Two sisters remember life in the old Leaside

A creek at the bottom of Cameron Cres.

by Marjorie Shepherd

I was born in 1930. We went to Bessborough public school up to grade 8 and then to Rolph Road school where we had two years of high school. It was a regular grade 1-8 school but the top floor was used for high school then.

The Birds, my grandparents Cora and William, lived on Sutherland Dr. and I can remember walking down to see them through very green and open spaces.

At the time Canada Wire and Cable encouraged young families to live in Leaside and we all felt a great sense of community because of this.

My father, Gilbert Bird, was very involved with the town – he was the first fire chief and also Leaside United Church was first held in our home on Cameron Cres., where hopeful parents got together and with lots of enthusiasm started a place of worship.

I can remember Bell’s hill at the foot of Cameron Cres. The old Bell’s house was at the bottom of our toboggan and sleigh hill and there was a creek at the bottom. We used to say that the old Bell’s house was haunted.

During the war we grew vegetables at a Victory Garden at the very end of Bayview, past Poque’s Riding School.

Leaside was and still is one of the best places to live and I feel very happy that I was so fortunate to live there.

A factory whistle announced noon

by Norah Bird Sheppard

A sense of place: that was in essence the feeling we all felt living in Leaside.

Walking from the closest TTC bus stop, at Manor Rd. and Cleveland Dr., I remember that there was a decided difference when I crossed Bayview Ave.

This was our town.

In the spring, we would often walk up Bayview north of Eglinton, then a secluded dirt road, to Sunnybrook Park, a wonderful place for picnics.

Bayview was the main shopping place, but sometimes our family would go “over to the Danforth” (no viaduct then) or “down to Eaton’s”.

Daily activities in the town were punctuated by the noon-time factory whistle from Canada Wire and Cable, but the streets were usually much quieter then with fewer cars. Even horse-drawn bread and milk wagons were used in the ‘30s and early ‘40s.

However, when the fire alarm sounded, that meant action! The volunteer brigade was made up of enthusiastic and dedicated local residents. Their job, though usually tedious, at times required great courage and much hard work.

Our Dad wore his white fire chief hat proudly.

Those were long ago days, more than 75 years ago, almost too long to remember exact details clearly, but close family ties and many neighbourhood friends gave us all a Iasting understanding of what “community” really meant.