Randolph and McRae – two wonderful and important streets in Leaside. And likely named in honour of a railway executive in true Leaside fashion.
When the Canadian Northern Railway built a line around the top of the city of Toronto for industrial and residential development more than a century ago, the residential area was laid out and planned for the workers and executives with the Canadian Northern Ontario Company, like William Mackenzie and Donald Mann, knighted for their work in designing and developing the Town of Leaside. The two had laid out land north and south of Eglinton Avenue between Bayview Avenue and the Don River and had chosen what was then farmland because it was flat farmland. Most of the streets, laid out in 1912, were named for workers and executives in what would become the Village, then Town of Leaside.
They hired town and landscape architect Frederick Todd to create a model of a “new Rosedale” with curving streets and tall trees, keeping as many as possible for their workers and executives. Randolph Road and McRae Drive are two of these new streets, named for the company’s executives – or just one executive – who worked for the Canadian National Railway company.
Jane Pitfield’s authoritative book Leaside, suggests that McRae may have been named for Prairies tycoon Alexander D. McRae. But more likely both Randolph and McRae were named for Randolph McRae, a former official in the CNR land department who became Leaside’s first mayor.
Jeanne Hopkins spent most of her life in the historic Henry Farm community of North York. She realized her passion for local history in the Canadiana department of the North York Public Library, where she worked for 27 years. She is the author of many articles and five books of local history.