After many years away from the Westboro area, I decided to move back into the ‘hood. Before I moved in I wanted to walk around to get reacquainted and also just to meet the local ’shop owner.’ On my walkabout I wanted to find out what the Westboro feel was now after being away from the village for so long. For the past four years I had been living in South Keys, with my office in Orleans. In both of these suburbs, I found there to be almost a disconnect in the social interactions in many neighbourhoods, conditioned to think that way, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of interactions here in the ‘boro. As I walked around Richmond road and on another day, Wellington Street, every shop/store/restaurant that I entered, I was pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received. I had never met these people before, yet they were so very friendly, curious about my story and welcoming.
One telling experience, that in hindsight seemed to define Westboro, was when I went into one restaurant for a take-out meal. While there and quite by accident I sat down at a table, and ended up staying for lunch instead of taking out. I stayed because as I sat and waited, I had time to look around at the clients at the tables. What caught my attention was that almost every customer (patron) was engaged in a smiling conversation with their lunch partner. Intrigued by the energy that generated, I wondered how this possibly could be at every table in this one place. Was it the food, the ambiance, sheer luck of the moment, or observer bias, but something was going on. So, I turned my focus to the numerous servers and watched them for a while to see if they were the catalyst to this energy. In this busy restaurant not one server looked hurried, rushed or remotely bothered by the busyness of this full to capacity lunch hour crowd. In fact all were smiling, interacting and genuinely seemed to be having a good time. Finishing my meal, ideas rolling in my head from what I had observed, I continued on my ’tour’ feeling very light and energized from the experience. I wondered: “Is this the new Westboro?”
Several stores and several welcoming conversations later, I began reflecting on what I had witnessed in that restaurant and on the street. I came to realize, and feel, that there is something special here in Westboro. That special relates to the people, and the warm sense of community that this ‘boro brings to life. There really is a community here, one where people actually seem to care, truly a village feel to this area. Although Westboro could be considered self-contained and thus isolated, but as you know it is not, it draws people in. It is more than a group of houses, and more than a group of ‘cool’ new shops that by definition would make up a village. Westboro is not perfect, nor does it pretend to be, but there is an energy, a refreshing energy, a dynamic vibrant energy to this place, one that I am looking forward to embracing on many levels. Thank you Westboro for my warm welcome back.
Dr. James Emmett