Leon Bragg is definitely a woman – but when her family was sending in the requests for honouring her 100th birthday on February 24, 2018, they didn’t bother to mention that fact – so they have a few acknowledgements of “his” significant birthday in addition to the correct ones now on display.
Leon Bragg, named in honour of an uncle, was born in what was then Grand Falls Station, now Grand Falls, Newfoundland – then a colony of Great Britain. Her father died at age 29 when she was only 2, but her mother lived until she was two months shy of her 102nd birthday. Leon’s stepfather was with the railway and originally from Newfoundland’s west coast. So, when the time came to choose a career, Leon chose nursing over teaching and went to Hamilton Memorial Hospital in North Sydney, because it was closer to home than going east to St. John’s. After graduation, she came home and first worked at the military hospital in Stephenville, but during World War II transferred to Gander Hospital, where she became the matron.
While there, she met and became engaged to Jim Bragg from Pouch Cove, who was working in the ranger force (policeman) in Gander. The couple didn’t see a future for them in Gander, or Newfoundland, after the war. Jim had a friend in Toronto, so that is where they headed in December 1947. Jim quickly got a job on the police force in Toronto, and Leon was hired for private duty nursing at St. Michael’s Hospital. After they married, she worked part time at the Branson Hospital on Finch Avenue in the 11 years before their three children were born. She particularly remembers enjoying staff lunches of “dill pickles and cottage cheese.”
They found a home for their family on Maughan Crescent in the Beaches and Leon happily lived there even after Jim died in 2002. But she had an elderly dog, Calvin, who really needed to live somewhere with no stairs and easy access to the outdoors. That place turned out to be in a condo building in Leaside, where there was a ground floor unit available with a terrace to the back common area.
The dog has since died, but Leon continues to “live a peaceful life.” She “figured she could look after herself” and manages very well, but “is not as independent as I’d like to be,” she says. She is “fortunate to have a supportive family” who keep an eye on her.
This is one practical, no-nonsense woman. She says she is “ready to go,” has paid for her funeral, and made her wishes known to her family that there is to be no service, “no nothing.”
She was also trying to avoid a fuss on her 100th birthday. But her family begged, so there was a family dinner and an evening get-together, which, in the end, Leon was pleased had happened. Many happy returns, Leon!