The Henry Harold Harrison Family

113 Gledhill Avenue, East York, Toronto


The house at 113 Gledhill Avenue was built about 1918 by Henry Harold Harrison Sr., who was a carpenter by trade. Once Harold had finished the basement of the house, he covered it over. At that point, Harold, Agnes, and their three sons (Hank, John, and Gord) moved into the basement, which he had divided into three rooms. Son Douglas was born while the family was living in the basement. The upper floors of the house were completed by early 1922, in time for the birth of Harold and Agnes’s daughter. When the children were growing up, the four sons occupied one bedroom with the second reserved for the daughter. All of the Harrison children lived there until they married or, in the case of Douglas, joined the army. During the Depression, the family defaulted on the mortgage and lost ownership of the house; however, the mortgage holder, a kind woman by the name of Nellie Lapp, let the family stay in the house until Henry Harold (Hank) Harrison Jr. earned enough money to pay off the mortgage. Harold and Agnes lived there until sometime after Harold’s retirement in the early fifties.

The home at 113 Gledhill Avenue was located four blocks east of Woodbine Avenue and two long blocks north of Danforth Avenue. It was and is a typical East York house of the time – a two-story, three-bedroom brick house on about 30 feet of frontage. The principal rooms occupy the main floor and the bedrooms, the second floor.

Coming through the front door, to the left there was a “cloakroom” and to the right was the living room. Behind the living room was the dining room, which had a round oak pedestal dining table, six chairs, and a buffet. Between the dining and living rooms stood a floor model radio, typical of the 1930s. A doorway at the left side of the dining room led to the kitchen. Dominating the kitchen up until about the late 1940s was a large cast iron stove, after which time it was moved to the basement where Agnes would still use it to cook or bake during the hot weather.

On the second floor, in addition to the three bedrooms and a bathroom there was a sun porch that overlooked the backyard. One of the grandchildren remembers a steamer trunk there, which no doubt was brought over from the “old country” by either Harold or Agnes in the early 1900s.

From the kitchen, there were steps leading to the back door, and continuing around the corner, steps that led to the basement, and by the 1940s there was no longer any sign of the three rooms that had housed a family of five in the 1920s. It eventually contained, among other things, a work area for Harold, where in later years he patiently helped grandchildren “build” things.

The backyard contained several fruit trees – cherry, apple, and pear, planted by Harold, and lots of space for first the children, and then the grandchildren to play.

The home that Harold and Agnes built saw five children grow up and marry, and over the years became a gathering place for a family that, with spouses and grandchildren, eventually numbered twenty-five.



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