32 Years and Going Strong
By Bryan Gordon
You can find the neighbourhood of Humberlea in the south portion of Emery Village, located south of Sheppard Avenue, north of Wilson Avenue, east of the Humber River and west of the CPR railroad line. This community has an interesting history with the majority of the community development occurring to the east of the Humber River after 1945.
The post-war home construction boom was preceded by a small cluster of homes from the west bank of the Humber River to Weston Road dating back to the 1920’s said to be called Albion Park.
This Humberlea neighbourhood has held its community spirit together over the years including a special event in June 1986 that marked the closing of Melody Road Public School after serving as an educational and community link for 35 years.
Community events that tied the residents together included annual Victoria Day fireworks evenings, complete with hot dogs and beverages in the school yard, as well as summer festivals and winter carnivals at Strathburn Park.
In its beginning the neighbourhood parents and families were typically young post war families with several having more than just a handful of children. Melody Road Public School and its teachers saw several of these children start attending Melody Road from its first day in September 1951.
These are the words of a neighbour who remembered the opening day for Melody Road School.
“I attended Melody Road for the first time in 1951 when our Grade 4 teacher at the time...Miss Schultz.. marched us from Humberview (Public School) to the new school (Melody Road). Wonderful memory!”
Recent community reunions have taken place in 2010, a casual fall 2017 event that happened at Strathburn Park and on Saturday June 2, of this year another organized reunion took place at the Irwin Road Canadian Legion in Rexdale, the local legion home for many Humberlea men who had served Canada during World War II.
Children grew up, many moved away but many remained connected with each other through the years. Part of this connection was on display during the recent June 2nd reunion, with one of the earliest former Melody Road graduates in attendance – having graduated in 1953 with other attendees also from graduating years in the 1950’s. More than 150 attended the afternoon reunion with many happy faces, handshake greetings and hugs.
A memory shared by a graduate from the 1950’s tells some of the story of growing up in Humberlea:
“One story that made Humberlea real to me. When I returned from university once and a friend from university was visiting our place. We walked down to Mason’s (a Supertest fuel/service station and food counter on Weston Road) one day for a coffee. The five minute walk took a half hour as every house we passed had people asking about me and my family.
My friend was amazed at the friendship. This experience was unknown in her world and she was from a small town. We were family”.
Perhaps a casual summer barbecue at Strathburn Park in the next year or two might provide opportunity to continue the camaraderie of Humberlea.