This month, we celebrate the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Town of Leaside back in 1913. You’ll notice a number of articles in this issue commemorating this auspicious anniversary. So, in the spirit of the occasion, and not wanting to cover the same ground as fellow contributors, I thought I’d remind us all of some lesser-known – and definitely less auspicious – Leaside anniversaries around which there was insufficient hoopla, celebration, or media coverage. Here we go, in no particular order:
• This coming June will mark the 50th anniversary of the maiden “flight” — the word is in quotations for a reason — of Falcon II, in Talbot Park. My Grade 8 classmate, Geoff Elmer, and I tested our homebuilt, full-sized hang glider by running down the hill at the foot of Donegall Drive. Let’s just say our aviation careers did not exactly get off the ground that day.
• This year also marks the 56th anniversary of my first taste of China Food’s famous sweet and sour chicken balls. It kicked off an addiction that endures to this day. In fact, just writing this has triggered a craving I may have to address very soon. Like now.
• It was 49 years ago this summer that the streaking craze came to Leaside. If you were out late on a particularly humid Friday night in August of 1974, you will have witnessed three 14-year-olds running up and down Parkhurst Boulevard naked save for their underwear, which they dutifully wore on their heads to avoid identification. I have no idea who those intrepid Leaside trendsetters were. Not even an inkling. Really.
• This coming October, it will have been 55 years since my very first Leaside house league hockey practice. I arrived at Leaside Memorial Gardens fully dressed in my hockey gear, including my mother’s purple leggings, bearing crookedly applied white tape stripes to look like real hockey socks. I’ve played Canada’s game ever since, and still do.
• Speaking of Leaside Memorial Gardens, it was 57 years ago when I had my first Tadpoles swimming lesson at the pool. That led to many, many Saturday afternoons swimming, goofing around on the low and high diving boards, and playing Red Light Green Light on the sundeck.
• The previous year, 56 years ago, was when Dominic Badali first delivered a box of groceries to our home on the corner of Parkhurst and Donegall. Dom knew where we kept our secret hidden house key and would deliver our grocery order weekly for decades to come.
• It was about 51 years ago when three Grade 7 students unwisely, but quite accurately, threw an apple core at the front door of a house on Cameron Crescent on their way to school one morning. The homeowner was so quick to open the door that our three heroes scrambled to hide, lined up in single file behind the big maple on the home’s front lawn, to avoid detection. A legendary and gutsy performance. Again, no idea who the three gifted but thankfully very skinny young Bessborough students were.
• Forty-eight years ago, I started working at Gyro Motors at the tender age of 15. Over the years, of all the after-school workers who mopped that showroom floor and swept what felt like a 200-car, oil-stained garage, I was definitely… one of them. A couple of years later I started working at Don Verity’s Esso at Bayview and Millwood — a little closer to home.
• Finally, it’s been 25 years since our elder son started school at Northlea, eventually graduating from Leaside High. Our younger son started at Northlea three years later.
There are many more personal Leaside anniversaries I could have included in this humble offering, but I felt compelled to leave them on the cutting room floor. After all, I feel I should act responsibly and not unduly influence the current generation of kids growing up in Leaside. Let them find their own adventures — ill-advised or not — as we did all those years ago in Leaside.
Happy 110th anniversary, Leaside!
A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis grew up in Leaside and is the award-winning writer of eight national bestsellers. His most recent, Operation Angus, is in bookstores. You can also subscribe to his newsletter: https://terryfallis.substack.com.