Driving ‘home’ to church in Leaside

Avril & Ken Cude
Avril & Ken Cude

Avril Cude (Oglesby) left Leaside in 1966 at age 20 when she and her new husband Ken moved to Etobicoke to be closer to his high school teaching job.

Their address over the years has changed but their weekly drive “home” to Leaside to attend Sunday services at St. Augustine’s has not.

Avril Cude’s been a part of St. Augustine’s since its beginning. She and her husband have been tempted to move back to Leaside several times, but are happy in the west end.

Her children with their families still attend the church and although they too do not live in Leaside and never have, Cude’s grandchildren are her family’s fifth generation to attend St Augustine’s and call it home.

“I guess we could have moved to another parish near our homes but it has never really been a consideration,” says Cude. “It [St. Augustine’s] is home. I love it there. They are my family. Why would you leave your family?

“My parents and I moved to Leaside (Parklea Dr.) in 1946. I was 2 years old. We immediately became part of St. Augustine’s.

“My mother and father were active in the choir and Sunday school. Dad was in the men’s club as well.

“During my teen years we had a very active AYPA (Anglican Young People’s Association) and we enjoyed the fellowship and activities that teens love – dances at the church and  conference weekends away together. There were over 20 in the group while I was there. Lots of fun.

“One of our younger members who grew up in the parish, Barry Curtis, became an ordained Anglican minister and eventually became the Bishop of Calgary and Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land.

“Also for many years a faithful parishioner was William (Bill) Howland, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario.

“Classically trained singer Marc Dubois grew up in the parish and became our choir director for several years and treated us to his wonderful voice regularly.

“We moved to Sharron Dr. when I was 7 years old and that is the address from which I was married at age 20.

“Canon Newman Bracken was the rock of the parish for over 30 years. A warm, loving man whose life’s work was St. Augustine’s.

“I remember his frequent unannounced visits to our home (and many other’s homes) usually around dinner hour. He would come and sit at our dinner table and enjoy a cup of tea while we would all chat.

“The topics were sometimes specific but usually very generalized. He connected with us. He did that with all the parishioners. He loved us and we loved him.”

Rector John Hill followed Bracken at the church and spent many years intertwined with Cude’s family, including officiating at several of her children’s weddings and her oldest grandson’s baptism.

“I most vividly remember the basement of the church, which was the first part of the building built at Broadway and Bayview. The meeting hall in the basement was our worship space with the altar on the stage and stairs leading up to it at the front of the stage (they are still there).

“It was also our socializing area. Chairs were used rather than pews. Once the money was raised to put the top on the church and it was built the basement became the socializing space. A few years later the Sunday school meeting room wing was built on the north side of the church.”

The church came full circle years later when the pews were removed in favour of portable chairs that provided greater flexibility in terms of seating arrangements.