A walk through the storied past of Lee Avenue

Lee Avenue is one of the oldest and most historic streets in the Beach area. Originally it was called Kew Avenue after Kew Gardens, which is on the west side of the street, and which in turn was named after the Williams family, some of the earliest pioneers in the Beach.

Politically, Lee Avenue covered three different jurisdictions 120 years ago. The street from the lakefront to a point about 60 metres north of Queen Street was in the City of Toronto. From this point to a spot just past the present Williamson Road was called the township of York or Norway. From that point north was the town of East Toronto.

Now that I have everybody confused, let’s proceed. In the  early 1880s Walter S. Lee purchased 20 acres  on the east side of Lee  for his summer residence. Lee was a wealthy businessman whose main abode was in the city. He served on the Board of Education for over 40 years and was involved in many charitable causes.

He petitioned the city to name the street Lee Avenue. On the west side of Lee, Joseph Williams, a retired British soldier, purchased a considerable amount of land. Williams wanted to turn his section of land into a duplicate of the famous ‘Kew Gardens’ in London, England. This didn’t materialize at the time, because of a lack of funding.

Williams started using his property as a picnic area for the citizens of Toronto. Because of the beautiful grass, water and sand, it soon became a cottage and vacation retreat. Williams, along with others, started to rent areas for weeks at a time. Later on cottages were built on the lakefront and on Lee Avenue.

In 1902, Lee died and his property was subdivided into cottages, later permanent homes. From that time on, both sides of Lee Ave was lined with houses and cottages. One cottage was built for $850, imagine the cost now! In those days the cottages started at the bottom of the street beside the lake, starting with number 1.

The city bought Williams’ property for a public beach, and later a park called ‘Al Frescoe Lawn’, which was used as a lawn bowling green, skating rink and featured a clubhouse at the lakefront called Kew Beach Clubhouse, housing boats and social events. The city eventually took over responsibility for lawn bowling, skating, swimming and other activities, and moved these recreation facilities to the west side, where they remain to this day.

Houses on the west side of Lee Avenue in 1930, where the Kew Beach Lawn Bowling Club now exists.

On the west side of the street most of the houses were demolished. The city left only one – the Kew Williams house. It is the only one left standing and was used by the city as a groundskeeper’s house.

The intersection of Queen and Lee has always been commercially and financially the heart of the Beach. On the southwest corner is the historic Toronto-Dominion Bank building, which is now a Coles book store. On the southeast corner was the first Tamblyn’s drug store; now we have Bell and the Royal Bank. The old Family Theatre was also located there. On the northwest corner stands Foodland, originally a food store, at one time I.G.A. It is one of the few old buildings with a metallic ceiling inside, and there is now a lovely mural on the side of the building depicting the history of the Beach. On the northeast corner stood the Wooden Bell building (later moved up the street). The location became another bank, now TDCanada Trust.

One of the first electric streetcars came to the intersection of Queen and  Lee in the early 1890s. Just to the west is the Beaches Public Library, which has stood for nearly 100 years. This corner will remain the heart of the Beach, as long as we don’t allow any repressive development to encroach from other sections of our beloved Beach.

Lee Avenue Houses

Lee Avenue originally started at the lake and in 1902-03, the numbers on the east side started at 1 – they stopped at the new street called Alfresco Lawn, so when the city took over the parks, the numbers started at 9, where the current street begins.

9 – A fine example of a Beach cottage.At one time these could be built and bought for $500-750. The recent sale price for this home was $1,250,000.

11 – Blarney Castle, owned by Edward Martin in 1920. Here is a wonderful example of Beach architecture with its green and yellow colours, quite unique.

31 – Hotel, owned by Wm. Thompson. A fine large example of one of our summer hotels in the Beach which has just been renovated.

37 – Manuel Gebertig was one of the original members of the Beach Synagogue and one of the original owners of the movie theatre.

30 – Kew Williams, the son of original pioneer Joe Williams, built his honeymoon cottage in April of 1902 for his wife with stone and wood from around Kingston. It is one of the last homes of the Williams family and a beauty beyond comparison.

43 – This was the residence of one of our local architects, E.R. Babington, who built many of the cottages in the area. One of his most noted is on the southeast corner of Queen and Leuty.

55 – Here is a monument to averted disaster. A 22-storey apartment building was to be built here in the 1960s, but common sense prevailed. Beachers stopped it, and now we have this little apartment building.

59 & 71 – The Clayton family, original Beach butchers. This is a tribute to one of our pioneer families who were some of the original ‘purveyors on Queen’.

75 – Hooley Smith house. Reginal “Hooley” Smith was the Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe of the days after the First World War, said to be one of the greatest of all time, and also a Beacher.

Kew Gardens – Wm. D. Young memorial fountain. The fountain is a tribute to a doctor who treated the sick and infirm and in many cases never charged them. He died helping a young soldier during the First World War, after contracting a disease from him. He is the epitome of a doctor who helped all Beachers, the sick and the poor.

97 – Bell Telephone building, St. Michael’s College. In this location over 100 years ago the Beaches Exchange was built, and remained for many years. It became St. Michael’s College during the 1930s. Both moved, but the building still stands as an apartment building.

114 – Farm house. This site was the location of one of the original farm houses on Lee, when the area was still farmland.

120 – G.W.V.A. On this part of Lee, the original Great War Veterans Association in the Beach was formed, later moving to the Kingston Road and Woodbine branch. Both buildings have since been demolished.

126 – Joe Price was one of the leading developers in the Beach, building the Price development between Leuty and MacLean. This house is the most stately example of Beach architecture. More will be written on Price.

125 – An original house on Lee, altered with its verandah.

141 – Another century house distinct in its appearance.

147-9 – These two houses are unique, showcasing a Californian style of architecture

144-6 – These two houses were originally one.

150 – William and Edna Houston house. William (Bill) Houston was a sports legend in the Beach, married to Edna. Bill was the last general manager of The Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team, and was a lifelong friend of the owner.

168-80  – Allendale. Anthony Allens was a wealthy manufacturer who built the ‘brick cottage’ with its own lawn bowling area on Lee. Alas it was razed and a few other homes were built in its place.

207 – Another early example of the oldest homes on Lee in the former village of East Toronto.

235 – Albert Flowers was the gatekeeper to the Ames estate. Much of the land at the north end on the east side of Lee belonged to A.E. Ames, until the building of new homes after the second world war.

304 – This is one of the most elegant houses on Lee. Originally it belonged to John Ward. It later became Victoria Hospital, a private facility where many Beachers were born. It was run by nurse Zelak Ward. Today it has not lost any of its historic lustre. It has a little private/public library in the front and a sun dial on the side.

The following houses are typical individual homes over 100 years old. Each one has its own style and is in the vicinity of what was called ‘Norway’, which was  part of East York Township:

172 – Garnet Galloway house

174 – Bernard Kerr House

178 – Henry Williams house

180 – Loftus Starke house

184 – Geo Kay house

214 – Walter Hudson house (originally a small cottage sitting on a ridge, later enlarged)

Lee Avenue wouldn’t be as historic if it wasn’t for two people: Rev. Walter Stewart Darling, a minister who first had a summer place at Kingston Road and Lee; and later A.E. Ames, a wealthy stockbroker who made this his summer home, one of the most picturesque homes in the area. Ames would entertain the Governor General of Canada for the week of the Queen’s Plate at his estate named ‘Glen Stewart’ a hundred years ago. He would open the Queen’s Plate with the Governor General and the horse guards – they would deploy from his estate down to the Woodbine Race Track for the regal event.

Mr. Ames was also a fitness buff on his estate. He opened up a golf course called ‘Glen Stewart’ which he allowed to become the first public golf course in the city of Toronto. On his estate he also had a large pond filled with fish and fowl. Many old-timers referred to his property as ‘Ames Bush’ and ‘Ames Pond’.

I could write for another 20 pages on Lee Avenue, but that’s for another column.

Was this article informative? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!


I lived with my family at #51 Lee Ave then #65 Lee Ave during the 40/50/60/70/and Mom sold the house at 65 in 1988. These homes were build by my Great Grandfather Wm. Forbes who also built the Fire Hall on Queen and Woodbine. A friend of mine sent me this e-mail and I am very glad. I lived at ther Beach until I was married in 1965…the Beach will always be my “heart” home.
Thanks for all the information
Penny Hyman (File)
My great grandfather build #65 the turn of the century

Hello Penny – I was wondering if you were the Penny I knew. I was a friend of your sister Trudy. She was at my wedding. I married Ralph Waites. I still live in the Beach on Elmer Avenue. Your mom was a great lady. She was a lawn bowler as I am. Thanks for bringing some memories back to me. Regards Jo.

Walter Sutherland Lee was my 3rd great uncle. The next street over was named after his wife, Emma Mary Leuty, as was the life saving station. Lesser known is the origin of Violet Ave. between Lee and Leuty. It was named after their grand daughter, Violet Gooderham Lee. I’ m not as certain of Alfresco, but I suspect it was a play on the name Alfred, which appears in that branch of the Lee and Gooderham families.


I am interested in the store on the northwest corner of
Queen and Lee that is presently the Foodland store. I have
been told that my great grandfather Albert S.Smith in partnership with
a Mr. Pisor (or Piser) operated a general store Pisor and Smith on that corner prior
to my great grandfather’s unfortunate death on Nov.28,1898, but I cannot
find any notation of this. Additionally he helped build the lintel over the main
entrance of St.John’s Norway church. If anyone can give me any information
on this store I would greatly appreciate it.l. Thanks

Ed Russell

Ed – I think that the Foodland store dates from the 1930s or 40s – it is an Art Deco supermarket and obviously any store from before 1898 was smaller and has been demolished. I am sure Gene has knowledge of this if you contact him directly.

I remember when growing up in the beaches, north end of Wheeler Ave in the 50-& 60s the northwest corner was Kreskies dept store and then was switched over to a grocery store with home delivery and the north east corner was Woolworths dept store ( Kreskies competitor)

My mother bought 117 lee ave in 1955 and lived there till 2002 the store in 1955 was a Kresge store with a front entrance on Queen St and a side entrance on Lee Ave to the lower level which was their basement. On the north east corner was Woolworths were I worked part time as a stock clerk at 12. Hope this is some help to you. I sure miss those times.

We lived upstairs at 178 Lee Ave
From early 1958 until the 1990’s.
The Russell family rented from the owners the Edwards

Is this the Wally Brooker that attended Malvern in the mid 1960s? I was a student there at that time and, if my memory serves me, I vaguely remember a classmate named Wally Brooker. I left MCI in 1966 and moved to Calgary and only returned to the Beaches a few times. I lived on lower Glen Manor Drive and worked part time at the old BP station at Queen and Wineva. I am retired now in Calgary. If this is the same Wally I may have been with at MCI, I would like to hear from you. David Reynolds (MCI 66). my email is david.reynolds@shaw.ca

RE: 117 lee Ave. This house was purchased by my parents in 1956 from the Russell family for $16,000.00. I believe it was built in 1905 as when I was doing some renovations we found a dime dated 1095 on the rough 2×4 framing. My family lived there till 2005. I believe it just sold for 1 miilion dollars. I would sure like to know the name of the original owner and others up to when we purchased it. In 1956 at the four corners (Lee and Queen) on the SW corner the TD bank, the NW corner was Kresge’s, the NE corner was F.W. Woolworth’s and the SW corner was The Cut-Rite Store. Beside The Woolworth store going east was Loblaws then Drug store, then United Cigar Store etc. If you should have any info on 117 lee please contact me. Thank you. James S. Wickes

Hey James,
We played on the street together. I remember you as Jimmy. Just down the street from your house was Gerald Chapman’s house (#109), who I chummed around with quite a bit circa ’59-’61. I delivered the Star on the street in those days. Hope you are well.

Hi Wally, Been a lot of years , where are you living now. Gerry is retired and in Port hope. Take care. James

Hi James,
I live in Toronto near the Ossington Subway station. I’ve lived in the West End for years. Where are you living?

My parents owned 176 the Edwards. My name is Patricia. When l married my husband and I bought 157. Our last name was Bellman.

Hi there. I was interested that you delivered The Star. I also had a paper route on Victoria Park Avenue. I am a writer researching a story and interested to hear if you have any funny/interesting stories from your route days. Thanjd

Where is Gerry (Gerald) now? I dated him off and on for two years from 72/73? I notice below that he is living in Port Hope. He was a great guy.

Hello James, I am related to the Russels who owned this house before your parents did. I was doing some research on my family tree, which is how I came across this 117 Lee Ave. address. In 1931 it was owned by James Alfred Russell (1875-1950; Scottish; piano-maker at Heintzman & Co. and a forman at the Ice Plant) and Sarah McInery (1873-1952; Irish). They had two sons, James Francis and Stanley, and daughter Norma Veronica (moved out in 1925 when she married). I found the 1931 Census noting that they owned the house and it was valued at $6,000 then. I’ve also sent you a separate email with more details :).

I lived at 55 Lee Ave. from 1977-1984. The heating was abysmal.
the rent was way over priced. The maintenance was non- existent . The only thing that made the rent worth while was the neighborhood and all the characters that lived in the building and on the block.
I’m not kidding when I say that I could write a probable best seller
comedy book on all that took place in and around that building.
We finally moved after the fuse box inside the front closet went on fire.
I now wonder how this building ever got a pass by inspectors to open.
We enjoyed the beach, walks on b/walk, Centre 55, Littlefairs butcher
Nova Fish. The Beach Theatre, Concerts every Sunday in the Bandshell
I still miss it. Thanks Gene.

I remember I was looking for a house back in 77 and it was located on Lee Ave. the lady’s husband had passed away suddenly and she could no longer afford it, I forget what number, it was near Williamson rd. and on the west side it was a semi detach and had no parking, now as for the north east side of queen there was Woolworths on the corner and Kresge’s was right next door to it, where shoppers drug mart now stands, Kresge’s went belly up first then Woolworths closed up.

the north west side was always a IGA and since Sobeys now owns IGA, it’s a now a Foodland

as for al fresco I was told it was his idea so they named it after him, I took tennis lessons from Mrs. Davis back in the 60’s

also on the south side there was at one time a movie theatre there and a pool hall upstairs above it I used to play pool there and some lady ran it, I always remembered it as a bank down stairs.

I don’t remember too much of that part of the beach as I grew up around Neville park

The Movie theatre was the Family and then the Lake Theatres. I am not sure in which order. Went there and the Fox all t he time.

Fantastic article. I was born on Lee…don’t remember the number, but north of Queen. My great Aunt Mimi worked at the TD bank for years. Every Friday we would go there, then to the IGA, then for fish and chips (being good Catholics!) at Nova, I think. Moved from Lee to Waverly, then to Blantyre as the family grew. The Beach was a great place to grow up.

This Al Fresco guy I believe lived on that street al fresco lawn, he lived on the north side, right across from the shuffle board court, I remember on the way to getting my tennis lesson there was a rain storm, there was a older gentleman that also took refuge in the area of where the shuffle board court is I asked about the shuffle board court and I was told by this older gentleman that it was named after this al fresco guy, he always wanted to play shuffle board so when he died in honour of him they named this shuffle board court after him. also they named the street after him too. that’s the big area where it’s covered with a large green roof, as to how accurate this story is, is anybody’s guess, this would be back in 64 or 65,
I don’t know who that older gentleman was and I never saw him again.

I lived at 63 Lee Ave. back in 1972. This is the home that Norman Jewison, back in the 30’s grew up in and attended Kew Beach School and Malvern and eventually U of T. His folks managed a convenience store and post office.

in the late 40’s and early 1950’s I attended Kew Beach Public School and Malvern CI, too. We lived at 1906 Queen Street and to our east on the south side of Queen Street at Kippendavie Avenue was a dry goods store owned by the parents of Norman Hewson. Just west of that was a Sottish bakery that had the best long chocolate covered donuts, which we enjoyed after coming back from a woodworking shop class at Norway Public School.

The first time I ever came into Toronto ( a new immigrant staying with relatives in Streetsville), I took the Grey Coach in to town, walked down Bay to Queen, and had my first ride on the Queen Car, getting off at Lee Avenue and walking down to #15 where a woman I had met on the ship coming over, lived. Among other things, she took me down to Kew Gardens to feed the ducks. My first night in Toronto was spent at 15 Lee Ave. It’s 5o years ago but I remember it clearly.

I lived at 15 Lee Ave. and moved as a kid from there in December 1965. Our family rented out the third floor from 1955-1965. we had tow ladies live there for quite a while Susan and Margret from England. I went to Williamson Road Elem. from Jr. Kinder- 6th grade.

OMG….I remember the Davidson’s…. Jimmie, Sharon, and Christine(Gigi). Please tell me you are the same family. I lived on Alfresco Lawn 1955-1980. Jo-Anne Wylie

Hi Jo-Anne
I I am Christine (Gigi) can’t believe I came across this site. I didn’t know my sister Sharon
had written anything . How are you? I live in Phoenix AZ. Wow we will have to catch up.

Hi Christine! A friend just sent this to me and I am hoping that you see this and see my contact information. Would love to hear from you and catch up.

Hi Jo-Anne, I remember your family Ginny, Lynn and your mom and dad. I live in California, Chris lives in Arizona Jimmy passed away 10 year’s ago from cancer. We had an other sister in 66 a few months after we moved to the States. My mom is still alive. How here from after all these years.

That was Sue Harding and her friend Margaret and they had a kitten. I met Sue when we shared a cabin on the SS Franconia in 1964. I was immigrating to Canada, and Sue from returning from one of her many trips back to England.

Hi Sheila I live at the condo that Brian and Brenda Dow lived at Henley Gardens. I know Brian died last year, but I was wondering if Sheila is still alive because I still get mail for her and have no one to contact …can you help …thanks Lucy

Did ayone used to live at 105 Lee’s Avenue? And if so would you have any old photos? Would love to see them and possibly come to toronto…if I may get copies!! Thankyou so much.

Hi Susan, my Dad and his family lived at 105 Lee Ave! The only photo I have is of he and my mother’s engagement photo taken in the backyard! In 1930!

I lived at 332 Lee Ave. For about 30 years. My family the Gibsons’ aunt Nancy Right and Grand Mother Caudle all lived in the Beaches and on Lee Ave. for over 50 years. Children: Don Bob Lawrence Barbara Paul John and Allan Mom Phylis Dad . Henry The children all attended Williamson Rd. School. Malvern CI and Danforth Tec. my mom went to the High school of Commerce, in the east end of TO. I was a prominent athlete at Williamson/Glen Ames and Malvern. Winning the first ever Inter team football trophy that is still at Malvern. I live in NB now and would love to hear from any old Beaches residents.

My grandparents lived at 328….Fulcher was their last name. Wonder if you remember them at all.

My grandparents lived at 328….Fulcher was their last name….wonder if you would remember them.

Allan turnell, my name is John Collins, remember you well, lived at 213 wheeler av., also friends with Bill And Josh donnan, Doug Walker (desecesd) Harvey Guest, we played endless ball hockey and boorby in the school yard you were a goalie, long time ago, best time of my life lol

After a long winded reply to Allan I just discovered you already replied to him 3 years ago. O well, good to stay in touch with old friends

Well Allan, I forget how I arrived on this site but find it very interesting to read all this old familiar history and to my surprise I find one of the nicest guys my older brother John had as a friend. I was looking at a realestate listing of our old house on Wheeler to find it last sold in 2018 for $1.67 millions, our great grand father built it for $900.00 . I remember you being a great athlete. A couple of years ago I was sorting through old photos of all the local guys playing hockey on our little back yard rink my dad used to put in each year and you are in them along with the Donnans , Walkers and my best buddy Doug Smyth who I have re-connected with on face book. John lives in Whitby now with his wife, still very much an athlete too, still running marathons and biking at 71. My wife and I also left Ontario 2 years ago and reside in Gaspereaux PEI Panmure Island Area which is on the Northumberland straight. The beach here always reminds me of growing up in the beach when I was a kid. Were going back for our annual visit to Ontario in May so I’ll be sure to let John know we spoke.

Does anyone remember the Ashbridges – on Wheeler Avenue, specifically Mary Jane Ashbridge?
My Grandparents (Cassidy) built 53 Wheeler … my mother (Beryl Cassidy) was born there in November 1922… also her older brother Paul Cassidy and her younger brother Lloyd Cassidy. My grandfather owned and operated Cassidy’s Garage on Lee Ave behind the Chinese Grocery Store .. I think it’s a Foodland now. We (me and my siblings) spent a lot of time there at the Beach, til almost 1970. In the 50’s I remember Wheeler Avenue was cobblestones, not paved back then and the milk was delivered by horse and buggy… and the horse wouldn’t move past 53 Wheeler until it got a treat, like a piece of carrot! Such fond memories… As a young woman I rented at 2327 Queen at MacLean.

Hi Ric, I remember that rink in your backyard. Our home movies show Lynn and I , you and Josh skating. That must have been 1962 after my family returned from our journey to Belfast. Later that year I believe mom and dad bought 211 Lee and Heather was born July 1 1963.
I wonder if you remember the Petrie family from Wheeler. They were a German family including their grandmother and Karin and Betty. Karin and I are same age , went to school together, Williamson rd and Malvern. We’ve recently reconnected on FB and her mom is with her, in her 90’s.
The Lee Ave article prompted a lovely walk down memory lane.
Cheers, Janet

This is my 2nd or 3rd time on this site. I remember you and Lynne starting kindergarten garden together. Wonderfull to hear from friends we grew up with in the beaches. My parents are gone now, John lives in Whitby, Lynne lives in Greenbank Port Perry and my wife and I retired to PEI in 2017. I re-connected with my childhood friend Doug Smyth who lives in Ottawa a couple of years ago. He was visiting the old neighbourhood this summer and sent me some sad photos of 213 wheeler being demolished, our old house all gone now plus Airabells house where you guys lived too. 3 new houses being built now on the property. Were do you live and how is the rest of your family.

I remember you, good friend and team mate of my older brother. He lives in Whitby, I retired to PEI in 2027. Got some great old pics of the back yard rink on wheeler. I’m still in touch with my old buddy Doug Smyth. Always remember the beaches was such a great place growing up. Take care I’ll let John know I contacted you,

Allan, I enjoyed reading your Beach recollection. I grew up at 35 Bellefair, delivered the Telegram, went to Williamson Rd Junior, Glen Ames Senior to Danforth Tech through the ’60s. I visit the Boardwalk when I can! I would like to hear from others who grew up in the Beach!

Hi Allan,
I live now in the house you grew up. Purchased by your parents Henry Gibson and your mom Phyllis. I live here since 2014. The funny thing is that my husband name is also Henry. funny .
I am contacting you here because we recently demolished the room that was in the basement and was built by your father i believe. We found a note in the wall, written on the wood panel and it says “ Phyllis Gibson labor, Kate Stemp oversee” . Now i realized that it is your mom! Can she be the builder of the room? Also i found a pin and a coin in the wall of a upstair bedroom. Would love to show those pictures to you. Hope this message find you well

Hi Pascaline,
I am John Gibson Allan’s older brother. My father Henry built that room many years ago as a playroom/crafts room where our old coal bin was once located before we switched to an oil- fired furnace.. His wife, Phyllis (my mother) helped him for sure but dad was the builder. Kate Stemp was a neighbour from up the street and at one time a friend of my mother. I also went to Williamson R. and Malvern along with my good friend Peter Davis who lived at 256 Lee.

hi John,
thanks for your reply. understood now that your father was Henry Gibson and your mom Phyllis Caudle and Kate Stemp a neighbour. Well, we enjoy your childhood home for 8 years now and find it fascinating to find more and more information on the history of it.
it was nice speaking to you and take good care


My name is Peter Gibson. My fathers name is Paul. He is the older brother of John and Allan. Dad is in great health and about to turn 90. I just stumbled across these conversations while looking for some details about my great aunt Nancy Wright who was a beaches artist. Dad and I just discussed this and we would LOVE to see the note and pin. We are super interested. If my grandmother tucked that in the wall 80 years ago while joking someone may find it one day then this is incredible to me.

I have meticulously documented our family history on FamilySearch. Things like this are of the utmost interest to me.

If you see this message can you PLEASE email me? I suggested to dad that we buy you a nice bottle of wine and see if you will let us visit. He lives in Etobicoke now so we could be there in 30 minutes easily except for Toronto traffic :)).

Very Best,
Peter Gibson

Hi Peter,
Its july 27 2023 and we just met your Dad! Wow! What a surprise ! And good health you say, my God incredible , he looks like he is 70 !
We had a good time chatting but unfortunately he took pictures of our home in a messy shape! Bed was not made etc… hahaha! My husband and I are trilled to meet you guys . Your Dad ledt with the pin, the coin , many pictures , some wood from the basement wall ( old shipping boxes) and your old address sign! We would love to have you over for drink and food . We have left my email and phone number to your Dad and THANK YOU for the nice bottle of wine he brought to us!

My mom and dad bought the house at 121 Lee Avenue in 1969, I believe, and still live there. My brothers and I all grew up there. My mom was saying yesterday that she thinks the people from whom they bought the house had 8 girls. I found this webpage when I was looking around to see if I could figure out who that family was, and if any of them would ever like to see the house. My dad’s not doing so well anymore and my mom is having a hard time too. I think it might be meaningful to her to meet the people who lived there before us, because it will help give her some sense of the house continuing through time, even if one day she has to leave it.

I think the house was built in 1905. The back of it was renovated in the 80s. It’s declined badly over the last 20 years, for financial and other reasons, but it’s still quite a beautiful house. Too bad none of my brothers and I could actually afford to buy it from my parents at market value when the day finally comes when they can’t live there any more. And it’s so big and so much work that I’m not sure any of us could justify living there anymore, at least not without a big family. I hope one day it will be restored to its full beauty. It would make my mom so happy to know that it was cared for.

And I remember the Woolworths at Queen and Lee and the IGA. They were central parts of our lives. Also the baseball diamond, the play by play announcer calling out the names of people who won free chicken dinners, as well as for…

Good times….I was a kid and sold popcorn and pop at the baseball diamond. Bought my first Christmas present for my Dad at Woolworths………………..

Tara, I don’t know if you remember me I was your neighbor at 117 lee ave… Sorry to hear about your parents, I always like your mom. The house before you r family was owned by an Air force captain and they had 5 girls. they lived there for 3 or 4 years before he was transferred. before him was Paul and Marion Tait. They were there when we moved in in 1955. Hope that sheds some light on your old home. James

Hi Jen, my mother lived there from 1955 to 2002, there have been a lot of changes in that house. too many to write about. if you would like to call me at 905 7755632 I would love to update them for you. She sold that house for 580.000. in 2002 to a woman who did radio and tv I believe her last name was Taylor. If I am ever now in TO I would love to call on you to see the house again if its ok with you.

Hi James. I grew up at 115 since 1997. My parents are still there. We knew the pictons before us however wondering if you had any info on the history of our house and who your neighbours were? Thanks!!

Your all new comers I lived at Kingston Rd and Queen right where the street cars would turn, went to Kew Beach school before it became a Jr school actually we were the last grade 8s at the school.Played hockey well into the night down at the hockey rinks .Hung around Pantry Park and we used to be at the beach everyday in the summer.I remember when the Lutey lifeguard station used to be at the bottom of Kippendavie Ave Wouldn,t change a thing it was a great place to grow up lived there from 12 yrs old to 30 something

Living in the Philippines for the last 10 yrs but still think about the great times old girlfriends Little Diana restaurant

I remember Eric vert well. We were the last grade 8 class at Kew Beach. Mr. Smith was the teacher and Bob Savage was the principal. I lived at 6 Kew Beach then moved to Maclean Ave when I was in grade 10 atMCI

Great reading all the.memories my sister and myself live in Kingston. The Beach was so homey we went to Norway Public school and then Malvern . Grew up on the Boardwalk learned tennis at the courts. My sister stayed in the beach running an antique store on Queen. Unfortunately the atmosphere changed and the whole are became too expensive. We come home occasionally to walk the Boardwalk. I still have my old Once a Beacher t shirt I see the spirit still lives.

I always tell people what a great store Nelson’s Antiques was. What was the cat’s name, was it Johnny? My best to Carole and Sarah.

Hello, I was wondering if you know anything about the house at 304 Lee Ave. My mother was born there. It is now got a plaque on it that say “kitty hall”. I can’t find any information but found this post and I am hoping you might have more information. My mother was born in 1930 and came to this house when released from hospital.
Thanks so much!

My mother was born in Victoria Hospital in 1930 I have discovered. Would anyone know the reason for the name Kitty Hall on the front of the home now? We passed by it this past weekend. Thank you.

My grandparents (Joseph William and Josephine Lizzie Brooks) moved to Toronto from London immediately after their marriage in c1910. They lived at 146 Lee Avenue, and I have a photograph of the house which my grandma sent to her sister-in-law fairly soon after their arrival. My father was born there in 1912 and his sister in 1914. As I understand it, my grandad, who was an electrical engineer, was in partnership with the Siemens brother and went to Canada to open a branch there. Apparently one of the brothers was naturalised British and the other remained German, and at the outbreak of WW1 it must have all gone a bit pear-shaped and grandad came back to the UK in 1915. I think they had a traumatic crossing – apart from the danger of torpedoing, the two children were at an age when they must have been quite a handful, and my grandmother was terribly seasick the whole time. They travelled back on the SS Rotterdam, and I have a postcard in my grandad’s writing to my father, which says ‘Souvenir of birthplace and SS Rotterdam in which we all returned to England after missing passage on SS Lusitania’. So maybe they were due to travel on her and then she was torpedoed? I don’t know.
I am 75 now, but would still very much like to visit Toronto to see the area they must have known.

My brother sent me your article by email, as I now live in Broadstairs, Kent UK! My grandparents lived at 19 Lee Ave until Grandpa retired. My family moved to a house above Queen St about 1953 I think. I often think the reason I love living in Broadstairs is that it is so much like the Beach! I have many fond memories of those younger days.

Margaret,. I enjoyed reading your Beach recollections. I grew up at 35 Bellefair, went to Williamson Rd Junjor and Glen Ames Senior School before Danforth Tech in the 60’s. Before all of that, my grandfather, William James Weller came from Kent. We’ve traced his family in Kent back to the 1200’s. Brian.Weller

Thanks for the information, I am a relatively new Beacher, I bought 307 Lee in 1985, on the ravine back of the Ames Estate so I believe. I love the history of the Beach. I think my house was most likely built in wartime.
Many thanks.
Shirley Decoom@n

All those homes on the east side of Lee backing onto the Ames estate were built around the early 50’s. As a kid we used to play in and around them when they were being built. As I recall a man named Longo used to tell us to scram when we were on the properties.

We lived at 169 the Duffy’s my Grandfather was at 173 Harper Wells he was the custodian at Glen Manor United. Memories for a lifetime.

I lived next-door at 175 from ’53-’66. Your grandparents were super nice neighbours as were you and your entire family. Always remembered fondly. I never knew your grandpa’s first name. Harper is an interesting name. Do you remember the folks at 177 Lee in those days. Jim Barr was a WWWI veteran who worked at the Waterworks. His wife was named Edith I think. Their daughter Bernice (Simpson) and granddaughter Sandra (Simpson) lived with them until Bernice bought a house down the street (somewhere between 141-149 a I recall).

Hey Joe we lived at 157, the bellman’s and my parents at 176. I remember you all and your grandparents as well.

Re: Ali Raza article regarding the late Shirley Jones.

Thank you Ali for the article regarding Shirley Jones. Her husband Skip was spot on when he would tell the Jones children “Your mother is a wonderful woman”.
I had the pleasure of knowing Shirley almost 40 years and will miss her. She was always very good to my children and me.
What a great life-well lived.
My condolences to the Jone’s family.

Victoria, Matt and
Brian Spanton

Great to hear some of this history. My grandparents owned 210 Lee Avenue. They were Edwin (Sr) and Carolyn Davies. My father (and his siblings) were born there. This would be circa 1910. I remember many special occasions being there throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. My father and grandfather passed away in 1966, but my grandmother continued living there for a number of years after that. Would like to hear about any connections to them.

Hello everyone. Thanks for all the interesting information!

I am looking for more information on 33 Lee Avenue. I see in the above article a reference to a hotel owned by Wm. Thompson, at 31 Lee Ave. I was under the impression from an old real estate video ad that 33 Lee Avenue used to also operate as a hotel in the early 1900s. Is it possible that the above referenced hotel at 31 Lee Ave was actually at 33 Lee Ave?

Does anyone happen to know the name of the Lee Ave hotel? I’m trying to find some archival photographs of it. I’m also wondering if the structure that is now the garage behind 33 Lee Ave (on Violet) used to be used as a stable to house the horses of hotel guests.

Thanks for any info!


I grew up at 16 Hsmmersmith Ave.
In the 70’s. Went to Williamson Rd. publix school. Then Glen Ames Thrn Malvern. I remember Woolworths. The Ice storm that tore up board walk. So many memories of the Beach. Swimming in the lake. Good memories.

In the 50’s/early 60’s, our family lived at 278-1/2 Lee and then moved across the street when my brother showed up to 277.

Allan , John, Ric, it’s Josh Donnan, hope this finds you all in good health. I live in Oshawa, and Bill is doing fine in Lindsay. Our sisters, are well too, Heather and Janet. Boy, we sure had fun, back then. I sometimes drive down to the old area and sure has changed like everything else. Allan, your house is still there, as yours John & Ric. I will leave you my e-mail, and will tell Bill about this. John, remember your Dad giving Bill the Little Gem?

Hey Josh, It’s Ric Collins, been on here a couple of times ,but not since early 2021 so your post is a new one to me. Last time Janet saw my name and replied. My wife and I retired in 2017 and retired to PEI. Lots of great memories of the old days on Wheeler. I re-connected with Doug Smyth a couple of years ago now living in Ottawa, we stay in touch often on face book. He was in Toronto visiting back in the old neighborhood last summer and took some photo’s of our house and Tomilsons being demolished to make room for 3 new houses. Our place sold for 1.67 million and I still have the original mortgage papers for the lot and house when my great grand parents had it built in 1902 for $900.00 Glad to hear everyone is well and assume all us old farts are retired. Speaking of farts, I do remember the “Little Gem”. I think the last time I saw you was at an anniversary party at Johns in Whitby for Mom and Dad. We also lived in Whitby at the time, then moved east to Castleton Ontario in 89 and then retired in 2017 and really moved east to Gaspereaux PEI on the south eastern shore of the Island. We have 3 kids who gave us 6 grand kids, my oldest daughter and son and families are still in Ontario and my youngest daughter and her family moved to PEI near us in 2018. A friend of my wife, who was dating a guy she brought to a party we were at in Pickering was telling me about how he grew up in the BEACHES, and thought you might remember him Jack Blakeley, lives on Beaufort Rd in…



My grandparents and his parents owned 71 Lee Avenue. My grandfather, Harry and his brother, John had a butcher shop on Queen Street. The home at 71 served as a family gathering place until my grandmother went to Central Park Lodge and then Riverdale. Her son, Bill was the sole inheritor of the property. He moved his family in until it had to be sold this week. It is with great sadness that I see that property leave Clayton hands. My mother was a Clayton but unfortunately had no part in the inheritance, as did her sister Jettie. Sad days.

I lived at 284 Lee from ‘66 – ‘79 with my family. It was the best neighborhood to grow up in. My mother used to take me, my brother and our cousins to the beach every day in the summer. It was idyllic. I remember the Woolworths store and the IGA very well. I would love to hear from anyone who lived in the neighbourhood during that time.

Click here for our commenting guidelines.

Leave a Reply