So long, Weston. I will miss you.
Various members of my extended family have lived here since we bought the house in 1992, some 28 years ago. It is by far the longest I have lived anywhere.
As a boy scout years ago, I was taught to always leave your campsite in better shape than you found it. I hope we have done that with our house and our community. Our house had a 100 foot by 20 foot crushed stone driveway. We installed interlocking brick and gardens for much of that space. Our house was painted pink. We painted it a lovely light yellow. Our house had a rotting deck. We put in a large stone veranda. We replaced a dilapidated two car garage with a windowed workshop. We created tree and flower gardens everywhere we could. Inside the house we remodeled kitchen and baths, added hardwood, a fireplace, furnace and A/C.
We made tremendous friends with our neighbours. Many were the summer evenings when, fresh from projects or gardening, various neighbours and their children would bring whatever they were cooking and we would have a communal dinner over a few beers or some wine. Every December for 27 years, 4 or 5 neighbours would conduct a ‘walk around dinner’ where each course happened in each home, and we walked between them. These dinners originally lasted until the wee smalls of the next morning, though as we got older we started yawning well before midnight.
We made friends with neighbours further afield, as we discovered ‘causes’ that needed attention. First the hospital expansion when Northwestern closed, then the potential renaming of all our streets when amalgamation happened, and then the advent of ‘Blue 22’, and then the notion of electric trains. It was through those neighbour networks that committees and coalitions grew, and Weston faced down bad ideas. Nowhere before or since has a community managed to get 2500 people to come to an Environmental Assessment meeting! We shamed GO Transit and their lackey SNC Lavalin (or maybe vice-versa) Those efforts resulted in massive changes to the benefit of Weston – we got – a stop on the Airport line meaning a 15 minute trip to downtown – a tunnel with a grassy lid which in turn saved a school from relocating – a pedestrian bridge over the tracks – a pedestrian bridge over Lawrence – noise abating walls in many locations – and eventually reduced fares. Some things are still incomplete – some noise walls, electrification, and hopefully full integration of the airport line with ttc, meaning ttc fares. But imagine what it would have looked like if the town of Weston had not risen up and demanded better!
Those causes and those friendships ultimately led to me running for federal office, once successfully. I am so proud of the work of my staff and I helping thousands of people. Even after I lost the election in 2015 one of my staffers continued to work on the case of a woman whose children had been accidentally left off her visa application 15 years earlier – and she was finally reunited with her children, in Canada, when as a result of my staff’s work the immigration department finally relented and allowed the mistake to be corrected.
So now the house is sold, and we moved out today this summer. The house needs to have children in it, as it did for so many of its years. As we age, we are finding the many stairs more difficult, and it is really too big for just three of us. Weston had a small-town feel to it, so we are going to try another small town in Ontario for a while, renting until the Covid pandemic eases enough to allow us to choose a place and a house to suit a downsizing aging family.
I will miss so much of this place and its inhabitants. I loved being able to walk almost anywhere around and be recognized by people whose names I cannot remember, and striking up a conversation. I loved the cohesiveness of the townsfolk, who collectively act more than any town I know. I loved the natural beauty on our doorstep, with the wide majestic parkland surrounding the Humber. I loved the historical preservation that was part of our community. I loved the generosity – donating time, effort, and money to all the little causes that we needed to advance. I loved the neighbour’s night outs in Elm park.
Weston, you are a gem. We enjoyed our time here. We will miss you.