A future for the Layers of Leaside

So the Layers of Leaside tableau display, which describes and illustrates the community’s rich cultural history and built heritage through maps, images and text, was on display at the Leaside Library for an all-too-brief six days during the last week of April. Over 400 signatures in the guest book, many positive comments, and visitors that must have numbered several times that, attest to an extremely well received exhibit.

The library must be pleased. They were hopping all week.

So what now? We hope to have the panels exhibited at other venues in Toronto over the next year but in the meantime Hal Spradling of All Canadian Self-Storage has kindly provided a “home base” for the panels.

We will also look into whether a permanent home for the exhibit can be provided at the new enlarged Leaside arena when it reopens in the fall.  Also the content of the panels will be uploaded to the Leaside100 web site.

But there was more on display than the Layers of Leaside panels. Community members contributed many creations, artifacts, and pictures.

A special hit with visitors were the three special maps of Leaside by local historian John Naulls: a map showing the historical development of Leaside from 1913 to 1934, a map compiling all of Frederick Todd’s plans of subdivision from 1913, and a drainage map showing the so-called ”lost rivers” of Leaside.

In addition, John Naulls also contributed interesting artifacts such as a World War 1 shell, a switch used by the railways to signal the safe changing of tracks, and a scale model he had made of Brian Peck’s two-seater biplane – a Curtiss JN4.

As the week went on, the displays grew as community members brought in additional items.  For example, the daughter of R.V. Burgess, clerk of the former Town of Leaside, for whom the park in the centre of Thorncliffe Park is named, brought in pictures of her father and the town councils he served.

One of the learnings from the archival exhibit is the importance of archival images to describing and understanding the evolution of Leaside as a “place”.

Many of the images utilized were digital pictures and photographs from the Special Collections Department of Toronto Reference Library.  Barbara Myrvold, Service Specialist, Local History with the Toronto Public Library, has noted that a majority of the images were created in the 1940s and 1950s by James Victor Salmon (1911-1958), a gifted amateur photographer who lived in Leaside for part of that time.

His images of buildings, streetscapes and events are an invaluable record of the town’s mature phase of development after the World War II (Layer IV).  Going forward, a worthwhile project would be to document the buildings and streetscapes of Leaside today.

Our grandchildren may thank us when in 2063 they celebrate 150 years since the incorporation of the town of Leaside!

About Geoff Kettel 222 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.