Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz famously clicked her red heels together and repeated the mantra “there’s no place like home” to return to her beloved Kansas. Many Leasiders would agree – home in Leaside is where their hearts remain. Here are just three Leasiders whose roots run deep:
After leaving home at 18, it took Kevin McGroarty a few decades to return to his childhood home on Bessborough Drive.
The youngest of 11 children, Kevin said, “My parents purchased their home in the late 1940s, and in the 1960s when I was young Leaside was full of kids and so much fun. We were free to come and go and play with our friends.”
In 2009 at the age of 90, Kevin’s mother decided to move out and offered to sell the house to any of her children. But, “by this time all of us had settled into our own homes,” said Kevin. “My wife Nancy and I had just fully renovated our (own) Leaside home. Yet we were keen to ensure the preservation of the unique architecture of Mom’s home, so we purchased and renovated it to suit our family. Preserving the integrity of the architecture had its challenges. We had to waterproof and spent two years searching for stone to match the house when building our three ft. wall fronting the property.”
In 1937, John Naulls’s parents purchased and mortgaged five houses in South Leaside. Each cost $5,000. He said, “They rented out four and lived in the fifth at 168 McRae Dr. This arrangement worked great until WWII when rents decreased and they had to sell the rentals. I lived my early years in the McRae home attending Bessborough School, which also housed the fire department, council chambers, and was the setting for community bake sales and other events, making for interesting school days.”
In 1957, John’s parents purchased the house behind theirs on Crandall Rd., and raised and sold pet budgie birds there. John lived at Crandall until he married in 1970. Then, “in 1979 my parents decided to sell. I felt honoured to purchase their home yet felt odd about changing anything. So in honour of my parents, the home remains pretty much like it was during my childhood – right down to where the furniture is placed and even the paint colours.”
In 1965, Barrig Hayward’s father, an Armenian immigrant, bought a North Leaside home for $30,000. He worked sweeping floors for 25 cents an hour to make ends meet. In 1967 he was promoted to the sales floor and now felt ready to marry his sweetheart, a teacher. Barrig was born a few years later and was cared for by her widowed grandmother, who came to live with the family so both parents could work.
Barrig has lived all but three years of her life on Glenvale Blvd. “I moved out as a new bride. My husband and I bought in Ajax, but just three years later, my Mom, now widowed, found the maintenance too much,” Barrig said. Immediately, she and her husband suggested, “Mom, we can sell our home, purchase yours and all live together.” Since Barrig was about to give birth to the first of their three boys, history was about to repeat itself with Barrig’s mother caring for her grandson just as Barrig’s grandmother had raised her.
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