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Student survey led to birth of LPC

Leaside, by Jane PitfieldIn the Spring of 1942, the students of Knox College, Toronto, conducted a survey of homes in the Leaside area. The official organization of a congregation began as a result of a meeting of interested people on October 28, 1942. Services of worship under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church of Canada were first held in the Bayview Theatre. Later, the congregation met in Bessborough Public School. Rev. W. T. McCrea was appointed the interim moderator and Glebe Presbyterian Church, located on the west side of Bayview, oversaw the congregation.

By December 1942, the name of Leaside Presbyterian Church was chosen. Officers and committees were appointed to organize the church and Rev. G. W. MacKay conducted worship. Mrs. MacKay and Mrs. John Fernie directed the Sunday School. In March 1943, Mr. J. C. Hay, a student of Knox College, was called to be the minister. Ordained in April 1945, Reverend Hay served his congregation for ten years.

Four lots were purchased from the York Land Company on the north-west corner of the intersection of Hanna Road and Eglinton Avenue in January 1944. Later the same year, a lot from the Fleming Estate that would allow for 193 ft. frontage on Eglinton, was acquired.

Because of wartime regulations, special permission from the government was required in order to erect a church with a basement. James Wilson, a church member, was contracted as the architect. The building, costing $19,000.00 and accommodating 225 people, was formally opened by Rev. A. O. Stewart, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, on April 1, 1945. The first two elected elders, F. A. Willett and J. T. Carlyle, began the Kirk Session. At this time, Eglinton was unpaved and only two homes existed east of Bayview Avenue.

In 1947, while Leaside High School was being built, it became necessary to hold classes in the basement of the church, located across the street. This accommodation was reciprocated in 1952 when the church congregation met at the high school while Leaside Presbyterian, now with a capacity of 500, was expanded. Bruce Brown and Brisley were the architects for this building which cost $160,000.00.

When Reverend J. C. Hay left in 1955, Reverend Douglas G. Seaton arrived as the new minister. In October 1961, the new Christian Education Wing was built for $120,000.00. This addition included a chapel, several classrooms, a boardroom and a parlour. Today, the Leaside Presbyterian Church continues to serve the community and shares the church building with a Korean congregation.