A “Vanished” School Reappears

Back in March, we wrote about three “vanished” schools and invited contributions of photos or reminiscences. Thanks to two blog readers, we add a few details to the story of Grand Avenue School, in Humber Bay, Etobicoke.

Kjell Nordenson, shown here with his father and sister, enjoyed Grand Avenue School days.
Kjell Nordenson, shown here with his father and sister, enjoyed Grand Avenue School days.

Kjell Nordenson attended Grand Avenue School in the 1960s. He didn’t have a photo of the building, but sent a description.

“The building was probably the standard three-storey school building construction of that time—probably about half the size of the General Mercer PS shown on your link. The students’ entrance was through the smaller side door to the south. Parents and visitors would come through the north doors. Believe there were at least four classrooms on each floor. On the main floor, this would also have included the “office” and the principal’s office plus sub-divided areas such as the nurse’s room. There were stairs on each end of the building and a full basement where kindergarten, washrooms, and the janitor rooms were located. An auditorium was added on the west side in the early 60s. Directly west of the school was York Litho Ltd. where I worked for a number of years. In winter, there was a skating rink.”



Wendy Gamble lives on Seventh Street, New Toronto, in the house her maternal grandparents moved into in 1917. She has sent us additional information about Grand Avenue School, Humber Bay, New Toronto, and family connections to both World Wars. In 2014, the Etobicoke Historical Society gave Wendy the Jean Hibbert Memorial Award for her long commitment to local history.

Sailor in uniform in front of house
Ross Gamble of the Royal Canadian Navy ready for WWII

“My dad and two uncles were in the navy in World War II. My dad, John Ross Gamble, was born in 1917. He lived at 9 Afton Avenue, Humber Bay until he was nine years old, so he went to Grand Avenue School for a few years. His house was on what became the lawn of Christie’s Bakery (Park Lawn and Lakeshore). He was named after a next-door neighbour, John Ross Pollard, a Great War motorcycle driver who died at Vimy.

I have a story about my grandmother’s brother coming to visit during WWI. My grandfather, Jack Wylie, whose eyesight kept him from serving, met his brother-in-law, John Kelusky, at the train station. Heading home, they got as far as Sunnyside, where the rail car service stopped for the night. My grandfather and my great uncle walked from Sunnyside all the way to New Toronto along the old Lakeshore road. The road was not lighted, so they struck matches along the way to get their bearings.

That great uncle, John Kelusky, and his brother William, were both in the army. They looked after ambulance horses. John was gassed, and although he made it back to Canada, died of lung disease (caused by the gas) in 1918. He is buried in Maynooth, Hastings County, near the family farm, and is named on the war memorial in Bancroft.”

As a young couple, Jack and Etta (Kelusky) Wylie welcomed Etta's brother for one last visit.
As a young couple, Jack and Etta (Kelusky) Wylie welcomed Etta’s brother for one last visit.
John Kelusky walked by match light five miles or more to see family before going off to the Great War.

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