Alcoholics Anonymous History In Your Area
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Leaside Celebrates 50 Years
The members of the Leaside Group have more than a Millennium celebration to think about in the year 2000. This January 11, the group will mark 50 years of continuous service and the gratitude is just spilling over. The anniversary celebration will be held on January 13.
Gene M. has been a member of the group for 32 years. He remembers joining the meeting just before it moved in 1968 to its current location at 670 Eglinton Ave. East, at Hanna Road. Though nearly blind now, Gene travels every Thursday to the church, walks down the two small flights of stairs, and waits to greet his friends by the meeting’s kitchen window.
Debbie B., a member of Leaside for the last 10 years, asks Gene if he wants some coffee. Yes and make it black.
Gene remembers his first sponsor, a man by the name of Rusty, who, along with his wife Alice, started the Leaside group on January 11, 1950. Back then it was one of the first few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Toronto, recalls Gene.
“I told him I’d be back if I could stay sober for 17 hours,” says Gene.
Celebrating 33 years of continuous sobriety in March, Gene’s one-year medallion was held at the Hanna Road location.
He remembers the church basement was new and everyone was excited because of the group’s new location.
Since then Gene has seen it all. “We’ve had a lot of new ones (alcoholics). They come and go,” he says, adding, “a lot of the old ones are also gone; either they moved away or died.”
The Leaside Group members, four in total, are used to that, says Debbie. Though membership may be small at this group, the people who regularly frequent this meeting like the intimacy that is shared there.
Gene says. “I find that’s what really keeps us going right now, people from other groups, such as Noreen F., and Jim, who really help us out.”
At one point, before Debbie’s time, the meeting had 22 members, recalls Gene. “We were never what you call a large group.”
“That’s my favorite part,” says Debbie, “the intimacy.”
Gene adds that he doesn’t really like large groups. “It’s too easy to get lost,” he says, but adds quickly that he would never discourage anyone from wanting to join Leaside.
“We stay open because the newcomer keeps coming,” Debbie says as she passes Gene his coffee.
That’s all anyone can ask after 50 years of service.
Copyright © January 2000, Better Times, GTA Intergroup, Toronto, Canada