Leslieville Lives; Stories from the ‘Ville – Aubrey Clyke Jr. aka Junior

Meet Junior. When I had my first dog, George, back in 2004, every morning we would walk up Hiltz Ave., en route to Greenwood Park. Occasionally we would see a guy on his bike riding up or down and he’d wave. Then the wave turned into ‘Mornin’ Darlin’. I remembered ‘that voice’. Loud and deep. It was fit for radio. I imagined hearing it on a Jazz station or as a deep baritone/bass in a choir. He stopped one day and gave George a nice head scratch and we exchanged our hellos again. Ever since then, I’ve been seeing Junior riding his bike around Leslieville, or doing work in people’s gardens, on their roofs or doing renovations. I always shout out a ‘Hi’. He eventually came and did some work for me (and most likely many of you!) too. From George, to Gracie and now Sunshine, whenever we see him, we always stop, or wave, have a chat. There’s something about Junior.

The 4th oldest of twelve (!) kids, Junior hails from the east coast; more specifically, near Antigonish, Nova Scotia. His mom, Christina, was born into the slave settlements that started in New England and ran up the east coast into Canada. His dad, Aubrey Sr., was of French Canadian and Mi’kmaq/Metis descent. Large families were encouraged back then. The government gave grants of land to settle and work/live off. He recalls a happy childhood, and even as a young kid, Junior was working as a logger/pulp cutter in the mill and in the farming and fishing industries after school.

In 1974, at the age of 18, being a bit of an ‘adventurer’, he left N.S. and headed for Toronto where one of his brothers and other relatives lived.  “I planned to go for 2 weeks”, he laughs. That was 43 years ago. “Toronto was the place to be – the land of opportunity Di!” He’s worked in every conceivable job since, from foundry work, to roofing, as a mail sorter at Canada Post and ten years as a driver for Toronto Barber & Beauty Supply.

In 1980 he moved from his Dundas W. neighbourhood over to the east end. “Some of my relatives lived over here and I found the east end nicer. The people as well.” His first digs were at Logan & Queen and he’s lived on pretty much every street in Leslieville since, including Queen, Logan, West Ave, Boston, Hiltz and Leslie St.

Needless to say, Junior made a lot of friends fast. And he liked to party. That resulted in a criminal record after a serious amount of crack was found at one of his house parties in the early 80s. He was charged (federally) with possession/intent to traffic, serving the better part of a year in jail for it. He maintains his innocence, but became a bit of a whipping boy after that for the police and for years was tormented, stopped, profiled, harrassed. He was dubbed ‘The Kingpin of Queen’ by the head of 55 Division way back when. He laughs. “Those guys are gone now, but they knew I knew a lot of people and were probably hoping their torment would make me snitch. Which I never did. I was even stopped while on my bike on Hiltz one day by a cop on a horse! It doesn’t get crazier than that.” His sense of humour must’ve saved him. He’s always smiling and/or laughing. Despite this, he rose above it and got on with his life. In the early 90s, with the promise of long term work he did a gruelling 8 month course in the construction trade. Sadly, the bottom fell out of the industry shortly after and the long term work lasted … 2 1/2 years.

Love came calling in early 2000 when he met a woman from New Zealand. He nearly left us for the Antipodes, but never made the trip. “I’d never even been on a plane!”. We both laugh. “She came back to visit but it eventually petered out”.

Since then Junior has been working in/out of the neighbourhood as a handyman, contractor, landscaper, woodworker. And in crews for larger reno/industrial jobs.  “So what about your relationship with the cops now?” I ask. “Oh, it’s fine. One day 3 or 4 years ago I just walked into 55 Division, slammed my fist down and demanded to file a harassment report against a few of the cops there. I never did, but I think they finally got the message I meant business”. Yep, don’t get on Junior’s bad side. “You know, it was the weirdest thing Di. Some of the people I’ve crossed paths with in my life who really put my nose out of joint, I secretly wished a curse upon them. And not long after, I heard they died! Of course I didn’t do anything but there you go eh? Ya better be a nice person, because bad people get theirs in the end. And no, I didn’t make voodoo dolls!” He smiles that trademark huge grin and laughs in that low bellow. You can’t help but join him.

As we wrap up, we walk out of the cafe and he gets on his bike. “Hey, you left your bike out here unlocked for nearly 2 hours?” I say. “I know all the thieves in the ‘hood Di. No one would dare.” He laughs again and cycles away.

If  you don’t know Junior or haven’t seen him around Leslieville, you will now. Say ‘Hi’ and get a dose of friendly. And you’ll get that bonus bass/baritone.

40 Comments
  • Jo-Anne Cameron

    January 17, 2017 at 9:46 am Reply

    Lovely I am sorry I haven’t met him yet. Thanks again Diane

    • diane

      January 17, 2017 at 10:53 am Reply

      Thanks Jo-Anne. Now that surprises me! I thought you might know him. You’ll probably see him around now.

      • laura king

        April 25, 2017 at 1:32 am Reply

        Old Salty Dog!! Wow he has a son Adam Clyke he never ever went to see a shame !

        • diane

          May 1, 2017 at 9:15 am Reply

          I just found that out! I saw him the other day and asked ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ He said ‘You didn’t ask’. So Junior. I think they’ll be in touch soon. I’ve email exchanged with Adam’s sister.

        • Megan Goos

          July 9, 2018 at 8:50 pm Reply

          Adam has a half brother and would like to get in contact with you guys 🙂

          • diane

            July 12, 2018 at 11:18 pm

            Hi Megan, Please see comments above from Sheldon. He would like to get together with Adam. Sheldon and Junior met today after a very long time! So cool.

        • Sheldon

          July 12, 2018 at 3:17 pm Reply

          Dear laura I would really like it if u contacted me I would love to meet u and my half brother…

        • Sheldon Golloher

          July 12, 2018 at 6:21 pm Reply

          Please contact sheldon golloher as I’d like to meet adam my half brother
          I’m on facebook

    • Sarah Jackson Knowles

      February 13, 2017 at 2:28 pm Reply

      Great guy

  • Stephen Findlay

    January 17, 2017 at 9:58 am Reply

    Love this!

  • Nancy Bennett

    January 17, 2017 at 10:43 am Reply

    I lived on Hiltz and said Hi to quite a few times. It only took a couple of greetings for me to get over my “stranger on a bike trying to talk to me” fear and start answering back.

    • diane

      January 17, 2017 at 10:55 am Reply

      Me too. Super friendly. I think it took half a dozen waves before he stopped and scratched George’s head ;). I love his demeanor. No matter what kind of situation he’s in, he always seems to see the good side!

  • Janice

    January 17, 2017 at 10:48 am Reply

    It’s so important and special that you introduce us to your “people” !

    • diane

      January 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm Reply

      Thanks Janice…I think? I’m not sure I understand your comment, but I take you liked the story – and know Junior?

  • Arthur Castle

    January 17, 2017 at 11:35 am Reply

    Known junior for years ..great guy give you the shirt of his back ..

    • diane

      January 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm Reply

      Indeed he would! Good to see all these nice comments about him. I really like him.

  • Harold

    January 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm Reply

    I met Junior a couple of years ago working at my daughters house on Hiltz. I love to see him riding his bike in the neighbourhood and it’s a pleasure to talk to Junior. I hope we can be friends for a long time yet. Blessings to you junior.

    • diane

      January 18, 2017 at 10:50 am Reply

      Me too Harold :). He’s a breath of fresh air with the smile and laugh. Glad I could give him a little plug here. He’s had his troubles, but he’s a lovely man. I’ll make sure he sees all these nice comments.

  • Alex Walker

    January 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm Reply

    Junior is one of the nicest guys I know. Been around the hood for forever.

    • diane

      January 17, 2017 at 7:30 pm Reply

      Indeed Alex! Great guy. Always has a smile on.

  • cyrus

    January 18, 2017 at 7:16 am Reply

    Absolutely love this man! Nice article!!

    • diane

      January 18, 2017 at 10:51 am Reply

      Thanks Cyrus! He’s a popular guy. And a lovely one as well.

  • Deb Dorsey

    January 19, 2017 at 11:58 am Reply

    There, but for the grace – we all go.

  • nicoleburley

    January 30, 2017 at 11:49 am Reply

    Great read – thanks Diane!

  • MCMANUS DON

    February 19, 2017 at 3:43 am Reply

    Another ‘Hiltzian’ who considers Junior a ‘Pal’. If you see him, be sure you ask for his ‘Business Card’. You need something done right & quick, there’s his cel. #, { a gift phone from a FAN! } As with all casual & self employed folks, the more people who know him the more jobs he can do. Lots of ups & downs in Junior’s life, so every little bit helps. And you’ll both enjoy the experience, in every way, & have some fun & enlightenment at the same time. We have a pop in chat often. Thanx Junior!

  • jude

    February 28, 2017 at 4:56 am Reply

    My goodness, what one can find in google.
    This is amazing. Junior is a great guy. Unforgetable.
    Please send my best wishes to him, from his old New
    Zealand friend.

    • diane

      March 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm Reply

      Wow, New Zealand! I will pass on your hello to Junior 🙂

  • Darrell Nightingale

    March 23, 2017 at 9:45 pm Reply

    I met Jr. at the icy spicy fusion restaurant at Pape and Queen. We often have a coffee together and I really enjoy his sense of humour. Jr would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.
    He is a hard worker and very honest and I’m glad he got a good mention Diane.
    Cheers Darrell

    • diane

      March 23, 2017 at 9:56 pm Reply

      Thanks Darrell, Junior is a great guy. I’ll pass on your nice message.

  • Cat

    June 20, 2018 at 4:38 pm Reply

    Junior is my cousin by marriage and he is a wonderful guy, unfortunately not many in the family have seen him for many years and we all miss him.

  • Angel

    June 20, 2018 at 4:51 pm Reply

    Great Story 🙂 If you come around to see him again please tell him that is niece from Quebec, Angel says HI. Thanks!

    • diane

      June 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm Reply

      Thanks! I definitely will. I see Junior on and off around the neighbourhood.

  • Barbara Pelley

    June 21, 2018 at 9:31 am Reply

    Junior is my first cousin. His father and my mother are sis/ bro!. He came from a black community called Sunnyville..in Guysborough County

    • diane

      June 21, 2018 at 9:40 am Reply

      Cool! I did learn he wasn’t very good keeping in touch with people after I wrote this story. Bad Junior. I’ll pass on a hello when I next see him. He’s doing okay. He does a bit of handy work for me, so I give him business whenever I can. Very likeable guy I must say!

  • Joan clyke

    June 21, 2018 at 4:54 pm Reply

    Hi I am Jr sister and is very glad to know that he is OK love u very much hey sog hello this is your sis Doreen keep your love around the circle we all love you mom said hello and so does uncle roy

    • diane

      June 22, 2018 at 12:07 am Reply

      Hello! I will pass this on to Junior. Sounds like he has a lot of people out there who love & miss him.

  • Gabriella

    July 13, 2018 at 6:36 pm Reply

    Wow. I wish we had a Junior of our own in Yarraville Melbourne Australia. I will have to search for one . Please say hi from Australia to Junior. Let him know that he is a legend here too.

  • Janice

    July 19, 2018 at 8:07 am Reply

    Diane..I commented last year about your “people”…(see post above).. meant – just happy to hear about individuals that you meet and write about.. no, don’t know him but sounds like a great guy

  • Marjorie Kildare

    March 6, 2019 at 5:10 pm Reply

    While searching for Christina Clyke’s death notice, I came to this site and read about Aubrey Jr. Christina is Jr’s Mother and she died February 27th. Linda, Christina’s youngest child – yes, her 12th child – and Jr’s sister is a dear, dear friend. The family is grieving their great Mother’s death. So, please, I sure hope you’re able to pass this news to Aubrey Jr gently, if he doesn’t know already.

    • diane

      March 6, 2019 at 5:15 pm Reply

      So sorry to hear. I will certainly pass this on to Junior. I’m sure he knows. I believe someone in the family is in contact with him. Thanks for letting me know.

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