A true pioneer of early Toronto, John Lea Senior arrived from England via the US in 1819. York then had less than 2,000 inhabitants and only about two dozen shops. Lea bought 200 acres at a cost of 200 guineas on high ground east of Yonge Street (in present-day Leaside between Bayview Avenue, and Leslie Street, half a mile south of Eglinton). This was considered expensive; however, of the land was partly cleared, it was well drained, included a log house and there was a road over to Yonge Street. This road, called William Street, ended where present day Glebe Road meets Yonge.
Lea was joined by his wife, Mary, and their 5-year old son, William. He bought cows, planted an orchard of Northern Spy apples, and grew vegetables for market. The Leas had another son, John Junior, and a daughter, Mary. Ten years after he arrived, he was able to build a large two storied brick house with four chimneys near the site of the log house (about where today’s Laird Drive and Lea Avenue meet). It is claimed locally that this was the first brick house in York Township. Lea lived there until his death at age 81 in the 1840s, and his younger son lived there afterward.