Talbot didn’t leave the only trademark

We have said that the character of Leaside was established by the houses constructed in the building boom of the late 1930s through the 1940s.

And we tend to think mostly of Henry Howard Talbot, the iconic developer and mayor of Leaside who was responsible for the Talbot apartments on Bayview (Kelvingrove, Glenleven and Strathavon) and the row of 10 quadraplexes on Bayview south of Eglinton, as well as many single family homes in the area.

All his homes were designed in the popular Georgian and Tudor Revival styles.

However that period is also associated with several other Leaside builders, including the Brockingtons (Arthur William and his sons, George and Horace), A.B. Cairns, and Ron Balsdon, who did not all use the same styles as H. H. Talbot.

We are fortunate that Linda Brockington McCarthy, the granddaughter of A. W. Brockington, daughter of Horace Brockington, and niece of George Brockington, became aware of the Leaside 100 archival exhibit and wanted us to know the story of her builder family.

In 1906 her grandfather, Arthur William Brockington, immigrated to Canada from London, England. His train ticket got him as far as Kearney, just north of Huntsville, where he married, built houses, and maintained the sawmill. In the late 1920s he moved his family to Toronto, building homes and living on Merton St.

His sons, George and Horace, once they graduated from high school, worked full-time for their father, buying lots and building homes in Leaside. Eventually George and Horace married and struck out on their own, designing and building homes in Leaside.

In 1938, Horace Brockington was building homes on Donegall, and their first family home at 73 Fleming Cr., overlooking Walmsley Brook, a swamp at the time (which later became Howard Talbot Park).

Horace and Phyllis designed their first home in the Moderne Odeon style after seeing and photographing buildings and houses in that style while on their honeymoon in England in 1937. They moved in on Christmas Eve (of 1938 most likely).

Linda’s mother told her they went down into the swamp to cut down their first Christmas tree.

They also built 31 and 33 Airdrie Rd., 31 Sutherland Dr. and 8 Heather Rd., where Linda lived as an infant. Linda’s mother told her there was a fortune in war bonds hidden behind the panelling at 8 Heather. They forgot about them until after they had sold the house and moved to 4 Donlea Dr.!  Wonder if they are really there?

In 1948 Linda’s parents purchased the lots along the north side of Donlea  from Eglinton to Hanna Rd. That year they completed 4 Donlea, which became their long term family home, and where her parents lived for the rest of their lives.

Like 73 Fleming, 4 Donlea also has some Art Moderne influences (low slung and the curving windows).

Horace and Phyllis Brockington built three homes a year and sold them for approximately $5,000 each, using that money to build three more. They also purchased lots 297 to 309 Bessborough Dr. north of Divadale in North Leaside, and designed and built a number of homes there.

Altogether, she believes her parents designed and built 42 homes in Leaside.

Linda’s grandfather, A. W. Brockington, continued building houses, including the ones on Parkhurst Blvd. near Fleming in the Tudor style, with leaded glass windows and a lot of wood panelling inside. He built his own house at the corner of Parkhurst and Fleming, where he lived for the rest of his life.

A.W. never drove, but when his wife got her driver’s licence and purchased a pale green 1946 Studebaker coupe, he added a garage wing on the east side of the house.

A.W. and his sons also purchased the lots at 878, 876 and 874 Millwood Rd. Arthur and George Brockington built low-rise apartment buildings.

Linda’s father rented his lot to a billboard company for many years and eventually built a small apartment building on the site.

George’s sons Raymond and Glen continued in the family business. Although Horace’s sons chose different careers, his daughter Linda carries on the tradition acting as a Committee of Adjustment Consultant to the City of Toronto.

Layers with a video:

The Layers of Leaside archival exhibit will be on display at the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site July 3-14 during Museum open hours.

The opening reception on Thursday, July 4, 5.30-7.30 p.m., 67 Pottery Rd.,will be the first public screening of a video slide show,  Leaside – Then and Now, by Anna-Louise Richardson, Tree of Life Video.

About Geoff Kettel 221 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.