Leaside is about to discover its heritage in a big way. Wait! Maybe you’re thinking that Leaside has always celebrated its unique place in Toronto, with a local history linked inextricably to the development of the railroads and later incorporated as the Town of Leaside on April 23, 1913, with 43 residents.
But there is so much more to know about this place that some 14,000 people now call home. The newly formed Leaside Heritage Project aims to preserve, celebrate and communicate Leaside’s legacy. We can thank tireless Leasider, business owner and community activist Ann Brown for launching this project.
“Leaside has such an amazing story to tell,” says Ann in the introductory feature in this issue. “Over the decades, the area has been a railway town, an automotive hub, a munitions producer during the First World War and home to one of Canada’s earliest airfields. We also played a huge role in providing electricity to Toronto and Ontario through the Leaside Transformer Station – one of the largest power projects of its kind when completed in 1928.”
Oh, and did we mention that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent his childhood here, and award-winning authors Margaret Atwood and Terry Fallis attended Leaside High? So, Leaside’s heritage isn’t only preserved in stone but living and growing.
The birth of the Leaside Heritage Project comes at the same time as we are bidding farewell to a Bayview institution in itself – Pagnello’s – closing after more than a half century of introducing Leasiders and others to the antiques and wonders of bygone eras.
These stories in our November issue strike a special chord in me. I grew up in a house filled with antiques. My mother was an avid collector and lover of heritage. For her, each “new” antique was like a new child, cared for, caressed…and researched. Along with the antiques themselves, she boasted a formidable library of books and magazines devoted to objets d’art and heritage architecture.
Why celebrate the past, some might ask? When it’s as rich as Leaside’s, it would be more fitting to ask: why not celebrate the past and keep it alive in the present?