Memories of Leaside from the early 1940s

In 1963, to help commemorate Leaside’s 50th anniversary, Arthur Donahue, founder and editor of The Leaside Advertiser, wrote an article for the newspaper’s September 12th issue describing what Leaside was like when he and his wife first moved here in 1941.

Photo of Arthur Donahue. Arthur Donahue (1895-1977) founded The Leaside Advertiser in 1942 and operated it for the next 30 years. He was also a Leaside Alderman in the early 1950s and the first president of the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club.
Arthur Donahue (1895-1977) founded The Leaside Advertiser in 1942 and operated it for the next 30 years. He was also a Leaside Alderman in the early 1950s and the first president of the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club.

Here are some excerpts:

An early corn roast: “The first night my wife and I were in Leaside, we were invited to a corn roast being held under the auspices of the Bayview Businessmen’s Association. It was to take place in a field just south of Eglinton and near the intersection of Rumsey Road and Eglinton. We had a great deal of difficulty getting there due to the fact that a small stream and heavy bush crossed from what is now Sunnybrook Shopping Centre and ended at the intersections of Randolph Road and McRae Drive….”

Eglinton Ave. and North Leaside: “At that time, Eglinton Ave. was a muddy back concession road. There were one or two houses on the hill behind the present Sunnybrook Shopping Centre. No building was done north of Eglinton until after the street was paved. We bought one of the very early bungalow type homes built by the late Robert Clark. It was at the corner of Donald Ave. (later Donlea Drive) and Sutherland. At the time, the area was very poorly lighted, and Mrs. Donahue was often nervous and did not want to be left alone. There were only two other houses occupied in this area.”

Building boom in South Leaside: “New homes were appearing like mushrooms. Much of the area east of Airdrie and south of Millwood Rd. was in course of construction and it was a Sunday diversion to walk around and visit the newly built homes which were open for inspection. Bungalows at that time were being sold for about $5,000; semi-detached homes about the same, and square-plan houses were sold at prices ranging from $7,000 to $8,000.”

Leaside town council meetings: Before the Leaside Municipal Building was built, Leaside town council meetings were held in “a room in Bessborough school…. Politics, however, have changed somewhat. I can remember when meetings were attended by our police in case discussion erupted in violence.”

Serena Gundy Park: “East of Sutherland Drive, north of Eglinton, was a field, and was the home of hundreds of birds. Many people were in the habit of taking walks through the field and down into what was known at that time as the Gundy Estate…. The Gundy Estate was privately owned when I first came to Leaside. It was a lovely area, and when the Leaside Conservation Association was organized… the object was to try and secure it for a town park. Today [1963], through their efforts and those of others interested in conservation, it is a metro park, named in honour of one of the original Gundy Family, Serena Gundy.”

This article was guest contributed by Ted DeWelles, Leaside Heritage Preservation Society.