A grandparent’s eye view of this special community

Recently we had the annual call from a realtor friend asking if we plan to sell our house this year. It’s about her 30th annual call and it always gets the same response: “No, never. We’ll all be dead before this house changes hands.”

No matter the issues filling the columns of Leaside Life: redevelopment, traffic congestion, business failures, etc. No matter that we know we live in a teardown, a house no buyer of our property is likely to think worth preserving. No matter ice storms, airplane noise, crabgrass, or speed bumps. We have lived in Leaside for 50 years and are planning to be here for the next 50 or so.

A grandparent’s eye view of Leaside is very different from that of the young, who have to struggle with big mortgages, parents who keep anxious eyes on the quality of our schools, and the middle-aged who calculate trade-offs between grander houses and retirement nest eggs. 

With mortgages paid off, reasonable financial security, and every kind of home and recreational and business service readily available, many of us seniors find Leaside an ideal community in which to stretch out the rest of our lives.

You know, Leaside doesn’t change very quickly, and, with the possible exception of the Laird corridor, most of the changes in recent decades have arguably been improvements.

Most Leaside streets are as quiet and pleasant and safe as ever. While a few of our new faux chateaux are a bit much, the housing stock is improving rather than deteriorating. Maybe it’s tough to run a small business on Bayview, but the restaurants have never been better. Could someone please open a cinema somewhere in the new shopping centres?

Community institutions seem to be strong. Leaside has survived the horrors of amalgamation. Ethnic diversification is a positive good. Leaside’s sense of identity seems to be growing, rather than shrinking. We self-identify as Leasiders at least as much as we are Torontonians.

You may not like him very much, but even the Prime Minister of Canada is proud of his Leaside roots (and don’t you think the Leaside Stephen Harper is kinder and gentler than the Calgary Stephen Harper?).

When we moved to this house, ours were the lively little children on the street, no doubt both brightening and blightening the lives of our older neighbours.

Now we’re the oldsters, and one of the best things about Leaside is that it’s continually renewed by new generations, the kids who invariably brighten our lives, the energetic parents who organize the block parties and stand on guard through the LPOA and other organizations to protect and enrich this sunny small town in the heart of Toronto.

A very good place in which to grow old and ignore the realtors.

MICHAEL BLISS is an eminent Canadian historian.