Thank you, Leaside, for the great life and memories that continue to this day.
I was born in 1939 and brought home to a new house at 212 Sutherland Dr. Eventually I moved to Donegall Dr. near Bayview. By the age of eight I was living at Rumsey Rd. and McRae and began realizing the good life that my family was experiencing.
Rumsey Rd. was not yet paved and I have many memories of the breadman delivering his goods by horse and buggy. He would give me stale bread that I would squeeze and roll until it softened, then sell for five cents per loaf.
The Silverwood milkman also used a horse and buggy and in the cold winters the glass bottles had cream on top and milk in the bottom. I remember like it was yesterday the horse knowing exactly which house to stop at.
Good times were had playing ball hockey and attending the spring circus and fair at Trace Manes Park. At the top end of the park they decided to build a library, but we as kids wanted a swimming pool, so we created some havoc by placing stickers on windows of the construction equipment saying, “We want a swimming pool not a stupid library.”
We had neighbours such as Jocko Thomas, the Toronto Star police reporter who later broadcast police reports for CFRB radio. Mr. Miller, who owned the original Miller Paving company, lived behind us. Ron Lamport’s uncle was mayor of Toronto and a good friend of our family. Teddy Robinson and I were inseparable buddies. He lived five doors down on McRae. The Lowrey family are good friends and their son still operates Robert Lowrey Piano Experts at Brentcliffe and Eglinton.
I always accompanied my mother to the big Loblaws at Eglinton and Laird, where nowadays the Great Canadian Bagel resides. It had at least 30 parking spots.
I hung out with Bobby Hamill, who’s father Red Hamill played hockey for the Chicago Black Hawks, and Blair Coles, who lived on Thursfield Cres. Together we swung over the Don River on ropes hanging from trees and explored caves. I re-met Blair years later and we have been friends ever since.
I had a buddy whose father was an officer of the law and drove a police motorcycle with a sidecar. We would sit in it while it was parked in his garage and smoke cigarettes. It was surprising that we did not burn the garage down.
I was a student who did very poorly at Bessborough. Before vocational education they offered an opportunity class for dummies or those that disrupted the flow of a classroom. I was ridiculed and bullied but I did enjoy the time spent away from the normal class.
My brother Bill and I sold The Star and Telegram newspapers to the employees leaving their daily jobs at Sangamo Electric and Canada Wire and Cable. We made big bucks even though the papers sold for only 3 cents each. I spent my money buying Jawbreakers and candy at the famous Clair’s Cigar Store on Bayview. Then we would go to the Bayview movie theatre on Saturdays.
Bayview was the high-end shopping area in Toronto back in the day.
Leonards Family Restaurant on Laird is an eatery that I frequent. It used to be called The Rock Bar, a true ‘50s restaurant that existed well before such restaurants were considered fashionable. Rock ‘n’ roll and hard rock were not even heard of yet.
We often played around the Rogers-Majestic radio and TV manufacturing plant at Brentcliffe and Eglinton, where there are now Marshalls and Staples stores. I now know that the Rogers in Rogers-Majestic was the original Rogers Cable grandfather. Eglinton Ave. ended at Brentcliffe and did not go over the Don River.
As kids we would head over to Thorncliffe, which was Toronto’s horse racetrack. We would sneak under the fence.
My father, who owned hotels and restaurants, packed us all up one day and moved us to the Patty House Hotel in Coboconk. Americans in those days would come to fish for pickerel.
As kids we would put old bedsprings into the rushing water to snag the colourful lures that weren’t available in Canada. At night we would dive and retrieve them and sell them back to the Americans. You can see that my entrepreneurship started early, although slightly in the wrong direction.
My father operated the hotel in the late ‘40s. He and his brother also owned the famous Rockcliffe Hotel in Minden, Ontario. It’s interesting that at the age of 10, I would get a flashlight and go into the beverage room on a Sunday morning and find up to $10 in change on the floor. In those days a family lived on approximately $20 a week.
After a few years we moved back to Leaside and then we were off again to a hotel in the town of Haliburton. As a teenager I went to Haliburton High School, married and then moved to Thorncliffe Park, a new and excellent location.
While living at Thorncliffe I was a teacher at Castle Frank High School. Later, I travelled the world working for the Dow Chemical company. But I always returned to Leaside not only to live but to operate my cleaning supply business which I have successfully run for many years.
I guess Leaside gets in your blood and that’s a good thing. At least it has been for my family and I, and I hope it is for you too.