A haven for seniors in Leaside since 1987

Executive Director Juha Mynttinen. Photo Lorna Krawchuk.
Executive Director Juha Mynttinen. Photo Lorna Krawchuk.

Suomi-Koti, or “Finnish Home” in English, on Eglinton just west of Laird Drive, has been a fixture in the Leaside neighbourhood for more than three decades.

In 1982, five Finnish churches of different denominations started working together to see if they could assemble the land and money to build housing for seniors somewhere in central Toronto. Buying five small apartment buildings gave them the land they needed. A lot of the money came from individuals selling their homes to finance the building. The original six-storey building, whose official name is Toronto Finnish-Canadian Seniors Centre, is the first in Ontario to use the life-lease concept for 55 of the units in the building, with the remaining 33 being rentals. The building was recognized by CMHC (Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation) for “Innovation in Housing for Seniors” in 1988. If you’re thinking this might be a place you’d like to move into, get in line. There are currently more than 150 people on the wait list.

Architects Sedun + Kanerva Architecture Inc. knew there was a wish for a long-term care floor, so when they designed the original building, they accommodated a potential seventh floor when Suomi-Koti got a licence for long-term care in 1992. The wait list for this floor is controlled by the provincial Local Health Network. When the opportunity arose, Suomi-Koti bought the two small apartment buildings to the east for future expansion.

With the addition of the long-term care floor, there was a need for a staffed kitchen. In the early days, volunteers in the building would do baking and cooking for those who needed a bit of help. Now, that kitchen provides meals for those on the seventh floor, but also for residents in the rest of the building looking for an occasional served meal. 

From street level, you notice that there are offices and businesses – including that of Don Valley West MPP Stephanie Bowman, a pharmacy, dentist, medical offices, hairdresser and vision care – most of which have entrances inside the building as well as onto the street.

Long-time Leasiders may remember Viking Foods on Laird, the business destroyed by a fire a number of years ago. A related business, Milbree-Viking Bakery in Newmarket, comes to Suomi-Koti twice a month on a Friday afternoon with fresh baking. 

The Senior Active Living Centre (SALC) on the lower floors offers many opportunities for social and health activities for residents and the community. According to the website, SALC membership “includes access to our amenities and/or reduced fees for many of our à la carte programs and services. We welcome volunteers to help out in our programs.”

 

About Lorna Krawchuk 179 Articles
Lorna Krawchuk is publisher of Leaside Life. She is actively involved in St. Cuthbert’s Church. Her volunteer activities with the Leaside Property Owners’ Association led to her being elected a Councillor in the Borough of East York for 9 years before amalgamation in 1998. She also held a variety of volunteer leadership positions with the Girl Guides of Canada for over 30 years. Lorna has been a Leasider since 1968.