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Leaside History

A Brief History of Leaside

  • “Leaside” was built by William Lea, founder of the Village of Leaside, between 1851 and 1854.
  • This unique house, the first octagonal house in the Toronto area, was described by William Lea, “…like a bee’s cell, it enclosed the greatest amount of space within the least amount of wall.”
  • It was located close to where Leaside Memorial Gardens stand today.
  • In 1913, the CNR purposely set fire to the original “Leaside” house. It took all day to burn due to the magnificent pine woodwork with not a single knot in it.
  • In 1909, James Lea, William Lea’s nephew, built 201 Sutherland Drive
  • This home has been continuously occupied to this day.

  • In September 1894, CP railway opened a train station in Leaside, naming it the Leaside Junction, after William Lea.
  • Eventually renamed the Leaside Station, it served as a busy stop for CP passenger trains for over 75 years.
  • In 1970, the station closed by CP due to the elimination of passenger trains
  • In 1912, Donald Mann and William Mackenzie hired Frederick Todd, a town planner and landscape architect, to lay out the plans for the Town of Leaside. Todd had also done two of their other model towns, Mount Royal (Montreal) and Port Mann (Vancouver).
  • The history of Leaside is connected with the railway through Donald Mann and William Mackenzie, two principal shareholders of the Canadian Northern Railway.

  • On April 23, 1913, the Town of Leaside was incorporated with a population of 43 residents and Randolph McRae as its first Mayor.
  • 25 years would pass before residential construction of houses in the Leaside we know today began in earnest, with the economy finally emerging from the Depression.
  • In 1927, the Leaside Viaduct across the Don Valley and the Millwood underpass were constructed, connecting Leaside southward.
  • Henry Howard Talbot, visionary mayor of Leaside from 1938-1947, was responsible for much of the town’s growth.
  • In 1956, the most dramatic change happened to Leaside when Eglinton Avenue was extended eastward across the Don River, connecting to Don Mills and Scarborough.
  • In 1967, the Town of Leaside was amalgamated with neighboring Borough of East York.
  • A second amalgamation took place in 1998 when East York, the last Borough in Canada, along with North York, York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, and City of Toronto joined into the new City of Toronto.