Leaside Airfield

In World War I, the Canadian Government was asked to establish several airfields for the training of pilots, mechanics and maintenance crews for the Royal Flying Corps one of which was in Leaside. The York Land Company lent the Government 220 acres of land just north of the Canada Wire and Cable Company land, (between the present Wicksteed and Eglinton Avenues). Construction started May 21, 1917. The land was carefully drained and the final plans called for nine hangars, together with instructional and repair buildings, a mess hall, and a hospital. It accommodated 89 officers 230 cadets, 83 NCOs and about 600 other ranks.

One event gave it historic importance. In June 1918, Captain Brian Peck, who had flown to Montreal to demonstrate flying and do some recruiting, was asked by friends to take some letters to Toronto. The Post Office also thought this an idea worth trying, so it stamped one hundred and twenty letters with a special stamp to commemorate the event and on the twenty-fourth of June, Captain Peck returned to Toronto, with a stop for fuel at Kingston, arriving at the Leaside airport at 4:55 p.m. This was the first airmail flight in Canada. The airfield was closed in 1931. Sources: “History of Canadian Airports” by Tom M. McGrath; Lugas Publications, an excellent source of information on the history of aviation in Canada, “The Town of Leaside” by J. I. Rempel, Publisher - East York Historical Society and “Fifty Tales of Toronto” by Donald Jones, which contains an intriguing account of the first airmail flight in chapter 4.

Canada Wire, lower half

Leaside Airfield buildings, upper left

Wicksteed Ave., lower left