Leaside Viaduct

Residents of East York had long advocated for additional routes across the Don Valley. In 1924, the newly formed Township began discussions with the Town of Leaside to build a new bridge across the valley. The engineer for the bridge was Frank Barber and the project had an initial budget of $870,000. The cost was divided between five governments: Ontario, York County, Toronto, Leaside and East York.

After approval by East York Council in June 1925, Reeve Robert Henry McGregor broke ground on December 13, 1926 with work beginning weeks later. Using innovative engineering and construction methods in all weather, the 427-metre structure took less than a year to complete. The effort did not come without cost, as three workers died on the job.

Image depicts monochrome photograph of construction of concrete piers of viaduct
East York-Leaside Viaduct under construction
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 586
Image depicts monochrome photographs of road approach to bridge
Millwood Road south to Leaside bridge
April 25, 1928
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1231, Item 1829


Image depicts event programme cover featuring hand-coloured monochrome photograph of Leaside viaduct
East York-Leaside Viaduct official opening ceremony programme
October 1927
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2603, File 54

The Leaside Viaduct was officially opened by Ontario Lieutenant Governor William Donald Ross on October 27, 1927.

Originally named the Confederation Viaduct in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Canadian confederation, it is now commonly known as the Leaside Bridge. Finishing slightly over budget, it greatly improved the flow of traffic between east and west over the Don Valley.

In April 2004, Toronto City Council added the Leaside Bridge to the Inventory of Heritage Properties.

East York Hydro-Electric Commission

In 1924 East York Council sought to disconnect from Toronto Hydro-Electric System and form its own hydro-electric commission. Chaired by Albert Jennings, a postal employee and enthusiastic electrification champion, the new public corporation officially began operations on January 1, 1926.

Initially located at 442 Sammon Avenue, East York hydro began with 12 employees and one wagon. It initially served 5,600 households, 166 commercial businesses, and 19 industrial customers, including Don Valley paper mills and the nearby brick works. A decade later, it had nearly double the customers and employees and its revenues and assets had grown by over 50 per cent.

Image depicts monochrome photograph of workmen next to truck
East York Hydro Commission employees beside truck
ca. 1942
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 580


Image depicts cover of event programme featuring line drawing of municipal building
Official opening programme for Albert Jennings Memorial Building
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1729, File 83

By 1951, East York Hydro had electrified nearly all homes in the Township.

Rapid postwar growth accelerated the need for electricity, and East York Hydro’s operations expanded considerably. Needing an updated headquarters, in 1951 it moved to the new Albert Jennings building located at 175 Memorial Park Avenue, near the Municipal Offices.

Named after its long-time chair who died earlier that year, the single-storey structure was a Shore & Moffat design, costing $130,000 to build. It contained offices, a meter repair room and a soundproof billing room.

East York Hydro remained at the Hydro building for nearly a half century until amalgamation, when it was folded into the new Toronto Hydro. Today this building is host to Toronto Public Health Environmental Services.


By 1967, East York Hydro took over supplying power to the Town of Leaside from Toronto Hydro when it merged into the new Borough of East York, at a cost of $1.8 million.

Image depicts colour photograph of parade float promoting the use of electricity
East York Hydro parade float
July 1972
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 86

By 1972, East York Hydro was renting out water heaters, operated 90 pole lines, powered 4,000 streetlights and had a 14-vehicle fleet.

East York Fire Department

East York Township’s earliest fire services were volunteer fire brigades, dispersed geographically along the school district lines of Todmorden, Woodbine Heights and Danforth Park. The first fire-fighting teams were made up of Township staff and some high-school age students.

Their equipment, which included buckets and two-wheeled carts known as banana wagons, was initially stored in a garage at Gowan and Pape avenues. This served as the municipality’s first fire station and was located near where volunteers worked. These volunteers were trained in the basement of William Burgess School by Fire Chiefs who were themselves volunteers. A Fire Board, elected by local ratepayers in the three fire districts managed the service.

Image depicts monochrome photograph of group of fire fighters around hose wagon
Todmorden volunteer firefighters standing beside hose wagon
ca. 1925
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 584
Image depicts monochrome photograph of fire engine surrounded by volunteer fire fighters
East York Volunteer Fire Brigade Area No. 7
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 500


Late in 1928, the Fire Board was disbanded to make way for the formation of an East York Fire Department. Tom Paveling was the first Fire Chief. He served in the role for nearly 40 years. Initially having just eight paid firefighters, they maintained a force of 29 volunteers supported by three fire engines and two fire halls located at 206 Holborne Avenue and 95 Gowan Avenue. The Holborne building would be replaced in 1953 with a new structure at 1313 Woodbine Avenue. By the end of the 1950s, East York boasted the lowest per capita fire loss for any municipality over 10,000 people.

Image depicts monochrome photograph of fire station
East York Fire Hall, 206 Holborne Avenue
May 21, 1952
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 599
Image depicts colour photograph of fire engine leaving fire station
East York Fire Hall, Woodbine Avenue
ca. 1972
City of Toronto Archives
Series 2604, File 131


On January 1, 1967, the Town of Leaside merged with the Borough of East York. The two fire departments also merged, led by former Leaside Fire Chief Ernest Bell with Leaside Fire Hall at 235 McRae Drive (later 231 McRae Drive) joining the East York Fire Department..


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