald Butler, Granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery and Canada’s Official 150 Ambassador

One of Canada’s most enduring literary icons is Lucy Maud Montgomery, known for her Anne of Green Gables series of novels as well as a myriad of other works. Interest in Anne never seems to wane as is evidenced by the most recent CBC series.

Leaside has its own connection to Montgomery in the person of her granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, who runs the company Heirs of L. M. Montgomery Inc., from her office on Commercial Rd. On top of her extensive duties as president of the family business, Kate has been chosen as a Canada 150 Ambassador to promote events celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday on social media platforms. [click to continue…]

LETTERS – June 2017

The City not doing enough

I was reading the article by Cheryl Vanderburg – Leaside Litterati (April 2017) and I was quite surprised that Cheryl stated that the City of Toronto was doing a lot with respect to basement flooding in Toronto. Many “experts” I spoke with share the exact opposite opinion for the following reasons (not a complete list):

Toronto Water has no policy requiring abandoned sanitary laterals to be capped like most jurisdictions in North America. 

Toronto Water issues dewatering permits for construction sites that allow developers to pump all water on site into the storm/sanitary systems using huge pumps that continue to operate even if a massive storm is coming. [click to continue…]

The rich history of Serena Gundy THE PARKS OF LEASIDE

Serena Gundy Park Sign Photo. Photo By Robin Dickie.

Photo By Robin Dickie.

As the weather warms up and the outdoors beckon, activities at Leaside’s Serena Gundy Park are heating up too. The park – named after the first wife of the late James H. Gundy, head of the Wood Gundy securities firm – is located in North Leaside in the West Don River Valley, north of Eglinton Ave. East. [click to continue…]

Bennington Heights The Streets of Leaside

Cudmore Farm

Cudmore Farm

While not technically in Leaside, Bennington Heights Drive is close enough to share an M4G postal code. This curving road is the “main street” of the neighbourhood known as Bennington Heights.

Thousands of years ago, Bennington Heights was on the shoreline of Lake Iroquois (Lake Ontario). It was first settled in the 1870s by John Cudmore and Daniel Ryan, who operated successful market gardens on their properties until the area was developed in 1889. The Cudmore farm was subdivided for residential development (a trend that lives on today!) in 1889 and again in 1912. Ryan’s property, located just north of the Cudmore farm, was also subdivided in stages, first in 1891 and again in 1946. [click to continue…]

What would TRACE MANES say?

Residential garbage overflowing at Trace Manes park. Photo By Michelle Pappas.

Trace Manes Park is named in honour of a popular Leaside mayor of the late 1940s. It comprises a baseball diamond – the home of Leaside Atom Baseball (LAB) – a sports field, the summer home of Pedalheads Bike Camp. It’s also the home of the Leaside Tennis Club with its six tennis courts, the Leaside Public Library, Trace Manes Park Community Centre, and the children’s wading pool and park. Phew! That’s a lot of activities.

As I do my weekly cleanups, I often look up to the heavens and wonder what Trace Manes would think of his legacy. Does he see the dogs pooping in the Millwood/Rumsey corner entrance and their owners who don’t ‘stoop and scoop’? Does he see the smokers who sit on the benches and leave a mound of butts at their feet? Or the late night beer drinkers who toss their empties carelessly on the ground? I don’t mind picking up this random litter as my hope is that when the park is clean, ‘people won’t litter where there is no litter’. What I do resent is cleaning up after the permit holders – I’m talking to you, LAB and Pedalheads – whose responsibility it is as part of their contract with the city to leave their section of the park neat and clean after their activity finishes. [click to continue…]


Robbie Alomar

Robbie Alomar. Photo By Daniel Girard.

Roberto Alomar, the first player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and fellow former Jays George Bell and Duane Ward, led a skills clinic for about 150 players from the Leaside Atom Baseball Association at Trace Manes Park on Mother’s Day.  [click to continue…]

Leaside’s boxing great SHAWN O’SULLIVAN

Shawn O’Sullivan

Shawn O’Sullivan

Do you remember when Leasider Shawn O’Sullivan won the gold medal at the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 1981 and again in 1983? At the time he was the toast of the town and the Borough of East York.

Shawn grew up on Donlea Drive along with his twin sister Maureen and his younger brother Kevin. Shawn jokes that he is the eldest because he was born a few minutes before Maureen. He first learned to box under the guidance and instruction of his father Michael. Michael O’Sullivan was a TTC bus driver and I often chatted with him when I rode his bus on my way downtown. [click to continue…]

Moranne accepting the gift along with (l-r: Jennifer Smith, (President, TLGHA), Jenny Shaw (Ian’s daughter), Pat Shaw (Ian’s wife), and Suzanne Hume (Registrar, TLGHA).

Moranne accepting the gift along with (l-r: Jennifer Smith, (President, TLGHA), Jenny Shaw (Ian’s daughter), Pat Shaw (Ian’s wife), and Suzanne Hume (Registrar, TLGHA).

WANTED: individual for part-time work. Must be in top-notch physical condition, willing to work early mornings and late nights, and able to withstand verbal abuse and a constant questioning of your skills.

This may be a job application many would avoid. But under the tutelage of the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association (TLGHA)’s long-time referee-in-chief Ian Shaw, hundreds upon hundreds of females not only accepted jobs as referees but became skillful and confident in their positions. [click to continue…]

Photo By Robin Dickie

Photo By Robin Dickie

Larry Tung began to develop roots in Leaside as the Laird Eglinton Pet Hospital grew and flourished. The veteran veterinarian managed the hospital, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in Leaside this year, at its original location in Leaside Plaza on Eglinton next to PetSmart and Canadian Tire but found it was too small to handle a busy and growing customer base, so he moved in 2011 to the current location at 211 Laird Dr. [click to continue…]

The Leaside Gardener: Embracing our roots!

Leaside has been fortunate to have in its history a series of events where each change of hands made a positive difference in embracing our rich nature. John Lea knew it with his farmland in 1819 and so did his son William, the poet and nature lover who expanded the farm. Fredrick Todd knew it too when he designed our streets with the Garden City principles and envisioned these streets filled with our native plants. Each one embraced this land for its natural and unique qualities, and so should we. [click to continue…]

Millie and Iona.

Millie and Iona. Photo By Janis Fertuck.

Long-time Leaside resident and CNIB employee Millie Umehara became a centenarian on April 10. A party was held in her honour at the CNIB on Bayview Ave.

Millie grew up on a farm in Oak Ridges, but gradually lost her sight in her 20s as a result of retinitis pigmentosa. A home teacher from the CNIB taught her Braille as well as home and personal management skills. Millie was such a good student that she moved to Toronto in 1949 to take the training as a home teacher herself at the CNIB, which was located downtown on Beverley St. at the time. Home teachers, or rehabilitation teachers as they are now called, help those who have lost their sight to organize and arrange their homes, so they can continue to do all the chores they used to do. [click to continue…]

Iona at Home. Photo By Janis Fertuck.

Iona at Home. Photo By Janis Fertuck.

Golfers are well known for being so devoted to their sport they will get out on their favourite course as soon as it opens in the spring regardless of the weather, and continue to play well into the fall with frost on the ground.

But there is one group who take their enthusiasm to an even higher level, who are so passionate about golf they pursue it despite being visually impaired. Golf for blind and visually impaired enthusiasts is a growing trend both nationally and internationally, and Ontario has its own association, known as OVIG or Ontario Visually Impaired Golfers. According to its brochure, OVIG is a charitable organization whose mission is “to provide instruction and opportunities to play the game to blind and visually-impaired Ontarians.” Some were golfers before losing their sight, while others took up golf afterwards. [click to continue…]

RIP Michael Bliss

Michael Bliss. Photo By Allan Williams.

We were very sorry to learn of the death of noted historian Michael Bliss, long-time Leaside resident and Leaside Life contributor. We were very fortunate to have him grace our publication for so many years with his witty takes on life in Leaside. He will be missed. —Editor

Allan Williams’ Leaside Life profile of Bliss appeared in 2013. It is reprinted here in an edited version.

One of Canada’s best-known and most prolific historians is a Leasider. [click to continue…]

The Reverend Veronica Roynon is not the Queen of England!

The Rev. Veronica Roynon

The Rev. Veronica Roynon

Not everyone is willing to step up for a challenge, even when it sounds interesting.

But the Rev. Veronica Roynon has stepped up for many challenges over her life. Her latest is to be screened to work as a spiritual care professional at Sunnybrook conducting a Sunday church service in H Wing three Sundays a month for anyone to attend, and then visiting veterans individually in K wing on Sunday and Monday. She continues to volunteer at the Central North Correctional Centre, a maximum security institution in Penetanguishene monthly. While in Toronto, she stays with her son in Leaside and also visits with her daughter in the Beaches.

While Veronica is now an ordained priest in the Anglican Church, her route to the priesthood was not a straight line. In fact, she had no idea she would be called to the church when she came to Canada from England with a job offer to nurse. She worked first in Peterborough, and then got a room in a house on Millwood Rd. with friends. She found employment in the OR at Sunnybrook, and then at Sick Kids as a paediatric nurse. [click to continue…]

The four Fiat bike jump

It was the summer of 1972. I was 12 years old, and coincidently, so was my twin brother, Tim. One day after school, we both walked into the Fiat dealership that used to be located on the southeast corner of Bayview and Eglinton, years before the McDonald’s opened at that same spot. Tim was the daredevil and I was his agent. I asked to speak to the manager. We cooled our heels in the showroom for a few minutes before we were ushered into the manager’s office.

I had already instructed Tim to let me do that talking, so I took the lead.

“Thanks for seeing us. To get right to the point, my brother Tim here is prepared to jump his bicycle over four of your Fiats. It’s dangerous and it’s never been done before. Think of the publicity for your dealership.” [click to continue…]

David and Kate

David and Kate

As I sit down to write this, I’ve just finished a wonderful Friday night dinner of delicious rainbow trout. It’s one of my favourite types of fish, which I picked up at de la mer on Bayview. I also happen to be a big fan of their king crab, which is a New Year’s Eve staple in my home.

I had a chance to sit down with David Owen, one of the co-owners of De La Mer, and Kate, the Bayview location manager, for an excellent education in all things fishy.

De La Mer is celebrating seven years on Bayview Ave., and is the first store of Dave and co-owner Blake Edwards’ three-store chain, with locations on the Danforth in the east end and Roncesvalles in the west end. I asked Dave why he and Blake decided to open up a seafood shop (or “seafood boutique,” as I like to call it) on Bayview, and he answered pretty quickly that they noticed a fishmonger was the missing business on the Bayview strip. No science behind their decision, but they both have a background in food (as professionally trained cooks) and sales, so it worked. How lucky for our seafood-loving community. [click to continue…]

North Leaside traffic calming – driving forward

Early in 2015, I formed traffic committees in both North and South Leaside, each with a mandate to assess Leaside’s traffic situation and offer potential solutions to community concerns of volume, safety and quality-of-life issues.

In selecting committee members, I sought to have a wide scope of representation: people residing on both “quiet” and “busy” streets and people with different perspectives – seniors, those with school-aged children, newer residents, and long-time ones as well.

After two years and literally thousands of hours of work, the North Leaside Traffic Committee (NLTC) presented their findings to the community at the town hall I hosted on May 9. Although they formulated 16 different plans, they narrowed the options to two for the community to consider. [click to continue…]

An aerial view of St. Anselm’s.

An aerial view of St. Anselm’s.

Writing profiles of each of Leaside’s six main churches over the past year was both a pleasure and an eye-opener. [The series began with Leaside United in June 2016 and concluded with St. Augustine’s Anglican in February 2017; all six profiles are posted at www.leasidelifenews.com.]

It was a pleasure meeting and talking with so many dedicated people who care deeply about their churches, are proud of their history and role in the community, and are engaged in their activities. It was an eye-opener to see the similarity in the challenges they face, regardless of denomination, and how serious, even existential, those challenges may be. [click to continue…]

STEM Day at Bessborough

Grade 6 teacher Sarah Buksner and student teacher, Sasha Haber with a roller-coaster made out of plastic straws.

Grade 6 teacher Sarah Buksner and student teacher, Sasha Haber with a roller-coaster made out of plastic straws.

If you haven’t heard of STEM, you should know it’s one of the biggest trends in education and a new way of engaging students, especially female students, in learning more about science and math.

STEM is an acronym referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Leaside is not immune to its influence. [click to continue…]


David Sparrow in SuitLeasider David Sparrow was elected National President of ACTRA (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) at the union’s Council meeting in Toronto on May 13th and 14th.

ACTRA represents the work-life interests of more than 23,000 professional unionized performers working in recorded media to tell great Canadian stories to the world. Sparrow served as president of ACTRA Toronto for four years before this election as national president for a two-year term. A performer himself, he has appeared in over 100 film & TV roles, including Serendipity, Corner Gas, Star Trek Voyager, Fargo and Odd Squad, along with doing voice work in commercials and cartoons. [click to continue…]

PC Dolenc with Vezina outside 53 Division. Photo by PC Ron Mackay.

PC Dolenc with Vezina outside 53 Division. Photo by PC Ron Mackay.

When I first learned that my request to spend a day at 53 Division had been approved, I was excited. Shortly after, my mood shifted to nervous and then to dread. What unit would I work with? Would there be danger lurking at every corner?

Police Constable and Community Response Unit member Brenda Dolenc suggested that a day with the Primary Response Unit might be more exciting, but much as I love Leaside Life, I was not (yet) ready to die for it. I humbly requested to tag along with her in the CRU. [click to continue…]

Get ready for construction woes at Laird and Millwood

Laird and Millwood

Laird and Millwood. Photo by Robin Dickie.

Leasiders no doubt will recall the massive delays and congestion of a year or so ago, when the Bayview Extension was being repaved between Rosedale Valley Rd. and Moore Ave.

Southbound traffic along Bayview Ave. was clogged, as were all access streets (Moore, McRae and Merton among them). On one otherwise lovely evening it took the Fripps over an hour to get from Southvale Dr. to the Evergreen Brickworks. [click to continue…]

In praise of the zipper merge on Bayview

A couple of years ago my brother and I were having a discussion about the proper way to enter a highway when there is stop-and-go traffic. The two of us rarely agree on anything, so it wasn’t surprising that we disagreed on the appropriate course of action in this situation.

He thought you’re better to go all the way to the end of the on-ramp lane, merging into traffic at the very last minute. I, on the other hand, suggested it made more sense to cut in at the first safe moment. Nothing got solved that day. We agreed to disagree. [click to continue…]