Leslieville, located in South Riverdale just East of the Don River Valley and just below the Gerrard Street, is one of Toronto’s most talked about neighbourhoods and for good reason – the story is irresistible.

The Leslie in Leslieville was one of the area’s first businessmen, who ran a nursery with his sons. Alexander Muir, composer of the famous song The Maple Leaf Forever was inspired, it is said, when one of the red maple leaves from one of the Leslie’s trees fell onto his shoulder.

Light industry and the factory workers who supported it made up the heart and soul of quiet Leslieville for most of its life. Eventually the neighbourhood went into decline, and with the addition of public housing complexes and the land being famously contaminated by the factories, Leslieville took a turn for the gritty, coming to a head in 2000 when the A. R. Clarke Tannery burned to the ground.

But from those ashes rose the new Leslieville. That special combination of low rent costs and its close proximity to downtown Toronto invited the creative class to move in. Gentrifying at a slower, safer speed than many other newly-hip neighbourhoods in Toronto, Leslieville seems set to be one of the hottest places in town for years to come.

Leslieville today is defined by the memories of its recent crumbling past and the many dynamic businesses and people that are moving in. From vintage furniture to independent cafés to schools, parks and amenities, not to mention the neighbourhood’s arguable status as Toronto’s brunch capital, it’s no wonder Leslieville is home to some of Toronto’s most vocally loyal residents.

A fuller profile of Leslieville is being developed and will appear in this place shortly. To contribute to the profile or to publish your own impressions or memories of life in this community, email the editors at [email=stringers@mytowncrier.ca]stringers@mytowncrier.ca[/email].