A Tour of St. Phillip’s Anglican Church and Cemetery

On a lovely autumn day last Sunday, a few dozen Westonians gathered on the grounds of St. Phillip’s Anglican Church to learn more about it and the people who lived in Weston.  The event was organized by the Weston Historical Society.

Founded in 1828, the church is located at Dixon Road and St. Phillips Road, on the west side of the Humber River. Built in the modern gothic design, the church has a large white cross on its roof, several stunning glass windows (that date back to the eighteen hundreds) and a cemetery.



The original church was built largely out of wood and was sadly destroyed by a fire in 1888. While many of the original fixtures were lost, an organ was saved. A small circle of red stained glass (seen below) was also saved and was incorporated in this one of the new windows when the church was rebuilt 1894.
By 1930, 50 families attended the church and the numbers soon grew. By 1936, the church had electricity.

After our brief tour of the interior of the church, we went outside to tour the cemetery and to learn more about the people who lived and died in Weston.

The stories are fascinating. We were told about the lives of politicians, business people, blacksmiths, doctors, and farmers. We learned about people who lived well into their 80’s and some who sadly died far too young.

The first tombstone we stopped at was of John Conron. Mr. Conron was one of Weston’s earliest councillors, a member of the Conservative party and was one of Weston’s oldest residents (he was 91 years old when he died).

We also learned about the Eagle family (a name familiar to many Westonians) who moved to Weston in 1883 from Brantford. When the family opened the Eagle House so many years ago they could not have known that only a few years later a railroad station would be built close by, helping their business prosper.

There are so many interesting people who rest in St. Phillip’s Anglican cemetery, including dreamers and risk takers like Joseph Griffith, who in the eighteen hundreds left his home in Ireland with his 19-year-old wife, crossed the ocean and found a lovely piece of land close to the Humber River. Mr. Griffith made money as a farmer and lived at Weston Road and Jane Street.

The tombstones are in all shapes and sizes. Some are large and still very much intact; others are faded and almost completely covered by grass. These are the lives I am the most curious about.  One can’t help but wonder who these people were., and why they chose to live in Weston.

Perhaps the most unique grave (pictured below) is that of Reverend W.A. Johnson. While we were not told why Reverend Johnson was buried by this elm tree, we did learn that this mighty elm likely was felled because of Dutch elm disease.

The tour lasted roughly an hour and a half. It was well organized and those who attended were left with a wealth of knowledge about Weston’s past. Thank you to Cherri Hurst, Mary Louise Ashbourne, Randle Reid and the rest of the team at the Weston Historical Society for organizing such a great event!

If you like sushi, you need to try this place!

If you are like me, you love sushi!

Now I am no sushi expert, but I have certainly eaten my share of California rolls, cucumber maki and tempura. In fact, truth be told, I am one of those people who, if I could, I would eat sushi all day long, every day.

For many years my career found me in the heart of Toronto, the downtown core, which in my humble opinion has some of the best sushi that can be found anywhere in the city. Restaurants like Sushi on Bloor, or Sushi on Queen, were ones that my friends and I visited often. But, as life would have it, I no longer find myself in that part of the city as often as I used to. Sill craving those unique flavors that can only be found in a sushi restaurant, I found myself at Wakame Sushi located in the Crossroads Plaza.

I had passed by this restaurant for many years but for one reason or another, I never went inside of it.

Tucked beside the Dollar Tree in the far corner of the plaza, one could be forgiven to have missed it altogether. When you go inside, the restaurant is a lot bigger than you might think it would be. It is rather dark (despite the large window at the front of the restaurant), but it is spacious.

I have eaten there with friends in the past and there were several large groups of people enjoying their meals at the restaurant when I visited.

The restaurant is clean and has a beautiful mural of a koi fish on one of its walls. Mirrors stretch along the length of another side of the restaurant making it feel spacious and reflecting the natural light that was streaming through.

The food was delicious! I ordered the Vegetarian Bento Box which for a very reasonable price ($10.50 before tax) consisted of salad, Miso Soup or Hot and Sour Soup, Vegetarian Tempura, Deep Fried Tofu, 6 pieces of Avocado & Cucumber Rolls and Edamame. I also tried their General Tao’s chicken dish and Spicy Salmon Rolls, both of which did not disappoint!

Other items on the menu include various types of Sashimi, Pad Thai, soups and rice dishes.

Overall I believe Wakame Sushi restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Weston. It offers a variety of Asian cuisine to suit any palates. The restaurant is clean and the staff is incredibly nice.

Weston’s Second Annual Buskerfest – A review

The Weston Village BIA certainly outdid themselves by putting together an incredible Buskerfest 2018.  The event was slated to be a one-time event to celebrate Canada 150, but since it was so well received it is now likely to become an annual event.

Attendees to this years’ event were amazed by a bevy of incredibly talented performers.   As the decadent sounds of pan drums danced through the air, performers captivated onlookers.  Amongst them was a world-renowned fire performer, a Mime and of course Silver Elvis  (photo posted by Roy).

The event was well organized and lots of fun!  It took place Weston Road north and south of Lawrence Avenue from 2 PM – 6 PM on Saturday.

If you missed this year’s event, not to worry, we are hopeful that the Weston Village BIA will host another one next summer.

Riding the 89 – The Old Man in the Trench Coat

Anyone who has lived in Weston has (at least once) had to ride the 89 Weston bus.

The ride is often not a very pleasant one.  Hot and smelly in the summer, crowded in the winter, each passenger jostling for a small piece of personal space.

There are so many stories that can be written about the things that happen on this bus, but today, I am going to tell you a story about the old man in the trench coat.

It was a cold, blustery winter day when I was standing on the bus platform at Keele Station waiting for the 89 Weston bus. The platform, as is typically the case during rush hour was packed. We were all standing so close to one another that you could almost feel the other person breathing, all of us, that is, except for one.

At the corner of the platform stood an old man in a brown trench coat. His back was hunched and his face hidden as he tried to shield himself from the snow that danced around us. When the bus finally arrived he got on and sat down on a seat close to the window, one of those single seats.

The bus began to move and I drifted between thoughts of what I was going to have for dinner and for lunch the next day at work. I was half gazing out the window and listening to my music when the old man once again caught my eye. This time he pulled something out of his coat.  The young women who stood close to him looked shocked and horrified. I noticed them quickly move away from him, trying to find a spot, any spot in the crowd that was away from him.

After they had moved, I was able to see what the old man in the brown trench coat had pulled out; he had pulled out a rat.

The rat was big and brown. Its long thick beige tail hung like a rope.

The old man in the brown trench coat was talking to it and hugging it. It was clearly his companion.  No one dared say a word, they simply looked on in disbelief.

Once my own feelings of shock subsided, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of empathy wash over me. It is so hard in this lifetime to find someone we can love, someone we can trust and if this rat provided that comfort in this mans life, who was I to judge.

It also reminded me once more, that you never know that you will see when you take a ride on the 89 Weston bus. I would love to hear about your adventures on this bus. Please share your experiences in the comments below.

What’s new at the YWALC/Canada Day Lunch

Have you ever wanted to try clogging?  How about belly dancing or even tap dancing?  At the York West Active Living Centre, you can try these and so much more!

The York West Active Living Centre offers a variety of classes and social outings for people 55 years old and up.  The fully accessible, air-conditioned facility is located at the corner of Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue.

In addition to dance classes, the centre provides fitness and educational classes including Zumba, Pilates, computer courses, Spanish and Italian language courses and a watercolour painting class.                               

I spoke to Suzanne Teixeira, Executive Director of the York West Active Living Centre about the centres’ commitment to promote, encourage and support healthy, independent living. “Some members are very involved at the center; participating in different fitness classes and trips.  For others, knowing they belong to the Centre is enough,” she said.

Dancing with Parkinson’s is easily one of the most inspiring programs offered at the centre.  Instructors guide individuals with Parkinson’s and other neurological ailments through a specialized dance that empowers them and encourages them to explore movement and music in ways that are stimulating and creative.

A non-profit organization, the centre uses money it receives from the small membership fee it charges and grants to fund the programs and pay for equipment including its two vans which play a vital role in bringing people to the centre.  “A lot of our members are no longer driving, so we have two minivans that are used to bring members to and from the Centre.  We also use these vans for social outings,” said Ms. Teixeira.

This Friday, June 29th, the York West Active Living Centre will be holding a Canada Day Lunch from 12 PM to 1:30 PM.

The event is open to both members and non-members who are 55 years young and older.  Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options will be available along with coffee, tea, and dessert.  The cost is $10.00.

Ujima House – A Safe Place for Young and Potential Fathers

Ujima House at the corner of Weston Rd. and Lawrence Ave. holds a treasure-trove of resources for young and potential fathers.  Ujima is a Kwanzaa principle that means Collective Work & Responsibility (To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together).

Officially opened on June 21, 2011, Ujima House is a non-profit organization that focuses on meeting the needs of African-Canadian men.  However, the centre warmly welcomes men of all ethnic backgrounds.

The only father-focused centre in Canada, services include one-on-one mentorship, parenting courses, supervised visitation areas, cooking lessons and help with legal matters.

I spoke to Ed Gough Jr., Program Coordinator at the centre about why the centre was created and the impact it has had on members of the community. “A lot of fathers feel like they are not being listened to or heard,” he said. “Many of the men who come here did not have stable, supportive father figures in their lives.  Ujima House provides a safe environment for men to talk, share experiences, and learn from one another on how to become a better father for their children.  When men feel safe, they are bound to open up.”

As social stereotypes surrounding the roles men and women play in raising children continue to erode, it is encouraging to know that a place like Ujima House exists.

Quickly approaching their 10 year anniversary, the centre is focused on expanding the services it provides to men beyond the Weston community. One initiative the centre hopes to have up and running by September 2018 is a series of free webinars and talks.  Not only will this help to young and potential fathers outside the Weston community, it will also allow people who are not able to visit the centre access resources anytime they need it.

This Sunday, June 17th, 2018, Ujima House is hosting a Fathers’ Day Celebration.  The event will take place from 11 AM-5 PM.  Activities include an Annual General Meeting (11 AM-12 PM), drumming, and a Daddy Olympics which include a diaper changing competition. All are welcome!

Ujima House is located at 1901 Weston Road #18, York, ON, M9N 3P5.

For more information please see the flyer below.