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The little meeting place that nobody knows

For a Centennial project in 1967, the Town of Leaside built the only stand-alone meeting/recreation building in Leaside and called it Trace Manes Centennial Building. It’s on that wedge of land that also houses the Leaside Library, Leaside Tennis Club and Trace Manes Park. The name Trace Manes is to honour a popular Leaside mayor of the late 1940s.

Originally the schools and churches provided public meeting places in Leaside, and it wasn’t until Leaside Community Memorial Gardens was built in the 1950s, with the William Lea Room as meeting or banquet space, that there was anything owned by the municipality for public use.

Trace Manes had a spruce-up this past fall, but it is still a rather small building by current standards, just four meeting rooms, one of them used during the season by the Leaside Tennis Club, which leaves three for general use.

Back in the early 1970s, I was part of a group allowed to use one of those rooms once a week as a play place for our youngsters. It was unorganized. We’d rotate who stayed to do child care and who got to go off for a couple of hours of adult time.
The current version of this runs on Monday mornings, has a membership, a fee of $100 and these days the moms are in one room listening to a speaker while they enjoy a coffee while their children are being cared for elsewhere in the building. And this group is full. They really don’t need to advertise. The banks of strollers outside the door seem to do it for them.

The city runs a variety of programs at Trace Manes that they advertise in their FUN Guide, everything from piano lessons for children to yoga for older adults.
One of the rooms in the building is called the Seniors Room, because funding for it was provided by the Toronto Leaside Rotary Club. Preferential rentals are provided for groups of seniors using the room.

Currently, there is a bridge club running on Tuesdays and a euchre club on Wednesdays early in the afternoon. Additional players would be welcome at both clubs. Because they are run on a shoestring, they don’t advertise, so newcomers, while welcome, need to be able to ferret them out, or be fortunate and know someone who already belongs.

The Leaside Bridge Club does pay a rental fee for using the space, and usually has 10 or 11 tables playing duplicate bridge on a Wednesday evening. An earlier version of their constitution stated that membership was “open to any person of good moral character”. That wording has been changed, but they still want players to be “respectful of other players and of the rules of the game”.

Another long-time group is the Leaside Book Club. They met in the Leaside Library for 30 years until the library was closed to be rebuilt. They adjourned to Trace Manes and found they liked the space in the Noble Room so much that they stayed even after the new library was opened.

Want space for a birthday party? That’s possible too. And so are other occasional events, such as various craft shows or the Leaside Garden Club May plant sale. Drop in to have a look.