With the physical character of Leaside under continuing attack from high rise condominium apartment developers these days, it is reassuring to drive along Moore Ave. to see the low rise Crestview Apartments, a complex comparable to the low rise Talbot apartments on Bayview Ave. Both are part of what defines the physical character of the Leaside community.
The Crestview Apartments were built on a 10-acre site then located across the road from the Town of Leaside at the east end of Bennington Heights in the Township of East York. Before Lawrence Construction purchased the property in 1949, it assured itself that sewers and water-mains had been installed to properly service the site. Hopefully the city of Toronto has assured itself that adequate services including schools are in place before it has even considered any of the recent condo proposals.
The Crestview complex was built by Lawrence Construction, which is the name I knew first as a child and in later years. At some point it became Crestview Apartments.
It consists of 22 separate buildings located at 30 to 75 Leacrest Rd. and 57 to 93 Mallory Cres. with 8 or 10 units in each building totalling 180 large and well maintained suites in an equally well maintained parklike setting.
Both Lawrence Construction and Crestview were owned by the Grant family, and still are, who recently donated a considerable sum of money towards the construction of the new rink at Leaside Memorial Community Gardens that has now been named the Bert F. Grant rink.
When you call the Crestview head office and ask to speak to Bert Grant, the receptionist asks, which one?
There are two Bert Grants active with the company. At one time there were four of them.
Bert Howard Grant, a carpenter, immigrated to Canada with only a box of tools to his name. In the 1920s he started building houses, then commercial stores and eventually an apartment complex at Yonge and Lawrence.
His son Bert Fredrick Grant took up where his father left off. It was he who built the Crestview Apartments together with all the single family homes on both sides of Leacrest Rd. (then known as Talbot Rd.), including the house at the corner of Rolph Rd., 101 Leacrest Rd.
That house was originally located partly in Leaside and partly in East York. Long-time residents may recall that this was the home for many years of the late Margaret Hunt, a Leaside icon and community activist.
Today Bert Fredrick’s son Bert Alexander Grant is the chairman of the board of directors while his grandson Bert Cameron Grant is the president and CEO of the companies.
Some will also remember the battle of Mallory Cres. which took place next door to the Crestview Apartments in 1966-67, when high rise apartment developers Cadillac and Belmont Construction applied to East York council to rezone 10½ acres of land south of Moore and east of Bayview, including the Mallory Cres. road allowance, to permit the construction of three 22-storey and two 29-storey apartment buildings.
That proposal would have replaced 46 single family homes, all of which are still there today, along with 1,382 apartment units. Residents of both Leaside and East York, which merged in 1967, went to war over that and won the battle at the Ontario Municipal Board. In those days the OMB sided with residents, today it sides with developers.
The Crestview Apartments property was not part of that rezoning proposal. And today, it is most reassuring to hear CEO Bert C. Grant say that Crestview has no plan to redevelop its site. Reassuring that is until he adds that developers are always calling him