Without the benefit of a family tree, it is difficult to go back the generations required to the original John Lea Sr., who first farmed land in what we now call Leaside. One progression is John Lea Sr., to John Lea Jr., to James, to Edgar and to Tony.
Tony Lea now lives in Leaside, since 2002, after he and his wife, Joanne, looking for a house in central Toronto, found one on Sutherland Dr. that turned out to be almost across the street from where his father was born.
Edgar was born at 201 Sutherland Dr. in 1919. His parents, James and Anna Lea, built the house around 1909 and subsequently moved to Forest Hill.
Tony doesn’t make a big thing about belonging to the Lea family, but he is pleased that his own son and family, including a grandson born in 2011, will also soon be living in their family’s original neighbourhood.
But where he is living now is not really the most interesting part of Tony’s story. He is a man of many interests and talents.
At 16, he was part of a group of Canadian Scouts at a Jamboree in Marathon, Greece. He then ran Scout camps in Haliburton. As a young man, he was the camp director of Bayview Glen Day Camp, supervising 1,380 children and 400 staff.
He acquired his BA, MA and PhD all at the University of Toronto, in geography. He started off as a traditional academic, first at the University of Minnesota and then back at U of T for several years.
His specialty is statistical mathematical models and he is now both an adjunct professor at U of T and Ryerson, but also chief methodologist and senior vice-president at Environics Analytics, and known as “the father of geo-
As he says, in a privacy-friendly environment, you can’t sell lists of who lives where, but you can do models that show retailers, banks and other businesses how to optimize their location.
One piece of Leaside history in Tony’s possession is the very heavy, 13-foot long sign that says “Leaside” he obtained when the CP rail station on Village Station Rd. was no longer in use.
And what of Tony’s brothers and sisters? There were five in the family. Edgar (Ted), the oldest, lives in Hoggs Hollow. Younger brother Don lives in Alberta, younger sister Patricia lives in North Bay and his youngest sister, Frances, has died.
Sometimes when you read through lists, something catches your eye. In my case, the name A.M. Laverty jumped out at me. It turns out that Tony’s aunt Frances, who is now 101 years old, married “Padre” Laverty, well-known at Queen’s University as The Padre for many years.