Imagine a young Stephen Harper, future prime minister, playing a game of street hockey on Bessborough Drive with the other kids who called that pocket of East York home.
Leaside is known for its love of hockey, and so is Harper. It wouldn’t be any stretch of the imagination to think the drive of the much older Mahovlich brothers, Frank and Peter, perhaps rubbed off on the younger Harper.
Frank was 18 when he dressed for the Toronto Maple Leafs and, much like Harper, he called Bessborough Drive a path to his home.
The 2.5 km residential strip cuts through the heart of an older, more established Leaside, and is hugged by three schools: Bessborough, St. Anselm’s and Leaside High School. It begins in the south at Moore Avenue and sinews itself up before coming to a stop before the high school and Leaside Lawn Bowling Club.
But, that’s a mere interruption as the street continues on the north side of Eglinton Avenue and stretches all the way to Glenvale Avenue.
Ask Patrick Rocca, Bosley Real Estate agent, just what it is he loves about his street, and he’ll definitely bring up hockey and curb appeal.
“(There’s) so much character. The boulevard and houses are set back, making it very appealing.”
Still, Ol’ Bess wasn’t always called Bessborough. Prior to 1932 it was Edith Avenue, and was earmarked by Canadian Northern Railway’s landscape architect, Frederick Gage Todd, as a major commercial artery for Leaside. Why the change? Well, the ninth Earl of Bessborough, then Governor General, paid the community a visit, and he obviously made a lasting impression.
Leaside Public School also made the change, becoming Bessborough as well.
Nowadays, a house on Bessborough can run a homebuyer at least $1.3 million dollars. It’s worth it though as an old planned community dazzles with its post-WWII homes, hinting at a bygone Arts and Crafts architectural era.