Place:Leaside, York, Ontario, Canada

TypeFormer village
Coordinates43.7°N 79.367°W
Located inYork, Ontario, Canada     (1913 - 1967)
See alsoYork (township), York, Ontario, Canadatownship in which Leaside located until 1913
East York, York, Ontario, Canadatownship with which Leaside amalgamated in 1967
Toronto, York, Ontario, Canadacity of which it was a suburb and into which East York amalgamated in 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Leaside (/'liːˌsaɪd/) is an affluent neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located northeast of Downtown Toronto, in the vicinity of Eglinton Avenue East and Bayview Avenue. The area takes its name from William Lea and the Lea family, who settled there in the early years of the 19th century. The area first developed as farmland along with Toronto through the 19th century. It was incorporated as a town in 1913. In 1967, it amalgamated with the township of East York to form the borough of East York. In 1998, it became part of the city of Toronto. It is commonly seen as one of the most expensive and exclusive neighbourhoods in the city with a median household income of $129,930, serving upper-middle-class families.

A map showing Leaside and its location in relation to Toronto and the other suburbs.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early history

The general area of Toronto had been inhabited by various First Nations at least as early as 3000 BCE, when the Laurentian peoples moved south into the area just east of Toronto. The first European known to travel to the area was Étienne Brûlé, who passed through the area in the early part of the 17th century. Surveying by Europeans began in earnest in the 1780s, with people fleeing the American Revolution.

John Lea Sr. was born in 1773 in Lancashire and immigrated to York, Upper Canada in 1819, coming from Philadelphia in the United States where they immigrated to in 1818. Before immigrating, he married Mary Hutchison (born in Cumberland) and they had their first child in Lanchester on May 28, 1814 and named him William Lea.[1] He purchased Lot 13 in the third concession from Alexander McDonnell on January 23, 1820 and settled there with his family. John Lea Sr. had three children - William, John Jr. and Mary. In 1851, William Lea bought land just south of his father's farm, and began constructing a large, octagonal brick house, which he named "Leaside". The house was completed in 1854, the same year John Lea Sr. died, aged 81. The building served not only as a home and court house for William Lea's family, but after he became a Magistrate in the County of York, soon served as a residence, a town hall and a post office as well. The property became the possession of William's eldest son Joseph upon his death in 1893. Joseph lived in the octagonal house until 1903. Afterwards, it was abandoned and later demolished by the Canadian Northern Railway in 1913. The company later set fire to the old landmark in order to clear the land to make way for the company's proposed sidings and townsite.

In the 1870s, the Ontario and Quebec Railway Company purchased a few acres (hectares) of land on the south-east corner of William Lea's property to run its railway across. The Ontario and Quebec Railway Company encountered financial difficulties in 1884, and leased part of its railway, including the section of track running through Leaside, to the Canadian Pacific Railway for 999 years. The Canadian Pacific Railway decided to establish a maintenance stop and a sliding by-pass on the railway on the land purchased from William Lea, which was considered attractive because it was uniformly flat. The station was completed in September 1894 and named "Leaside" in honour of William Lea.[2] In 1892, a junction was built in the Leaside area, and a railway line named the Don Branch was constructed south along the Don River towards the original Union Station on Toronto's waterfront.

Development of a model town

In 1912, William Mackenzie and Donald Mann, the owners of the Canadian Northern Railway, hired landscape architect Frederick Todd to plan development for a community to be built around a maintenance yard for their railway, which ran beside the CP lines through the Leaside area. Mackenzie and Todd founded the York Land Company to purchase land for such a town. The company purchased over , including most of the third concession and some land north of Eglinton Avenue.[3] The purchased lands extended from the railway tracks in the south to three farms north of Eglinton Avenue, from Leslie Street in the east to Bayview Avenue in the west. The town of Leaside was planned by Todd for the company, which put its name to many of the local streets; Laird Drive, Hanna Road, and Wicksteed Avenue all bear the name of Canadian Northern Railway company executives.[4] The new community was planned with commercial areas, residential areas, and a town centre west of Laird Drive, and space was laid out east of Laird Drive for industrial development. The goal of the company was to create Leaside as a new upper class residential area of Toronto, the "New Rosedale".[5] The developers first approached the town of North Toronto, hoping that North Toronto would annex the area and provide services such as streets, sewers, and public transportation. The town council of North Toronto refused. A similar request to the city of Toronto was met with a similar reply. With their attempts to include Leaside within another city or town rebuffed, Colonel Davidson and Randolph McRae applied to the province of Ontario to incorporate Leaside as a town.

The Town of Leaside was officially incorporated on April 23, 1913. The population of Leaside was 43.[6] The Canadian Northern Railway company approved Todd's town plan on May 8, 1913. A town council for Leaside was elected on May 8, 1913[6] and they approved the plan for the town on May 21, 1913, which was the final legal approval needed before the plan could be implemented. On June 21, 1913, the Toronto World carried the announcement that properties in Leaside's planned community would be marked in the fall of that year.[7] In September 1913, lots went on sale within the planned community.

In 1914, the industrial area that had been set aside east of Laird Drive received its first tenant. Canada Wire and Cable began construction of a factory for production of 9.2 inch shells for World War I. In addition to the new factory, Canada Wire and Cable moved their other Toronto production plants to the same location to increase efficiency. Canada Wire and Cable also created the subsidiary company Leaside Munitions Company to oversee shell production.[8] Soon after, construction began on a federal government owned airstrip, named Leaside Aerodrome. The York Land Company leased about to the government for the airfield, between Wicksteed Avenue and Eglinton Avenue.[8] On May 21, 1917 construction began on the airfield. At the close of the war, there were accommodations for around 1000 military personnel.

While the industrial development in the area went ahead as planned during World War One, the anticipated residential development did not occur. As late as 1929 the population remained under 500. World War I spurred the demand for industrial output but diminished the call for new housing. The bankruptcy of Canadian Northern Railway left the project at a loss and Leaside's isolated location made it unappealing to workers from Toronto.

Growth as a suburb of Toronto

After the war, the strip became the site of Canada's first delivery of airmail on June 18, 1918, when pilot Brian Peck delivered 120 letters from Montreal, Quebec.[4] This delivery was initially organised at the behest of some of his friends in Montreal who wanted letters delivered to Toronto; however, when Canada Post heard of the plans, they gathered together the letters as a test of an airmail system.[9] After the war, with little need for shells and other war materials, the factories of the Leaside Munition Company were closed. These buildings were quickly occupied by the Durant Motor Company, which produced cars named Durants and Stars as well as the Rugby truck.[9]

Leaside's growth slowed after World War I, with its primary industry being war industry. The existing houses had all been built for employees of the Leaside Munitions Company by the company. However, at this time Leaside stood on the edge of Toronto and was increasingly an appealing place for investment. Investors from Baltimore bought property that had previously belonged to Robert T. Davies for the construction of a race track. They formed the Thorncliffe Park Racing and Breeding Association Ltd. to operate the track.[10]

The Leaside Viaduct was completed on October 29, 1927, providing easy connection between east Toronto and Leaside. This led to the rapid growth of Leaside at the time, and in the future.[11] The impassibility of the Don River valley had previously made it difficult for people employed in Toronto to reside in Leaside. The same month, an underpass on Millwood Road was opened through the valley.[12]

In 1928, the Lincoln Electric Company of Canada Ltd. relocated from Toronto's west end to Leaside. The company originally sold Lincoln motors in Canada, but incorporated in 1930 and began the manufacture of motors in Leaside. At the onset of the Great Depression, the Durant Motor Company ran into financial troubles. The last cars were produced in 1933, and the buildings were occupied by the Canada Wire and Cable company.[9]

At the start of World War II, Lincoln Electric moved their operations to Leaside industrial park, adjacent to the Canada Wire and Cable plant. The new location, constructed in 1940, covered . On July 16, 1940, Research Enterprises Limited was incorporated. The company operated only during the war, closing in 1946. It was, however, the largest single employer in Leaside's history, employing over 7500 men and women at its peak. The site manufactured military radio equipment and optical supplies, with a total value of $220 million (CDN) in goods produced during the war.

As part of a Royal Canadian Air Force public relations plan, the town of Leaside officially "adopted" No. 432 Squadron RCAF of No. 6 Group RCAF. Formed and adopted on 1 May 1943, the squadron took the town's name as its nickname, becoming 432 "Leaside" squadron RCAF. The sponsorship lasted the duration of the war.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, the population of Leaside stood at 9,800. In 1949, Leaside's population had grown to 14,826.[13]

On May 14, 1952, the Sunnybrook Plaza, located on the north-east corner of Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East, became one of the first shopping centres in Toronto. The site was previously a marsh where people dug loam for their gardens.[14]

In 1952 the Lincoln Electric company expanded to a plant, and their site expanded to cover almost .[15] They leased an additional building in Leaside to house their distribution center.

The last horse race at Thorncliffe Park was run on June 23, 1952. Investors from Toronto bought the racetrack that year.

The rapid growth of Thorncliffe in the 1950s necessitated the construction of a second north–south bridge across the Don Valley. In 1955, Leaside's population had grown to 16,779 [13] and the Leaside town council approved the second bridge. Construction of the bridge was completed on September 7, 1960 and it was opened by Leslie Frost. The bridge was named the Charles Hiscott Bridge in honour of Leaside's mayor at the time.[11]

Amalgamation and recent history

In 1967, Leaside amalgamated with the township of East York to form the borough of East York. As such Leaside became a neighbourhood within East York.

Passenger train service to Leaside Station ended in 1970, and the station was closed. The station would reopen briefly in the 1980s as a restaurant, but would see no further passenger traffic. Leaside Airport fell into disuse, and in 1971 the last hangar was demolished.

Canada Wire and Cable was purchased by Alcatel in 1991, and the operations relocated to Markham in 1996, with the location being converted to a shopping centre. The plant had expanded through the years and been a major influence in Leaside, employing over 2700 workers at its peak. It had also been a strong influence over the community in other ways, investing in the community in various ways, including the construction of a water main in 1918.

East York merged with five other municipalities in 1998 to form the new City of Toronto.[16]

Line 5 Eglinton, also known as the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, will have 3 stations in Leaside when completed in 2022: underground stations at Bayview Avenue and at Laird Drive, and a grade level station at Leslie Street.

Research Tips

The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.

Early Records

Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.

Vital Records after 1869

Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1915 are now available [October 2014]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
In September 2014 announced that its paid website has been subjected to a "houseclean" of its Ontario BMD database, adding data that had been omitted and making many corrections. Its provision now includes

  • Births, with 2,172,124 records covering 1869-1913.
  • Marriages, with 3,393,369 records for 1801-1928 including Ontario county, district and Roman Catholic origins as well as province-wide civil registration.
  • Deaths, with 2,190,030 records comprising Ontario civil registrations of deaths, 1869-1938 and registrations of Ontario overseas deaths for 1939-1947.

Land Records and Wills

Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.

Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.


The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1921. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can also view censuses on microfilm at the LAC, at the Archives of Ontario (see address above), or at large libraries throughout Canada.

Hard-to-Find Places

E-books, Books and Newspapers

  • The Internet Archive, particularly texts from Canadian universities, can contain interesting material
  • Our Roots is a Canadian website similar to The Internet Archive
  • Global Genealogy is an online bookshop specializing in Ontario material who will ship anywhere in the world.
  • The Ancestor Hunt is a blog listing old Ontario newspapers that are available online, both free and pay websites. This is a very extensive list.

    === Websites with more local information on the City of Toronto ===
  • Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Serves the current City of Toronto including Etobicoke, York Township, Weston, Long Branch, New Toronto, Mimico, Swansea, Forest Hill, East York, Leaside and North York as well as the original City of Toronto. Contains a table of links to Toronto City Directories to be found online. Many other services and publications.
  • History and Genealogy at the Toronto Public Library. Not the easiest website to find one's way around but contains some very useful material. Just looking though the old photographs in the Digital Library can be both interesting and informative.
  • Digital Toronto City Directories. Toronto Public Library has digitized all of the Toronto city directories in its collections that were published between 1833 and 1969. Suburbs and separate villages which have now been part of Toronto for a century or so are included. All the directories can be accessed from this website. Some are PDFs published by TPL itself; others are on Internet Archive (and may be more difficult to access). There are no breaks between letters of the alphabet, and the street-by-street listings precede the alphabetical ones so it may take time to find someone with a surname beginning with L or M.
  • City of Toronto Archives. It has a vast digital collection of photographs online--many taken when roadworks were being planned and show a street's architecture, but the archive is also well worth a visit when in Toronto--it holds assessment records back to 1853, maps of neighbourhoods, and a library of local reference books.
  • Canadiana Library at North York Public Library This library houses a wide collection of local genealogical material, provides microfilm readers for the Canadian census and for local newspapers, and is the home of the Ontario Genealogical Society's own library. This collection has moved to the main Toronto Public Library on Yonge Street north of Bloor Street.
  • There may be many other libraries and museums housing information for genealogical searching in Toronto and York Region
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Leaside. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.