Neighbours commemorate ‘King of Parklea’

Hugh Hammond, 1924-2013

“I really could not convey how wonderful he was eloquently enough,” wrote Judy Chan to Leaside Life when she asked us to write something about Hugh Hammond. They asked other neighbours to write too. Here are excerpts from their letters.

From Barry Lee and Judy Chan, neighbours for 20 years

Hugh Hammond will be remembered by neighbours as the “King of Parklea”.

His daily walks around the neighbourhood would take twice as long (as normal), as he would always stop to chat or check on seniors and others in the area.

On Parklea Dr. he was our postman, taking care of the mail when someone was away, our garbageman, taking out and putting back our garbage bins, our neighbourhood watch patrol, always watching out for anything unusual.

It was not unusual to see him in our backyard, raking our leaves and trimming the trees. Living in Leaside for close to 50 years, he had certainly seen many changes in the area and really enjoyed living here and sharing his knowledge of the area.

Hugh Hammond was a man with a huge heart and soul and will be fondly remembered and missed.

From Joan Wilson, family

Hugh immigrated to Canada in 1957. He was my mother Helen’s first cousin. He lived with us (the Wilson family) on Soudan Ave. until 1962 when he returned to live on his farm in Ireland, where he was born, Drummeny, Donegal.

Hugh found he could not settle into farm life again and stayed in Ireland for less than two years. He sold his farm and returned to Toronto. He rented two different accommodations on Soudan until he bought his house on Parklea Dr. in 1966. I believe he paid $22,000 for his house.

As you know, Hugh became a well-known fixture in Leaside. He received an East York Citizenship award at one point.

Hugh started working for CN Railways in their freight yards soon after he came to Canada and rejoined CN when he returned to Canada in the 1960s. He retired around 1985.

Hugh didn’t have a lot of education but as you know was very intelligent. He left school after grade 8. He was considered among the very brightest in his country school.

From Anna Hoy, Parklea neighbour

Hugh embraced diversity. He welcomed you regardless of your race, gender, age, or religious orientation.

He had a way of making people feel welcomed and accepted. A dominate trait that defines Hugh is his sense of chivalry.

Although Hugh never married, he did have a special charm with the ladies. His charming personality is hard to forget. His lady friends at the neighbourhood Loblaws often looked out for him.

If he had any vices, he definitely didn’t show them. His life was about connecting with his family, connecting with his neighbours, and connecting with his neighbourhood.