Looking for the Ghost of Leslie Creek

a creek … also started near the sandpit and ran through the gardens of Cooper’s, Bests and Hunters, crossed the road by the Leslie Postoffice. Here it joined a small creek that drained the nursery, and both crossed Leslie street under a bridge that has since been filled up by intersecting sewers.  
The Globe, January 18, 1918

Not much left to see of the creek and most of us don’t know it was there. But like all ghosts, it still can haunt us even many years later.

1211 Queen St. East – curb heaved up by frost and T.S.R. pole – May 4, 1915

This photo of 1211 Queen Street East shows a ghost of Leslie Creek.

Leslie Creek (now underground) crossed Queen Street and this curb was once a bridge, May 4, 1915

Leslie Creek originated in springs on the slope of the hill in the area of Strathcona Avenue and Eastview Park.

Goad’s Fire Plan, 1884, Plate 31 This was the year Riverside and Leslieville became part of the City of Toronto.
Leslie Creek, 1884. Leslie Creek is on the left, Hastings Creek is on the right. Sometimes they joined before entering Ashbridges Bay and sometimes they stayed separate. Both ran into Ashbridge’s Bay where the Loblaw’s Superstore parking lot is today. It was a cove called “The Gut” where fisher folk moored their boats.

It crossed the railway tracks where Gerrard Square’s parking garage is now.

Leslieville creeks 1909, labelled

According to Elsie Hays, an old East Ender that I interviewed, it was a small brook that ran through an orchard west of Galt Avenue. She caught minnows in it when she was a child (before World War One).  It crossed Gerrard where there is a shallow dip in the road to mark it. 

Two branches of the creek came together and crossed the GO Train tracks (GTR) east of Marjory Avenue where it took a turn left.  One branch of Leslie Creek was dammed in the late nineteenth century to form Maple Leaf Skating Rink at Pape and Gerrard, behind the Maple Leaf Tavern. There are remnants of a ravine west of Marjory Avenue south of Gerrard. Then the creek swung diagonally southeast to cross Dundas at Dagmar.

1902 map showing Leslie Creek

It continued south to cross Jones Avenue at #61 Jones Avenue where there was heavy basement flooding.

Flooded cellars on Jones Avenue were nothing new, but this must have been exceptional. Globe, April 26, 1918

It ran behind the stores on the north side of Queen Street (George Leslie’s house and selling grounds) and crossed at 1211 Queen Street East.

1211 Queen St. East, the house has since been torn down, May 4, 1915
1211 Queen St. East – curb heaved up by frost and T.S.R. 00

From there It continued south, curving east to enter Ashbridge’s Bay at the foot of Laing Street where there was a cove called the Gut.

The Gut is where the Loblaws Super Store and City of Toronto Works Yard are now.

A map of Ashbridge’s Bay showing Leslie Street, the old shoreline and the marsh. Don’t be confused. South is at the top of the map and north is on the bottom — the opposite of what we are used to.
The Duke of York Tavern, May 4, 1915
The Duke of York Tavern, May 4, 1915
Ashbridge’s Bay 1852
Ashbridges Bay, John Willson, 1900

Published by Leslieville Historical Society

Welcome to the Leslieville Historical Society's website. Please feel free to join us, to ask questions, to attend walking tours and other events, and to celebrate Leslieville's past while creating our future. Guy Anderson, President, Leslieville Historical Society and Joanne Doucette, local historian and webmaster.

2 thoughts on “Looking for the Ghost of Leslie Creek

  1. Coke allie? the gas works, how it was made etc Booth ave& Eastern ave,a story would be great,coke ash that fell
    Onto everything,and what was eventually done?jat

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