Five things you should know about Mary Thorne (plus bonus content!)

By Andrea Tomkins –

You may have already walked right by the executive director of the Westboro Village BIA and not even known it. Mary Thorne lives in Westboro and is an avid shopper, and has spent the past few months talking to store owners and shoppers alike.

Retail is in her blood, and Mary has spent most of her career in the industry. She lived in Toronto before coming to Ottawa, working as a marketing manager at a mall in the Dufferin-Bloor area. This is where she first learned a fundamental lesson that remains integral to her work life to this day.

Meet Mary Thorne, the executive director of the Westboro Village BIA. Photo by Justin van Leeuwen
Meet Mary Thorne, the executive director of the Westboro Village BIA. Photo by Justin van Leeuwen

“The better the health of the community, the better the business,” says Mary. “If you have a shared vision, there is absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish.”

Since Mary will be helping shape Westboro Village in the years to come, we thought it was reason enough to get to know her a little better.

1.  Mary credits her positive outlook on her Cape Breton heritage. 

“I’ve always been that way, I’ve always focused on the things that can be done, rather than the things that can’t,” says Mary. “We’ve always been survivors, living on an island that’s always been seen as a distressed area from an economic standpoint.”

2. Mary loves to sing. 

She’s performed with folk groups and in a band that toured Cape Breton. She hasn’t been singing very much lately but she would like to explore the vocal stylings of artists such as Enya, and Lorena McKennitt.

There’s a special place in her heart for big band sound as well.

“My father had a four-piece orchestra,” says Mary. “I was surrounded by big band music, which I guess is a little surprising for Cape Breton,” she laughs. One of her most memorable musical experiences was singing in front of an orchestra. “It was the most amazing experience, the power of the music behind you… it just goes right through you. It was just spectacular.”

3. There may be a book inside of Mary.

Mary likes to write fiction in her spare time.  When she was in Toronto she had the opportunity to study with novelist Ania Szado at the Humber School for Writers, and all of the writers in her group have since became published authors. Maybe it’s Mary’s turn next?

4. You may or may not want to play a game of chess with Mary.

Mary picked up some tips from internationally renowned grandmasters when she did Public and Media Relations for the 1988 World Chess Festival. Consider yourself warned.

5. Mary likes her veggies.

She isn’t a vegetarian, but says she would love to see a vegetarian restaurant open in Westboro. “I just gravitate to it,” she says. “I really enjoy it as part of my diet, especially fish, it’s in my blood.”

What else is there to know about Mary? We’re glad you asked.

Mary has many journals.

“I have a paper thing,” says Mary. “I like the feeling of pencils and paper in my hand.” She hasn’t made the transition to writing on the computer for that reason.

Mary has set her sights on streetscape beautification.

(Stay tuned for more information to come about her upcoming projects!)

“I feel that we can make our streets look better, and that includes furniture on the street cleanliness and also façade improvement,” says Mary. “I think we can make inroads there. I would love to see flowers blooming everywhere in the spring.”

Mary is a yoga advocate

“I believe in what it does for me physically as well as mentally. We all get too busy, and we need to stop and get some perspective and focus on ourselves.”

Mary admires the work of local artist Alice Hinther.

“Her mirrors are amazing, she’s very eclectic,” she says. “I would love to meet more artists and see what they’re doing. I think there are opportunities there.”

Read more “five things” profiles right here and learn more about the people who make our community so great.

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