This week’s letter comes from ‘Anonymous’ and comes up with an excellent idea about the Weston Farmers Market that is obvious in hindsight.
As the new Weston Hub moves closer to opening day and its new facilities are taking shape on the ground rather than on paper, it’s becoming harder to imagine the Weston Farmers Market shoehorned into its future designated space.
There are plans to have landscaping in front of the rental tower building and along the walkway to the footbridge that will eat away precious available space and although there has been a suggestion that the market be allowed to spill over onto adjacent John Street, it is clear that traders will have to scale back their stall space. This may make Weston’s market not worth the bother.
Another factor is the noise. Traders begin setting up the market from 5 am. This is a noisy process and may disturb homes overlooking the site.
What’s the solution – well, that’s proposed in the letter of the week.
“I wonder if the folks at Weston Lions Arena were asked to share their lot for the neighbourhood market?
Way back in the olden days, was it not known as the Fair Grounds?
Wouldn’t that be a nice venue – right in the river valley, away from the very tired looking Main Street area.” – Anonymous
The idea is worthy of consideration. The space is huge, further away from residences and as the arena is closed from April until October, it is a natural fit with the market. Adjacent to the parking lot is nature in all its glory, a splash pad, playground, tennis courts, soccer field and during July and August, the open air pool is open, there adding to the festive atmosphere. As an added bonus there is plenty of parking.
As the days of negative weather come to a close, another hockey season does as well. On April 2nd, family and friends from the Weston community and beyond gathered in the famous Weston Lions Arena for a day full of hockey and festivities. Players grasped their hockey sticks, as their families did the same with cups of warm drinks. A single glance at the venue would show that the hype behind this event was immense.
Crowds of hockey players filed into Weston Lions Area for the annual ‘house season championship game’. The arena was buzzing with excitement from participants, parents, and spectators alike. Stands that were usually filled with a handful of parents clutching their thermoses were now packed with excited fans.
The event was run throughout the day, with players from kindergarten to high school in attendance. At the start of the hockey season, players were split into multiple leagues made up of other kids in their age group. Each league was then split into around six teams, for friendly competitions. Throughout the October to April hockey season, players competed in games with others in their league. “it’s not just about hockey. The kids all get together and have a good time doing what they love” explained John Sichetti, father to one of the players.
The day consisted of final games being played and awards. Awards included: Most improved, Most Dedicated, MVP, and many others. Everyone seemed ecstatic to be on the ice, whether they were making a slap shot, or accepting an award. Jane Ross, dedicated volunteer for the Weston Lions Club and Arena stated, “It’s a great family event, and even the kids who don’t win, they aren’t crying”
Excitement teemed through the veins of everyone in attendance. Even those who were standing in the lobby of the rink snacking on fries and coffee seemed overjoyed that this event was taking place. Everyone was chatting about how hard the players had worked, and how much they had improved over the six-month season.
After every game was played, and every award was given, the players and their families filed into the top floor of the rink for dinner. As they feasted, they chatted about the season and excitedly fawned over each other’s awards.
Hockey at Weston has been a tradition for 65 years, and the excitement and joy the rink brings has been alive since the day it began.
Although this was the championship tournament, it’s not the end of the season. Later in the month, the ‘Last Gasp’ tournament will take place. The arena will host teams from all over the province for games (and famous arena fries).
The players who call the arena home are even more ecstatic about playing in this tournament, and the other good times to come on, and off, the ice.
The handsomest man on King St (amazingly, the three handsomest men on King are neighbours) would like you to know that the Weston Lions seniors’ hours, on Tuesdays from 9:30–11:30, are mighty quiet. He advises you, if you are senior, to get out and get handsome.
It’s not surprising that few people are there: Your humble correspondent cannot for the life of him find the arena’s schedule. The city list of arenas does not seem to include it. The Lions’ website works best with Netscape and contains no schedule. Google brings nothing.
This is a shame. The arena is one of Weston’s gems‚ and it should be packed because its many virtues were spread.
Should a loyal reader know the arena schedule, YHC would be glad to host it or link to it.
The Weston Lions Recreation Arena at 2125 Lawrence Avenue West, or more commonly known as “The Arena” by most, has influenced many in Weston within its long timeline, and at its 65th anniversary, its contributions to the community should be celebrated.
Walking into the arena, one immediately notices the smell. It is a fragrance known and cherished by those who regular the arena, whether it be that of a father up early on a Saturday morning to watch his daughter play, or those arriving on a Thursday night to play in their men’s league. It is the smell of Weston’s famous, world-renowned fries, universally recognized as the smell of the arena.
Accompanied by this cultured delicacy are the friendly faces behind the royal blue counter of the snack bar. Always there to provide for its patrons, they’ll serve up anything available on the five-star menu. Now while the prices have gone up in the past by a few cents here and there (fries don’t grow on trees you know!), their ongoing sale can make up for it, because smiles are and will always be free.
Continuing past the snack bar you arrive at the main event, the ice. A chill goes down your spine, exhilarating you, as you enter the “business” part of the arena. The beautiful ice is surrounded by the ergonomic and colourful seating arrangements of alternating light blue and red wood benches, spanning the length of the arena, allowing for quite a crowd to gather to watch their loved ones play. Above, structural supports of wooden beams can also be seen arching from end to end. While two tunnels exist on either side of the ice under each bleacher, only one is used, allowing the players (and parents to sometimes tie their little athletes’ skates) to access their change rooms. Like that of any retro arena that you might have seen watching the NHL growing up, each bench is connected to the tunnel, thrilling in the eyes of any hockey player. There is nothing quite like hearing a crowd’s distant roar and then bursting out of the darkness on to a bright white stage, ready to perform.
This white stage, the ice, is characterized and maintained by the acts of one man. Most see him as the face of the arena, and everyone knows his name, Cam.
Cameron Harkness, a man who thinks of Weston as a second home to him, has been tending to the arena and helping its athletes for going on forty years now. Nothing bad can be said about Cam and his happy personality—especially happy as he drives the Zamboni that allows players to tear up the ice, only to repeat the cycle again and again. Playing at the arena himself in his youth, he came to love both the arena and its attendees.
“Community…the kids, everyone, everything.” Was his simple response when asked what he liked about being a part of such an important part of Weston before hopping on the Zamboni and getting to work, and a small beep followed by the cheer of players waiting to play on the bench as he passes can be heard. Simplicity in its sincerest form can be the most complex.
To an outsider, this arena may be seen as something that needs to be renovated or torn down due to its old architecture or revealed ceiling, but this place tells a story. This arena has been home to a league as old as the arena itself, countless teams, and even brushed off the chaos of Hurricane Hazel. This arena shows community, compassion, and the love that the community of Weston creates.
(For Information on how to register for weekly hockey through the Weston Minor Hockey League, visit wmhl.on.ca)
A long needed demolition and repaving of Weston Lions Arena parking lot is under way. The parking lot has closed and parking restrictions have been eased between 8 am and 11 pm on Hickory Tree Road for the duration of the work, which is expected to be completed by the end of June.
As an interesting aside, when Weston Lions Arena was proposed in 1948, raffle tickets were sold to raise some of the cost. Most of us have seen the prize; it’s the recently renovated house on the south-east corner of Scarlett and Lawrence. The original owner of 2205 Lawrence paid only a dollar. It was recently on sale in the $740,000 range.
York Weston Tennis Club will have its courts repaved later this summer. The club will close August 15 for the work. The city will pay for the repaving while club members will be on the hook for the $30,000 – 50,000 costs of the acrylic finish which gives courts that classy green surface.
Here’s something you don’t see often – an NYPD cruiser parked outside Weston Lions Arena.
It’s a prop from a movie shoot going on this week and it made for a few double takes (ok, pun intended) for people heading into the free seniors’ skate (every Tuesday from October through April; 9:30 – 11:30am).
Weston superstar Mark DeMontis arrived home today after in-line skating all the way from Halifax. He was embraced by his family and friends at the Weston Lions Arena, and several hundred people came out to cheer his arrival.
DeMontis has skated all the way across Canada to raise money for Courage Canada, a group that promotes hockey for the blind. DeMontis was a promising hockey player but lost his sight when he was still a teenager.
Carrying the Canadian flag onto the ice, DeMontis thanked his family, supporters, and sponsors, and gave a rousing speech about the reasons he skated across Canada. He skated, he said, for all the young people who had approached him on his trip.