Photographer, archivist, cyclist, but most of all, Leasider

Photo by Rebekah Sutherland.
Photo by Rebekah Sutherland.

How does someone end up living in Leaside? 

For photographer Russell Sutherland, it was a meeting with his wife-to-be, Alison, at a summer camp. While she and her family lived in Don Mills, they attended Leaside Bible Chapel on Eglinton Avenue between Sutherland and Laird. So, after university and a job stint at Chalk River as a chemical engineer, and with Russell now working at the University of Toronto in what has now become IT, Leaside seemed a better place to settle than the far edges of Scarborough. That way they could be both close to what was now their church as well as a reasonable commute to work.

Russell grew up in Guildwood Village in the 60s. As a student at Laurier Collegiate, he was fascinated with aircraft but also interested in photography. It was “art and science all mixed up,” and he also enjoyed doing his own developing. He still recalls the Saturdays he would make his way to the airport on the TTC, and the particular day he was able to photograph the arrival of Air Canada’s first 747. Those early Guildwood days were also the start of his life-long enjoyment of cycling. As he says, “in Guildwood, cycling was the only thing to do.”

Most days his commute to U of T is by bike, with side trips coming or going. Always with him is his camera. From the days of his first SLR, and then to using his phone, to now, with his most recent acquisition – a Sony Alpha 7 111, a full-frame mirrorless camera with a few telephoto lenses – he’s able to indulge his interests with favourite jaunts to the Leslie Street spit, the area behind Lincoln Electric, or the bird feeders in Serena Gundy Park. 

Russell also takes the time to sort, index and archive his photos. He has become the archivist for Laurier Collegiate, as well as for his family. Keep an eye out for his photos on his personal Facebook site or some of the Leaside group sites.

Russell held many leadership positions at Leaside Bible Chapel over the years, only stepping down as an elder when he turned 60 to allow younger leaders to have their chance. Now, with the church transitioned to become Trinity Grace Church and having “a bit of a resurgence,” he and Alison remain involved. 

Their home is on a corner lot at Donlea and Don Avon. One year, an unrequested election sign appeared on their lawn, and not for a party they had been thinking of supporting. But rather than take down the offending sign, Russell promptly contacted each of the offices of the candidates running, saying “I’m going to get a sign for every candidate, and get people out to vote.”

About Lorna Krawchuk 177 Articles
Lorna Krawchuk is publisher of Leaside Life. She is actively involved in St. Cuthbert’s Church. Her volunteer activities with the Leaside Property Owners’ Association led to her being elected a Councillor in the Borough of East York for 9 years before amalgamation in 1998. She also held a variety of volunteer leadership positions with the Girl Guides of Canada for over 30 years. Lorna has been a Leasider since 1968.