WWI — what did your grandmother do?

Toronto’s Museums and Heritage Services wants to know what your grandma or great grandma did in World War I.

Maybe she worked in the Leaside Munitions plant. Or maybe you have a great grandparent or great uncle or aunt who also worked for Leaside Munitions, a branch of Canada Wire and Cable.

Leaside was newly established as a municipality and the Canadian Northern Railway was in trouble with the advent of World War I in 1914. Canada Wire and Cable (which was incorporated in 1911), through Leaside Munitions, became the largest manufacturer of ammunition in North America. Leaside was an important industrial contributor to the Allied war effort.

The War to End All Wars began a century ago, on August 4, 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany.  Today we live in a global city and residents, who come from all over the world, may have family who served countries of the British Empire, or the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, or Germany or Russia…. Their families may have lived in war torn areas, or like most Canadians on the home front were lucky enough to support the war efforts from afar.

Long-time Leaside residents are being asked to check their cupboards and storerooms for any keepsake items of that time, scarce for an area of our community that meant so much.

Toronto Museums and Heritage Services wants the information to be part of an Oct. 5 event slated for Todmorden Mills Heritage Site, kind of an Attic Treasures Road Show for East York, Leaside, Thorncliffe Park and Bennington.

They want to meet you, document your stories and keepsakes and share them with other Torontonians and Canadians on a special World War I section of the Canadian Encyclopedia website. This project is a partnership of the City of Toronto, Historica Canada, and York University.

Full details will be available after Labour Day. In the meantime, here is contact information: Sandra Shaul, 6 Kendal Ave., Toronto M5R 1L6, 416-923-5809, cell 416-949-5809,

About Geoff Kettel 223 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.