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Globe and Mail: Leaside Photo Exhibition
Dave Le Blanc | May 25, 2018

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When Toronto's upscale Leaside was a company town

From Issue No. 270 | July 20, 2018

Mister Company Man on the Company land
Stands every street and building in the town
Every park, every green, every home and dream
The Company owns every piece of ground
And everybody in the Company Town
Company Town by The Men They Couldn’t Hang, 1989

Examples of 'company town' houses at 121-123 Rumsey Rd., Vik Pahwa

If it had been named Wireville or Cableton, perhaps Toronto residents would understand how important these "company town" homes in Leaside — incorporated in 1913, Leaside would become part of the borough of East York in 1967 — really are and how they jump-started development.<

But, alas, when Canada Wire and Cable Co. (CWCC) purchased 6.5 hectares on the eastern edge of the development, another company had beaten them to the punch: the Canadian Northern Railway. It was the railway that had assembled 415 hectares of farmland and hired New Hampshire-born, Montreal-based Frederick Gage Todd to plan the unique, curving streets of Leaside. 

Named for farmer John Lea, who settled here in 1819, and for his son, William, who had an octagonal home named "Leaside" built in the 1850s, Todd sharpened his draughting pencil, thought of his mentor Frederick Law Olmsted and employed new garden city principles to his design, just as he'd done for Mont Royal in Montreal and Port Mann in British Columbia.


278 Sutherland Dr., Vik Pahwa

However, during the 15-year development stall, this was Canada Wires town. As early as 1914, the president, Emil A. Wallberg, was securing permits to build homes for his employees on 40-foot lots. While the plan was to build 100 fairly close to the factory, underground water issues meant they were pushed across Laird Drive onto Rumsey Road, Airdrie Road and Sutherland Drive. In all, approximately 68 were built.


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