The Town of Leaside was laid out in 1912 as a railway town by entrepreneurs Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann, owners of the Canadian Northern Railway. They had purchased 1,000 acres of land between Bayview Ave. and Leslie St. north of the airfield and hired Montreal landscape architect Frederick Gage Todd to lay out and subdivide this area. Not too surprisingly, Mackenzie and Mann named the new streets for friends, relatives, well-known politicians, and others they admired.
As a case in point, Macnaughton Rd., running north from Millwood and east of Bayview, was named after Sarah Broom Macnaughton (1864-1916) in payment for her writing services. The Scottish novelist often wrote glowing articles about Sir William Mackenzie and his “puffed” achievements. These “puff” pieces were published in London, England to entice settlers to the new town of Leaside in the hopes they would help build Mackenzie’s and Mann’s railways.
Sarah MacNaughton had served as a volunteer with the British Red Cross during the Boer War and, at a young age, was sent to Russia and Armenia. She also travelled to South America, the United States, Palestine, Egypt, India, Burma and many parts of Canada. It was her exposure to illness while in Armenia that ultimately led to her death.
Her book, My Canadian Memories was finished posthumously in 1920 by her friend Beatrice Home.
Jeanne Hopkins spent most of her life in the historic Henry Farm community of North York. She realized her passion for local history in the Canadiana department of the North York Public Library, where she worked for 27 years. She is the author of many articles and five books of local history.