Remembering Alan Redway

Alan with the Honourable Barbara McDougall at Rolph Road School’s 75th anniversary in 2014. Photo By Kurt Grantham.
Alan with the Honourable Barbara McDougall at Rolph Road School’s 75th anniversary in 2014. Photo By Kurt Grantham.

When Alan Redway died in early January, his family said that he did not wish a public announcement and “hoped that those close to him would understand and respect his wishes.” While respecting his wishes, at the same time we do want to acknowledge Alan’s large presence, especially in the Leaside he loved.

Alan grew up in Leaside, starting with attending the new Rolph Road Public School. Then, armed with a degree in commerce and finance from the University of Toronto and a law degree from Osgoode, he set up shop as a lawyer. Upon marrying Louise, the couple first lived in Thorncliffe and then bought a house in Leaside where they raised their daughters, Kim and Andrea. 

He spent a decade, from 1972 to 1982, on the Borough of East York Council, six of those as Mayor and a member of the Metropolitan Toronto Council. Memorable from that time was his establishment of East York Day – a celebration in food, dance and story of the people from many countries moving into the community – which then became the East York Mayor’s Committee on Race Relations. He also spearheaded the creation of an East York flag, which you can still see in its logo form on selected street signs in the neighbourhood, and even an occasional flag.

Alan was elected as the Progressive Conservative member of parliament for York East in 1984 and from 1989 to 1991 served as Minister of State (Housing) to become the Hon. Alan Redway.

After leaving Ottawa, he continued to work for those in need of assistance, serving on a number of social justice boards and committees, including the Daily Bread Food Bank, Flemingdon Legal Services, All Saints Church Community Centre, to name a few. He championed public investment in housing, and was co-chair for the community group “Putting Housing Back on the Public Agenda,” calling for provincial government investment in supportive housing, in 2000.

Alan Redway, centre.
Alan Redway, centre.

Alan was a long-time member of the Leaside Lions Club, and in recent years, an active member of the executive of the East York Historical Society.

In practical terms, he spent many years volunteering regularly with the Out of the Cold program at Eastminster United Church. Alan was a man who strongly believed that assistance to those in need was something to support. These volunteer efforts led to his being the recipient of the East York Agnes Macphail Award in 2013.

In 1989, when the provincial government broached the amalgamation of the six metropolitan Toronto separate municipalities into the City of Toronto, Alan was named the honourary chair of Team East York, fighting valiantly against this plan. When amalgamation did happen in spite of massive municipal protests, Alan was spurred to write his first book, Governing Toronto: Bringing Back the City That Worked, published in 2014. He continued to advocate for amalgamation’s reversal.

There already were several books about the history of Leaside, most recently Jane Pitfield’s Leaside, in 1999, but there was nothing comparable for what was originally the Township of East York and then the borough. Alan called on his prodigious memory and great files to right this wrong, with East York 1924-1997: Toronto’s Garden of Eden, published in 2018.

If you’ve been a faithful reader of Leaside Life, you will have seen Alan’s name as author of 30 articles. You might want to check the archives on our website, www.leasidelife.com, to marvel at the range of topics he covered. This past June, Alan was named to the East York Hall of Fame. He is missed.

About Lorna Krawchuk 174 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.