The winners of the "Thank Thy Neighbour" contest

We received some great entries for our “Thank Thy Neighbour” contest. It’s clear there are some generous and kind people living in Kitchissippi. We chose two winners at random and are sharing their stories with KT readers in the hopes that their sense of good will is infectious and inspiring.

Steve Mason, Catherine Hughes, and Anita Mason are just a few of the many “great neighbours” in Kitchissippi. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

Catherine Hughes’ submission is the winner of a $75 gift certificate to Renu Spa, which will go to her neighbours Steve and Anita Mason. Catherine says Bevan Avenue is full of great neighbours who “look out for each other, not at each other,” says Hughes.

Steve and Anita Mason are the neighbours I would like to nominate for the “Thank Thy Neighbour” Contest. Let me tell you a little bit about what makes them so special.

When I moved into my house many years ago, I was a single 30-something woman feeling a tad overwhelmed at the prospect of owing a home on my own. Within days of moving in, I was greeted at my side door by Steve, who presented me with a bottle of wine and a list of all of my immediate neighbours and their respective telephone numbers, just so I wouldn’t feel alone.

A month or so after that, Anita, Steve’s wife, invited me to join her and the other ladies on the block for a welcome cocktail. I arrived feeling a little nervous, but within minutes I was made to feel right at home, surrounded by women who had lived on the street and been friends for generations.

On cold winter mornings when I’ve gone outside to get a head start on shoveling, I’ve arrived in my lane way to find it freshly ploughed. I have arrived home after many long days at the office and found my pathways cleared. Whenever I’ve tried to thank Steve with a bottle of wine or a gift, he has politely refused saying simply that “that’s what neighbours do.”

Steve and Anita have kept an eye on my house when I have had to travel for work. He’s helped me prune overgrown crabapple trees and lilac bushes. He’s pulled a dead squirrel out of my garage after hearing me shriek from across the street. He had a good chuckle at that! :) He’s helped me clean my lawnmower and always lent an ear or a hand whenever I’ve needed it.

Steve and Anita are truly the glue that holds our community together. Every Christmas Eve, Steve and Anita host a holiday party for all the neighbours. The rule has always been, if the “lights on the front tree are on,” then come on in! I hope that Steve and Anita are selected since they are two of the best neighbours and friends anyone could ask for.

This nomination was submitted by Shelley McKay on behalf of the “many many” neighbours who nominated Hilary McVey. Hilary will receive a $50 gift certificate to the Rose Bowl Chophouse.

We definitely have a Kitchissippi neighbour who goes that extra mile and who is always a very generous, caring member of our community. She is one of those people who communicates early and clearly about important neighbourhood matters. Hilary is the driving force behind many community initiatives and we want to thank her for being such a wonderful neighbour.

  •  One of the new moms among the neighbours said the following: “As a new mom, it’s been amazing to have her as a resource.”
  • Another mom said: “Hilary is a force of nature, not sure how she does it all!!”
  • Another of our neighbours is a world class Ironman Triathlete, and one morning when she needed to do a workout, Hilary picked up her dog and took him to the morning doggie gathering so that neither the dog nor its owner would miss their workout!

My first encounter with Hilary’s caring and energetic manner came about when I got a new puppy. I met her and a fabulous group of dog owners at a daily gathering of dogs. This informal gathering is now being formalized thanks to Hilary. She is currently leading a community effort to create a formal dog play place. Hilary began by communicating with all of us and then by organizing a meeting between herself and two other dog owner representatives with the Principal at Fisher Park + the Community Centre Area Manager. Hilary then set up a doodle poll with three options for our dog park in order to understand what all 30 dog owners prefer and then she prepared a proposal that is soon to be submitted for review by the City of Ottawa. A real community leader!

Since that first encounter with Hilary I have also watched her send out several messages encouraging neighbours to support the Elmdale Public School Book Fair. In the days leading up to the sale, Hilary noticed a shortage of volunteers and sent out messages encouraging parents to sign up for a volunteer shift to ensure that all time slots were covered so that the Book Fair would be a success. Needless to say, all time slots were filled and the book fair was a success!

Hilary also personally introduced me to a neighbour who had recently experienced a health issue that I also struggle with. Hilary put us in touch with one another so that we could share information, share medical contacts and support one another through our health challenges.

The other area that Hilary is involved in is the Parkdale Food Bank. This past Fall she spearheaded having neighbours distribute flyers about the food bank.


Honourable mentions

Thank you, from Alixanderia Clymans of Cole Ave. 
We partially share our driveway with our neighbour Bob. He has a snow blower and ALWAYS blows both our driveways – even the part of ours that is separate from his. He has done this for us since we moved next door in 2007, and I’ve really appreciated it through three winter pregnancies. He is fantastic.

Thank you, from Anita Grace
Our next-door neighbours are wonderful. I don’t know how many times I’ve started baking something only to realize I’m short a bit of sugar, an egg, or some other essential ingredient. Luckily they are always happy to lend what we need and we have a great on-going exchange of cooking and baking ingredients. An onion here, a half-cup of sugar there…

Additionally, since their youngest attends the same school as our daughter, they have often taken her to school with them. I could go on. They are perfect neighbours and wonderful people.

Thank you, from Barb Sohn
I actually think that I live with the neighbourhood’s greatest neighbour. Cause if he was my neighbour, I would send this in to you! What makes him a great neighbour is that he is the lucky owner of a snowblower, and when it snows (and as you might have noticed, it snowed a lot this winter) he goes up and down the street and blows out driveways of people who are away, along with snowbanks and sidewalks and paths to peoples doors. Then he comes back later in the day after the sidewalk plows have gone by – clears that out and then finally, the part that everyone loves: he comes back after the road plow has put the 6 foot concrete wall of snow across the end of the driveway. I do benefit from him being the world’s greatest neighbour because I do none of that snow clearing – and I am the happy co-recipient of the bottle of wines, the cards made by the kids of neighbours and the dog treats that we receive in our mailbox. Best Neighbour Ever!

Thank you, from Karen Beattie
I would like to nominate my wonderful neighbour, posthumously. Robert Young, known as “Bob” to us in the neighbourhood, was a wonderful neighbour who was vital to our community and our daily lives. Bob was kind, friendly, and incredibly social to everyone who crossed his path at the corner of Athlone and Byron. He had a fantastic memory and always took the time to remember upcoming special events in all our lives. He was incredibly generous with his time, humour, and kind words. He sat patiently on his porch almost every day, rain or shine, to say his hellos and tell his wonderful stories about his 40-year residency in Westboro (and many more before that in Ottawa). He gave generous gifts to me after the birth of my daughter and at Christmas, and often treated local children to ice cream. He loved to see the kids smile and was always so pleased to make someone happy and share some time with his friends in our neighbourhood. Bob was the very definition of ‘good neighbour’ with his generosity and kindness and he set a wonderful example of friendship for all of us who were fortunate to know him. Bob passed in August 2013 in his 90th year. He is very much missed by all of us.


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