The Weston Farmers Market closed for the season yesterday and there was a good turnout despite the rainy and cool weather. Next year the market will return to John Street after an absence of three years and will open its 40th season on Saturday, May 11 at the new Weston Hub location.
Dave Bennett is a busy man with deep ties to the Weston community. Apart from helping raise a family of four, he has been active as a volunteer in Weston for quite a while having been a member of the Weston Residents’ Association for many years and is now the chair. He is past president and current board member of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, volunteers with Weston Minor Hockey, has coached house league for almost 15 years, has supervised a division for 9 and has been a VP for the past few years.
His role as a parent at St John the Evangelist Catholic School has now ended (his youngest child graduated last year) and Dave is now community relations advisor to its Parent Council having been chair for many years. As a result of his knowledge and experience, he feels he can make a contribution in terms of the way schools are run in York South Weston and has entered the race to become a school trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. When asked about his chances of winning, Dave feels that his chances are pretty good. This is not a surprise considering that Mr. Bennett is used to achieving things in his life.
Dave says that the new school was long overdue and tells me that the old (now demolished) building was really two additions joined together. The original school at 23 George Street was added on to when more space was needed and later when enrolment increased, the older building was replaced with yet another addition. In later years the school needed twelve portables to accommodate students. The new building will be almost twice the size of the old one and will even have room for 36 day-care students. He modestly points out that many people are responsible for the new building’s existence, including former MPP Laura Albanese. He is obviously proud of the new school and easily rattles off facts and figures along with other details of its unique construction. At the moment, SJTE students are being accommodated a few minutes’ away at St Philip Neri on Beverly Hills Drive near Jane and Wilson.
He proudly points out that the new school field rests on a styrofoam base inside a giant concrete container covering the UP Express and GO Train tracks. The styrofoam helps reduce the load on the tunnel while not being deep enough for the field to float during heavy rains .
While his children are now too old to attend the new school, he feels some satisfaction in knowing that future generations of Westonians will enjoy the new facilities which will open in September 2019.
Getting back to his passion for hockey, Dave says his neighbours are always impressed by the timing of the Bennett annual backyard rinks, built following Farmers’ Almanac winter forecasts. Dave says that the Almanac hasn’t let him down yet. Based on their forecast, expect to see the family rink by mid-December at the latest.
Cultural Hangouts:The Artscape Weston Hub: as mentioned, 26 artists will be living and working in your immediate neighbourhood along with 8200 square feet of indoor program space, 12,400 feet of outdoor program space; UrbanArts and Shakespeare in Action will provide programs for young and old. Read all about it here. Housed in a beautiful century building, Weston’s public library was built in 1913 and is one of the libraries originally funded by the Carnegie foundation. This branch has a good variety of activities and opportunities to become involved with the community. A few steps from Weston Road towards the river, there is an outdoor theatre in a beautiful setting on Little Avenue that may see more use now that Shakespeare In Action are relocating here. Weston Historical Society is active, holds regular historical walks and talks and has a base of operations at 1901 Weston Road. Weston has its own Santa Claus Parade. and Buskerfest organized by the BIA.
Restaurants:Restaurants abound in Weston: a highly recommended burger joint, fish and chips, pizza, Chinese, Jamaican, Phillipine and Somali food, a chicken chain, family and a breakfast specialty chain. There are several independent coffee shops and even a Timmies. A superb Mexican restaurant is within a fifteen-minute walk but don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret. Weston Farmers Market, will be outside your front door every Saturday from May to October.
Retail:We have few major chains in the heart of Weston; Shoppers Drug Mart being a notable exception, but there are lots of small family owned stores selling a variety of items. Squibbs Stationers has been in Weston since 1927 and is a great place to get school supplies and textbooks. Incidentally, Weston Village has one the the oldest of Toronto’s business improvement areas. There is a large Asian supermarket nearby but it may be closing soon as the site has been purchased by a developer. Shoppers Drug Mart has quite a large grocery section but you’ll need to go elsewhere for produce when the farmers market is not operating. If you’d like a haircut / style / manicure, there is plenty of choice, including the ‘world famous’ Peter’s Barber Shop on your doorstep. In spite of recent trends to close branches, we still have banks, BMO and RBC with branches close by and Luminus Financial credit union is a 10 minutes walk.
Medical:There are several family doctors, walk in clinics, testing facilities, opticians and pharmacies, all within easy reach.
Sports and Nature:Dog owners, fisher folk and photographers will be in their element in Weston as the Humber runs to the west. A cycle / walking trail along the Humber leads through Cruickshank and Lions parks, the latter having lots of sporting facilities – an open air pool in summer, baseball diamonds, a FIFA standard artificial turf soccer pitch, tennis courts, a skateboard park and one of Toronto’s oldest hockey arenas with outstanding french fries.
Commuting:The UP Express and GO stations are 5 minutes away and will whisk you downtown in 14 minutes while airport workers will get to Terminal 1 even quicker. Weston is the city’s second biggest bus hub so there are many routes to pick from. So there it is; you truly will be living in a walkers’ paradise. Readers, did I miss anything? Please comment in the section below.
Options for homes has written an article entitled, ’10 Things You Didn’t Know About Weston’. It’s a nice tribute to the area where they will be erecting a 22-storey, 233 unit building at 10 Wilby Crescent.
Read the article here.
Readers, do you agree? What did they miss? I’d like to correct the 15 minute time to Union – it’s actually 14 minutes and while we’re timing things, 11 to Pearson and only 6 minutes to Bloor.
Personally, I’m fascinated by the mysterious Mason’s building at 2040 Weston Road. I’d love to get a tour one day.
Former Ontario Minister of the Environment, Glen Murray was in Mount Dennis in June, (along with Frances Nunziata and Laura Albanese) supporting their Net Zero initiative. His abrupt departure has left a few questions hanging about two important Mount Dennis initiatives, in particular their Net Zero push as well as the Toronto West Railpath cycle and pedestrian trail northward expansion.
This article covers the West Toronto RailPath.
The RailPath is a great idea that has been tirelessly promoted by people along the UP Express line and particularly in The Junction and Mount Dennis. Why a path along a rail line? Railway lines are built to smooth out hills wherever possible – trains don’t like inclines. For that reason, a bike / walking trail alongside a rail line is a perfect match because without hills and dips a bike / pedestrian path is easier and safer to use. Plans are to extend the trail southwards below Queen Street and beyond (under study).
In June’s meeting in Mount Dennis, Murray seemed to give an assurance that a northward Railpath extension would get the go ahead despite a previous firm no from Metrolinx. At the time of the meeting, Murray must have known that his future lay elsewhere. Attempts to contact his constituency office on the topic have not been successful.
The new Environment Minister, Chris Ballard directed my inquiry back to Metrolinx Senior Media Manager, Anne Marie Aikins who tells me that “The City of Toronto is the lead on the Railpath project and is in a better position to answer questions about the project and its timelines.” Metrolinx has basically said that the RailPath must end at Black Creek Drive and the City has been tasked with finding a route.
Simon Chamberlain (recording secretary of the (ever awesome) Mount Dennis Community Association) is very knowledgeable on the issues around the possible northward extension. He says that this particular rail track passes directly through communities and could be be a link to stores and other amenities along the way. Unfortunately, without wide enough bridges, the rail path can only run north as far as Black Creek Drive and then exit the corridor at that point, continuing on a much hillier trail through the Black Creek Valley to Trethewey and westward into the back streets of Weston.
Simon explained that the main obstacles to continuing the trail northward are bridges which are expensive to widen after the fact. Sadly, unlike the builders of the Bloor Viaduct, Metrolinx didn’t seem to anticipate the need for a wider corridor. The MDCA unsuccessfully tried to get Metrolinx to only partially demolish the Photography Drive bridge that crossed Eglinton and thus leave room for a pedestrian / cycle trail. He believes that there is a possible route northward over the bridge that crosses Black Creek Drive and MDCA has been pushing Metrolinx to extend the RailPath north to Ray Drive and beyond, possibly as far as Denison.
Simon believes that Metrolinx is reluctant to alter any contracts that are under way because of the additional expense (think of home renos when you ask a contractor for changes during the job).
The City’s Railpath Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, Maogosha Pyjor says that,
“There have been questions about extending the Railpath further north west along the rail corridor. Planning for this extension would require its own Environmental Assessment…. the City has been informed by Metrolinx that due to their track expansion plans there will not be space in rail corridor for a trail going north. The City will have to look at on-street connections.”
Weston has some old structures. Not that old compared to those in Europe, Africa or Asia but for North America, we have quite a few of historical interest.
Strictly speaking, Weston’s oldest structure is the Carrying Place Trail. This was used by First Nations people and explorers between 1615 and 1793. A plaque was dedicated by the Weston Historical Society in 2013.
Weston’s next oldest structure is the 1856 CNR (formerly Grand Trunk) bridge that crosses the Humber to the west of Weston and St Phillips. It was recently widened to accommodate the UP Express but the original structure still stands.
The next oldest structure is the long neglected Plank Road Building at Weston and St Phillips. This structure at 2371 Weston was built in 1841 and in recent years has stood abandoned. Someone obviously owns it and is paying (no doubt reduced) taxes on it.
Weston Presbyterian Church on Cross Street in Weston has an interesting history dating from 1847. The current version dates from 1880.
St John the Evangelist Catholic Church was established in 1853.
Weston Collegiate Institute has been going since before Canada was a country (not in the same building!) and is Toronto’s second oldest high school.
Weston Village is filled with fine homes and mansions, many dating from around the turn of the 20th Century. Generations of families have enjoyed these homes and their history once revealed can be fascinating.
Readers are invited to share their discoveries.
Today was a busy one in Weston. The Weston Farmers Market was open with a few stalls. Next week will be bigger and better. According to vendors, business was brisk. Everyone I spoke to was pleased with their sales.
The Farmers Market wasn’t the only activity happening today.
Down in the Humber Valley, exercise was on the minds of many.