Letters – March 2013

Nice photo but…

That’s an interesting photograph last month of the first airmail delivery in Canada to the Leaside aerodrome. But there’s something about it that doesn’t ring right.

The date in the paper is June 24 and everyone there is dressed for the middle of winter.

William Lennon,
McRae Dr.

December’s The Canadian Aerophilatelist, the quarterly journal of the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society.
December’s The Canadian Aerophilatelist, the quarterly journal of the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society.

The photo on the cover of the February issue was the subject of a question in December’s The Canadian Aerophilatelist, the quarterly journal of the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society. (See at right. Click on image to see PDF.)

I believe that the photo was taken May 6, 1928 for the beginning of airmail service from Rimouski, Quebec, where British ships would offload mail and parcels for Toronto, via Montreal, thus saving a day over rail time.

The Post Office quickly unloaded mailbags from a Fairchild monoplane that Sunday. These packages were probably posed with another plane because the crowds at Leaside aerodrome were milling about the Fairchild.

Barry Countryman,
Sutherland Dr.

I wonder if all the JN4 (“Jenny”) aircraft flying out of the Leaside Aerodrome during WW I in Alan Redway’s article were actually American-made.

In 1916 the British Imperial Munitions Board had founded Canada’s first airplane factory, Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd., in Toronto. It was brillliantly managed by the Canadian industrialist Sir Frank Baillie, and produced Jennies both for the Royal Flying Corps and for export.

By the end of the war CAL was making very large planes under contract to the U.S. government.

I imagine the skies over Leaside were constantly noisy thanks to its Aerodrome.

As I listen to the airplanes flying over us these days (and nights), I find them less obtrusive than the helicopters going into Sunnybrook, the trains rumbling through the ravine, and the ambulance and police sirens that go off at all hours.

I can understand that other Leasiders might be more disturbed, but wonder about the many thousands of homeowners in the residential areas between our town and Pearson who must hear substantially more noise. Surely our little community is comparatively fortunate, as it is in so many other ways.

Suppose the Leaside Aerodrome had evolved into Toronto’s principal airport . …

Michael Bliss,
Bessborough Dr.

In 1917 there were only two airfields in Toronto, Leaside and Long Branch, both built and operated by the British Royal Flying Corps.

In December 1917 the legendary British secret agent Sidney Reilly trained in Toronto with the Royal Flying Corps at both Leaside and Long Branch airfields, before being sent to Russia where he was instrumental in the 1918 plot to overthrow the recently established Bolshevik government of Lenin and Trotsky.

Reilly, born in Tsarist Russia as Salomon Rosenblum, is the subject of many books and the relatively recent TV series on the History channel: Reilly: Ace of Spies. In the TV series he describes himself as Captain Sidney Reilly of the Royal Canadian Flying Corps.

The author of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming served in the British Intelligence Service during World War II where he had access to Reilly’s files. Fleming says his hero, Agent 007, James Bond, was inspired by the exploits of Sidney Reilly.

Some say that Fleming, who also spent time in Toronto during World War II at the RCAF base on Avenue Rd. just north of Eglinton, got the name of his hero from St. James-Bond United Church, which then stood on Avenue Rd. almost directly across from the RCAF base.

Alan Redway,
McRae Dr.

Loblaws date

I have confirmed with the staff that Loblaws at Bayview and Mooreopened in 1951.

The opening was delayed because of a steel strike so the roof structure was finished with laminated wood beams. I know that as a fact because I worked there during the summer of 1952, my first paying job, for 40 cents an hour.

The present staff tell me that they don’t get much more than that today.

Before this store opened Loblaws had a smaller store on our side of Bayview just north of where the Dollarama store is today. Loblaws had another small store on the south west corner of Eglinton and Laird.

The Dollarama store was originally a Kresges and the present Shoppers Drug Mart was originally the Bayview Theatre where Mel Lastman sometimes appeared in his younger days giving a yo-yo demonstration between the feature movie and the second feature at the Saturday afternoon matinees.

Alan Redway,
McRae Dr.


I am not sure what magic fairy waved its wand and I started getting Leaside Life on my doorstep, but I am eternally glad for the happening. It is without a doubt one of the best local papers I have ever read and with a very comprehensive and professional website to its credit also.

I would like to add my reaction to comments in the December and January editions regarding air traffic noise.

I happen to live right in the eye of the storm — Brentcliffe and Eglinton — and I can assure you that there are times I think the plane must be flying right through my living room.

That is a bit of an exaggeration of course, but when my windows start to vibrate and I hear the scream of the jet passing overhead, I don’t have to be “listening for the sound of the plane,” it takes over any other thought or conversation I may be having.

This is winter with doors and windows closed and the furnace running. I can’t help but shudder at what the summer will bring when I want to enjoy having my windows open or to sit on my deck and enjoy the air.

I don’t think the idea, as was suggested in Mr. Ashworth’s letter, was to have the planes fly over a lesser neighbourhood, rather to have them fly north over the Don Valley Parkway and turn left over the 401, where there may be less residential areas to be disturbed.

I would be very happy to host a deck party in the summer and invite Will Ashworth and  E.J. Ward over for coffee and gentle conversation, if they can hear over the din of the planes flying overhead, sometimes three within five minutes, and always frequently/constantly, well into the late hours of the night.

I had occasion just today to be at Parkhurst and Bayview and it is quite far from my area and the planes are definitely higher and less noisy. Depending where on Broadway someone may live, it also can be far from the hub flight path and again less noisy.

To suggest that one may be selfish or elitist is quite judgmental and very far from the truth.

Margo Holland,
Thursfield Cres.