May 20, 1995
OPENING DAY CEREMONIES
The day turned out to be a beautiful sunny day to the point it was quite warm.
The guests were seated and some left to stand as we began the ceremonies.
The last one to arrive as per protocol was the L.G. where both the piper and I were waiting at the curb on Lombard Street for his arrival.
All guests stood as the Lt. Governor came down the lane with all his entourage and the piper. The sounds of the bag pipes were great especially the echo of them in the laneway underpass.
Ron Smith, a Board member acted as M.C for the day. Among the many speakers were representatives of the Province, MPP’s and City Councillors. Also to speak were Ann Dubas who was then President of Local 79, Muriel and me.
Lt. Governor Jackman gave a most memorable tribute to Donna, her children and provided us with his fond memories of her as he dedicated the north building in her honour.
Jeff Rose (Deputy Minister in the Rae Government) and a personal friend of mine dedicated the south bldg. and provided an overview of our friendship over the years and spoke of my work with the union and assaulted women.
The second last item on the program was the cutting of the ribbon.
Proudly Raising the Canadian Flag
When we purchased the building and because it was the Liberal Headquarters, the Canadian flag was flown on flagpoles both on Lombard and Richmond Streets. I asked the construction crew to save one pole so that we could re-install it upon completion of the building on Lombard St. That pole became a nemesis of the construction crew every time that had to move and preserve it during the excavation and construction phases.
The finale of the opening ceremonies was the raising the Canadian Flag by Larry Brummel a long time Local 79 executive and a Korean war vet. He was accompanied by the pipes playing and the Lt. Governor and legionnaire’s saluting the flag. Affixed to the wall is a plague stating “In honour of all those who fought for freedom. Probably another first.
The best part of the day
As directed, after we raised the flag and before the reception began, I returned to the limo with his Honour. We passed pleasantries, and I thanked him on behalf of Donna and her family for attending in her honour. At that point, I spontaneously said something to the effect of, “It is a shame you cannot stay for refreshments”. Much to my surprise, the Aid de Camp’s and the R.C.M.P., The Honourable Mr. Jackman jumped back out of the limo stating “I would love to”. Sad to say, I only wished I had a camera to capture the looks on everyone’s faces.
Again humour prevails at M.C.C. When I escorted the L.G. back the driveway to the reception and as we entered the room a hush came over the group. No one including myself expected him to join us. Our bartender (Bill Atkinson) had to be asked 3 times to provide him a refreshment as he was in awe of his presence. I know Donna would have been amused.
We had a delightful conversation about various subjects including abused women. He told me that his family had a foundation to fund many such projects for that specific cause.
As he mixed with the guests and spoke with many, I knew regardless of protocol the ladies room was awaiting my arrival. I left Muriel to babysit and made a mad dash much to the horrified look of the Aide de Camp. Within minutes I returned to my post, much to the relief of the Aide and much to my relief in general.
After about 30-45 minutes the L.G took his leave and once again I walked him to the limo. To the best our knowledge we are the first housing co-op to have a Lt. Governor attend our opening ceremonies.
As a footnote, a couple of years later the L.G. was at St. James Cathedral to attend a funeral, spotted me on the street, asked how the co-op was doing and again thanked me for inviting him. He was and remains a favourite memory.
Almost 20 years later
Upon reflecting back on the history of the co-op, there are so many happy stories and events to be told and remembered. Unfortunately, too numerous to mention, but a sampling is that we had two babies born here at the co-op as was the mothers choice.
Over the years we have also mourned the passing of many members. We grieved together for the loss of treasured friends and neighbours and supported their families during their time of grief.
To our credit and with the gratitude of their families, they will not be forgotten. The co-op has a Memorial Plaque in each building naming the members and their year of death. It will remain a symbol of our respect for all that have contributed to our community. We may be the first co-op to do so.
Over the years members have laughed and cried together. Our party room and various members have hosted dances, euchre tournaments, birthday parties, pot luck dinners, wedding and funeral receptions. The room has also been used for community meetings, movie production luncheons, election polling stations and a National Film Board documentary. Our property has also been used for movie, TV. and educational productions.
The court yard hosts The Social Committee’s regular B.B.Q’s. In addition, we have held garage sales and car washes to raise funds for various community efforts and charities outside of the co-op.
We have food and toy drives at Christmas and regular 50/50 draws to contribute to either recognized charities or support our in-house committee’s such as gardening and social.
Our gardens (street-side and courtyard) are well maintained and have won a CHFT award. Our lobbies have seasonal displays by the continued efforts of Eileen Leishman. Our buildings are well maintained by staff as is the state of cleanliness on a daily basis.
We have watched children come here as babies and grown into young adults, some now university bound.
We remember how originally we were one happy family and through the years that momentum has somehow changed as do people and the seasons. Regardless of the change, there have been many friendships formed and many that survived over the years.
That is a credit to us as a co-op. Members help members on an ongoing basis and caring about each other is a testament to our success.
Over the years the membership has changed as has the composition of the Board. Regardless of the changes, the co-op has fared well under the direction of the Board and the staff.
As we approach the 20th anniversary, it is hopeful that the momentum will continue and that members will enjoy what the co-op has to offer through the hard efforts of those that put forth the effort to bring it to the high standard of housing that it is today.
A co-op is only as strong as its membership and the membership should take pride by embracing the true meaning of housing co-operative.