Love Letter to Weston

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.

Author: Mike Sullivan

Mike Sullivan has lived in Weston since 1992, with his wife Andrée and at various times their seven children. He has helped with or led community causes – protecting our street names from amalgamation, burying trains, getting a stop, getting bridges and noise walls, promises of electrified trains and lowered fares. He was a Union Representative working for NABET and CEP (now Unifor) dealing with broadcasters and newspapers. He ran for Member of Parliament three times; elected in 2011. While MP he helped deal with street crime by leading the charge to force phone companies to refuse to activate stolen phones. He was critic for persons living with disabilities, helping get disabilities listed as one of the ‘hate crime’ prohibitions. He presently serves as a member of the Board of Weston King Neighbourhood Centre, and of the advocacy group TTC Riders.

19 thoughts on “Love Letter to Weston”

  1. We will miss you greatly Mike. Thank you for everything you have done to help our community. Much success, love and happiness wherever you may land. They will be very lucky to have you in their community. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are.

  2. Mike, you may be gone but your fingerprints linger. You know how many of us feel, how grateful we were and still are for your leadership and tenacity in fighting for what is right. And while we might not have always agreed on everything, the work we did together as a community is a lasting legacy. We may still need you, so don’t be a stranger!

    There will always be a place at the grill for you… xoxo

  3. Thank you, Mike. As I said during our porch beer a few days before you left, I will always be grateful that you and Joe walked into that fledgling election campaign office on Keele way back in May 2004. You gave Weston much over the years and our community is significantly better for your gifts. Be well, stay well. Cheers!

  4. Mike and Andre, wishing you all the very best in your new adventure …you have indeed made a difference and will be missed.
    Barbara

  5. Stay safe, and be careful. Hopefully this Covid madness will stabilise, and you will find a more permanent perch.

    So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  6. Your being here, taught me many things. A gentle, kind, very intelligent person with the capacity to bring people together, ultimately forged a community to challenge what we rejected and fostered a trail of change. Without you, it would not have happened, whether people recognize it or not-voted for you-or not-agreed or disagreed-You were the difference. I will remember the coalition adventures of pulling all the plugs at our disposal- chasing down politicians- bribing them with artisan bread..to the challenge you gave me- to spread the word to Dr Suzuki . I was about to board a helicopter to fly over the Grand Canyon with my son..It was a call I had to take!-the helicopter waited. Petitions in the rain, the pivotal moment Mary Lousie got up to address the Go Meeting that swung the assessment. I really had a hard time fathoming, when I canvassed, why anyone would vote any other way in an election you were running in. It had to be a resounding yes , absolutely!! Thanks has to go out to Andree too, for the support and time spent waiting for Mike to return from Ottawa, the numerous meetings and long drafts of contracts he spent hours pouring over to find legal loopholes and tricks pulled. Her beautiful english garden will leave her memory. Getting older is a mixed bag but I wish for you and Andree health, joy, and an easier, more care-free personal adventure with other friendly folk-somewhere in a place where skyscrapers will never overshadow trees, charm, a gentle breeze and Andree can begin again planting Lavender. Our best goes with you.; )

  7. I don’t know where to start in thanking you Mike. From all I learned from you on our committees to the wonderful care and work you did on your home and our community. You broadened my horizons while lending an encouraging ear. Weston has been all the better for you living in it. Where ever you are going is their gain and Weston’s loss. All the best to the best.

  8. Hi Mike,

    I want to thank you for everything you have done for the community, the love affair goes both ways.

    Without your leadership, Blue22 would have bypassed Weston. I doubt we would be seeing the new condos, apartments, coffee shops and stores.

    We will miss you,

    John Ward

  9. Mike, We go back to our times at the CBC. I has been a pleasure knowing you. Good luck for the future.
    Regards.
    John Nicolson.

  10. Thank you for all you did for the community and York-South Weston! I rode by the pink house a dozen times and hopefully it gets taken care of the same way it was when you inhabited it.

    I wish you well on your journey to another small town or region in Ontario!

  11. I love mike’s simplicity and love for the community. Good job. I wish you long life and good luck

  12. Weston will miss you, Mike and Andre.
    Thank you, Mike, for your unlimited passion for Weston, your positive influence will be felt in our village for generations to come.

  13. You did not confine your work to Weston, Mike, but were always concerned about its sister community of Mount Dennis, just down the road – not just when you were our MP, but before and afterwards too. You provided the Mount Dennis Community Association with advice and support on many issues over the years, including noise walls and our efforts to save threatened trees. You even supported our community ice rink by holding a celebratory event there!

    Your wise advice and interventions on behalf of our community will be sorely missed! But wherever you end up, we are sure you will continue to make a difference for the better in local communities. THANK YOU …. And our best wishes to you and Andree.

    Simon Chamberlain & Judith Hayes
    Mount Dennis Community Association

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