Must you live here to be a Leasider?

Lynne GriffinThe first thing actress Lynne Griffin did when she returned to Leaside from living and working in Hollywood for 12 years was to kiss the ground.

“I felt so liberated,” she says, “I realized that rather than have to jump in a car I could walk from my wee house on Cleveland St. to all the places that I love in the neighbourhood.”

These destinations include the shops on Bayview such as The Elegant Garage Sale, and Chai restaurant, where she and her husband Sean were regulars before it closed this year.

Still in the same house, just west of Bayview, on the North Toronto side, Griffin enjoys a close proximity to the Leaside Memorial Gardens, the Leaside Library, and a local knitting club, She is such a fan of the handicraft that she has developed a Facebook page in tribute to it, On warm summer evenings, she and Sean watch baseball games at Trace Manes Park.

All that makes her feel like a Leasider.

Each spring she attends the Awesome  rummage sale at Leaside United Church, This year she purchased wind chimes for $4, and some baked goods, including her usual favourite, date squares.

One of her best memories is of George Hurst, former president of the local Rotary Club, delivering to her house a couch she had bought, even removing two doors to get it into her living room.

“That’s the kind of service you won’t get in most places,” she says, “and certainly not for free!”

Although born in Willowdale, Griffin moved close to Leaside at a young age, Her mother Kay, an actress, ran a talent agency,

One of Griffin’s earliest performances was starring in George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man at the Bayview Playhouse, that subsequently became Bruno’s (“I figured out that either the stage or my dressing room became the meat counter.”) and now Shoppers Drug Mart.

There were numerous television roles in the early 1970s, as well as appearances in Shakespearean plays, and at the Stratford Festival. Then came film roles and Hollywood.

Ultimately, as exciting as hobnobbing with the likes of Steven Spielberg and Richard Dreyfus might have been, Griffin yearned to return to Canada, and Leaside in particular,  Today, she and Sean perform in many fringe theatre productions in and around Toronto, recently concluding a run in a play called Vinegar Tom,

At this year’s Leaside Garden Society Plant Sale at Trace Manes, Griffin bought velvety burgundy primroses and delphinium. Likening them to her career, she is thrilled that these perennials will continue to bloom for years to come.

And she knows she’ll find inner peace in Leaside, “There’s a small town feeling to the neighbourhood that doesn’t exist in any other big city that I know of,” she says, “It renews my spirit.”