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Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent 12 years of his childhood in Leaside and admits those memories will be forever hardwired into his consciousness.

He returned home Saturday for the Leaside 100 Gala, a celebration of the community’s 100 th anniversary and reminisced about his old neighbourhood.

“It really is a great thrill for me to be here tonight, it really is,” said Harper as he took to the podium to begin his speech at the All Canadian Self-Storage at Laird and Millwood drives.

“Leaside 1965 – that’s of course the Leaside I remember.”

Harper was about six-years-old around that time and spoke fondly and with passion about his memories of Leaside, which included the historical time when Canada was in the process of changing its flag. It’s a moment in time he remembers deeply dividing the Leaside community.

“Those of you who were alive then know emotions ran very high, many neighbours stopped speaking to one another. So intense were the differences,” recalled Harper.

He spoke of his return to the neighboorhood a few years back and recalled how “hauntingly identical” Leaside remained in comparison to the Leaside that was “hardwired” into his consciousness.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who also represents the area as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Don Valley West, also said a few kind words.

“My history with Leaside is much more recent,” said Wynne to a crowd of more than 100 people. Others in attendance included Don Valley West MP John Carmichael, local councillor John Parker and members of the Lea family.

“I have spent a lot of time I this community,” Wynne said. “I want to commend the people of Leaside who make it what it is. The care that you show each other and the commitment you show to your community is what I want for all of Ontario. That is the value I want across this province and his country.”

Anthony C. Lea is the great-grandson of John Lea, the farmer who bought the land and whose son would build a house on that land and call it Leaside. Eventually the land would be sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway, but the name remained.

“It was one of the first planned communities in Canada,” said Anthony Lea, a professional geographer.

“It’s a nice middle class neighbourhood, it’s got good mixed ethnic groups as well.”

Anthony Lea came to the gala to show his support for his family history and the community, which he still has a strong connection to.

“The farm building where my father was born is across the street from where I live at Sutherland and Lea Avenue.”

Anthony’s son John was also in attendance. Although John grew up in Thornhill, he, too, recently moved back to Leaside to raise a family; his son William was born in Leaside.

“My impression of Leaside has a lot to do with my family,” said John Lea.

“I have a lot of pride in the fact that this town still carries my name.”;