Living in Leaside
Leaside is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Toronto. In light of its high profile, it is not surprising that Leaside is also one of the more expensive real estate districts in Toronto. Leaside is in especially high demand with upper middle income families who value this neighbourhood as an ideal place to raise children. Leaside has abundant green-space and parkland, a fine selection of schools, one of Toronto’s best shopping districts on Bayview Avenue, and excellent access to public transit.
History of Leaside
Leaside was first settled by John Lea a pioneer farmer who emigrated to Canada from Philadelphia in 1819. In the 1850’s, Lea’s oldest son William built an eight-sided octagonal shaped house – appropriately named ‘Leaside’ – near the present day site of Leaside Memorial Gardens. This neighbourhood has been called Leaside ever since. The Canadian Northern Railway incorporated the Town of Leaside in 1913 on land formerly owned by the Lea family. Leaside’s development was historically significant in that it was the first town in Ontario to be completely planned on paper before any homes were actually built. Leaside’s residential development was stalled due to the outbreak of World War I, however Leaside was an important contributor to the war effort. Heavy artillery was manufactured at the Leaside Munitions Company. Leaside was also the location of an airfield used for the training of Canadian pilots. In 1918 the Leaside Airfield made Canadian aviation history as the terminus of the first airmail flight in Canada, travelling from Montreal to Toronto. Leaside’s status as a Town came to an end in 1967 when it became part of the Borough of East York, which has since amalgamated with the City of Toronto.
Homes in Leaside
The typical Leaside house is situated on a generous size lot with a private drive and a garage. Most of the houses contain beautiful wood trim, hardwood floors and a working fireplace. Leaside’s Tudor-style houses were built largely in the 1930’s and 1940’s. There is a good mix of two-storey detached homes, bungalows and semi-detached houses. A growing number of Leaside bungalows have had second storey additions, while others have been replaced by new custom designed homes. During the 1990’s a handful of exclusive condominium and townhouse projects have been built on the periphery of the neighbourhood. Leaside also contains some of Toronto’s nicest rental apartment buildings, located on the east side of Bayview Avenue and on Leacrest Road overlooking the Don Valley Ravine.
Lifestyle in Leaside
Bayview Avenue features a wonderful collection of shops and restaurants. Many of these stores are geared towards children reflecting the demographics of this neighbourhood. Bayview Avenue is also known for its antique shops, specialty stores, and neighbourhood pubs, that attract a clientele from all over the city. Leaside residents also shop at the local stores along Eglinton Avenue. This shopping district is anchored by the Sunnybrook Plaza located at the north-east corner of Bayview and Eglinton. There are also some small shops and services located in the interior of the Leaside neighbourhood on both McRae Drive and Millwood Road. Leaside’s newest shopping destination is the Leaside Centre, a collection of large national retailers located at the south-east corner of Laird Drive and Eglinton Avenue. Adjacent to the Leaside Centre is the Leaside Business Park which combines light industrial businesses mixed in with specialty retail stores.
Recreation in Leaside
Few Toronto neighbourhoods can match Leaside when it comes to recreation. The Leaside Memorial Community Gardens at Millwood Road and Laird Drive is a multi-recreational complex that includes an indoor ice arena, an indoor swimming pool, a curling rink and an auditorium. Leaside residents can enjoy nature and fitness activities in Serena Gundy Park and Sunnybrook Park. In addition to offering ideal picnic spots Sunnybrook Park features top notch sports fields, an exercise trail, horseback riding stables and a licensed snack bar operated by the Parks and Property Department. Trace Manes Park, located in south Leaside off McRae Drive is the home of the Leaside Tennis Club which has six tennis courts. Trace Manes Park also has a tots playground, a baseball diamond and an outdoor natural ice rink which is in use from late December until the end of February. The Leaside Public Library is situated adjacent to this park off McRae Drive. Howard Talbot Park, situated in a picturesque valley at the south-east corner of Bayview and Eglinton Avenues features two baseball diamonds that are popular with local baseball leagues.
Transportation in Leaside
Bus service winds its way through the interior of the Leaside neighbourhood, south of Eglinton Avenue and connects to the St. Clair subway station on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. Bus routes on Bayview and Eglinton Avenues connect to the Davisville and the Eglinton stations also on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line. Motorists can be downtown in ten minutes via the Bayview extension which also links up with the Don Valley Parkway and a myriad of commuter highways.