Like many streets in Leaside, Hanna Road was named for a railway executive – David Blyth Hanna.
David Blyth Hanna of Thornliebank, Scotland (1858-1938) held various positions in railway companies in Leaside and across Canada.
The railway worker first came to Canada at the age of 24 to work with the Grand Trunk Railway Company’s Manitoba department as an accountant. He was later put in charge of 130 miles of track that were to serve as an immigration route for settlers arriving there.
On one occasion, when the train hit a cow, David and his men loaded the carcass into the baggage car of their train and butchered it there. When the train reached the end of the line, he sold the meat to a contractor and shared half the proceeds with the farmer who had owned the cow.
When the railway’s head office moved to Toronto, it was renamed the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway and David became vice-president. He resigned, though, when the Canadian government bought the CNO Railway in 1918 and incorporated it into the Canadian National Railways.
Four years later, Hanna was appointed chairman of Ontario’s new Liquor Board but had to resign from that position in 1928 when his health began to fail. He died 10 years later on December 1, 1938, just shy of his 80th birthday, in his home on Cluny Avenue in Rosedale. After a private service there, David Blyth Hanna was buried in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
This man, who became such an important figure in Leaside, is also honoured by having the town of Hanna, Alberta named after him.
Jeanne Hopkins worked in the Canadiana department of the North York Public Library for 27 years. She is the author of many articles and five books of local history.