Better Together: Canada’s Greatest Neighbours of 2015
Being a neighbour can mean much more than simply living next door. Here, four stories about your remarkable moments, acts of generosity and relationships forged over years.
Great Canadian Neighbours: The Cheer Squad
In April 2014, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and told to lose weight. My doctor suggested I take a 30-minute walk daily, but I was terrified to start exercising. I remember glibly saying, “I guess I’ll die young.”
A month later, I was in a serious accident and could hardly walk. I began physiotherapy and soon lost 50 pounds. In those early months, I was very self-conscious about my daily walks, but I kept at them and followed the same route. That’s how I met Robbie and Carol.
Whenever I passed by their place, Robbie would call out, “You go, girl. You’re looking great!” They cheered me on as I dropped from a size 18 to a size 10. And one day they invited me over. I told them how much their support meant to me. I now go to the gym, and I walk every day, rain or shine. And most importantly, I have two new friends.
– Lori Gardiner, Toronto
Great Canadian Neighbours: No Expectations
I have the best neighbours ever. When I moved to the area, I didn’t know a soul. I hadn’t met Enzo and Judy beyond a wave hello until I underwent surgery. After a few days recuperating at home, I ventured outside and started a conversation with them. When she heard about my troubles, Judy told me to call if I needed anything. I never did phone, but I felt better knowing support was close by.
Since then, Enzo has helped me with plumbing issues and other repairs. He and Judy have lent me their lawn mower, pressure washer, steam cleaner and various tools. They have cut my grass, watered my garden, shovelled my driveway, looked after my cat and walked my dog. Once, Judy drove me 70 kilometres through a rainstorm at night so I could be with my mother, who had taken ill. And when my parents passed away, Enzo and Judy were there.
And not just for me. My wonderful neighbours have keys to many houses on our street. I have only been able to return their kindness a few times, but they have never asked for anything in return.
– Teresa Lico, Aurora, Ont.
Great Canadian Neighbours: The Kindness of Strangers
Not long ago, I answered my parents’ door to find a stranger. I had flown to LaSalle, Que., from Portugal for my mother’s funeral.
The woman who was unknown to me-Isabelle-had been my parents’ neighbour and caring friend for 18 years. I invited her inside.
Isabelle spoke about my mother’s tough character and how she kept the neighbourhood safe. How Mary-Mom-was aware of everyone’s activities, taking them in from her chair on the porch. Dad and I laughed, and it felt good.
Isabelle told us about the loss of her own mothers, biological and adopted. She noted how unsettled she felt with Mary gone, then turned to my father: “Joe, you will have to watch the street for the rest of us now.”
Dad told me Isabelle had been a great comfort to Mom. When there was a fire in my parents’ home, Isabelle brought a chair into the street for my frail mother to sit on and a blanket in which to wrap her. She even spoke Portuguese!
At my mother’s funeral, in my eulogy, I thanked Isabelle, no longer a stranger, for her kindness.
– Leonia Nunes Paco de Arcos, Portugal
Canada’s Greatest Neighbours: Snow Angel
Our next-door neighbour, John, is awesome! Whenever there’s a storm while my husband is away on business, John comes with his snowblower and helps me dig out. I like to reward him with his favourite treat: homemade chocolate-chip cookies. He always tells me I don’t have to do that, but I do. It’s how I show my appreciation.
– Dawn Welton, Chester, N.S.