Leaside History

Overview

  • “Leaside” was built by William Lea, founder of the Village of Leaside, between 1851 and 1854.
  • In September 1894, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) opened a train station in Leaside, naming it the Leaside Junction, after William Lea. Eventually renamed the Leaside Station, it served as a busy stop for CP passenger trains for over 75 years until 1970, when CP eliminated its passenger service.
  • In 1912, two principal shareholders of the Canadian Northern Railway – Donald Mann and William Mackenzie – hired Frederick Todd, a town planner and landscape architect, to lay out the plans for the Town of Leaside. Todd had designed two of their other model towns: Mount Royal (Montreal) and Port Mann (Vancouver).
  • On April 23, 1913, the Town of Leaside was incorporated with a population of 43 residents and Randolph McRae as its first Mayor. However, 25 years would pass before residential construction of houses in the Leaside we know today began in earnest, with the economy finally emerging from the Great Depression.
  • In 1927, the Leaside Viaduct (across the Don Valley) and the Millwood underpass (beneath the CP rail line) were constructed, connecting Leaside southward.
  • Henry Howard Talbot, visionary mayor of Leaside from 1938-1947, was responsible for much of the town’s growth.
  • In 1956, Eglinton Avenue was extended eastward across the Don River, connecting Leaside to Don Mills and Scarborough.
  • In 1967, the Town of Leaside was amalgamated into the neighbouring Borough of East York.
  • In 1998, the Borough of East York (the last remaining “borough” in Canada) was amalgamated into the new City of Toronto, along with Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York, and the former City of Toronto.

Further reading

Leaside Matters, online gallery of photos, maps, and videos

Leaside Matters, Cultural Heritage Landscape of Leaside [PDF]

Chris Bateman, BlogTOWhat Leaside used to look like in Toronto

Jamie Bradburn, TorontoistThe Birth of Leaside: How a railroad planned a community around its expansion plans a century ago

Geoff Kettel, columns in Leaside Life

Jane Pitfield, Leaside LifeLeaside’s Proud History

Andrew Watson, NiCHE, An Unpredictable Path to the Suburbs: A History of Toronto’s Leaside Neighbourhood

Do you have any suggestions for further reading? Please contact us.

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