This is a story from Lynne Patterson, resident in Riverside since 1991 and one of the Riverside BIA’s original and longstanding volunteers. Lynne is moving away from the area after 29 years and we are pleased to include a story from her as part of this ‘Riverside 40 Years, 40 Stories ‘series!
When asked about what Riverside was like when she first moved here, Lynne shared:
“I bought my little row house here in 1991, when I told people I was moving to Queen and Broadview, most people said ‘Where’s that?!'” at the time the only notable thing there was Jilly’s ‘exotic dancers club’ and anyone who said “Oh ya, I know that” would quickly say “But I’ve never been there”.
“The Real Jerk was really the only restaurant besides a few diners and to go out for a nice meal you’d go to another area, but look at it now!”
“The hardware store at the time was great because you could buy a single nail rather than 100.”
She recalled having gone to the Ralph Thornton Centre and the Queen-Saulter Library at the time: “the library branch was going to be closed because it was considered too small. We had a whole community uprising around that, getting Councillors involved, petitions, and in the end they took it off the list of closures and had it refurbished, and it was incredibly well used even at that time. It shows that community voices can work.”
Lynne also remembers when a film studio did up the neighbourhood for “Cinderella Man” in 2004. At the time she was a Russell Crowe fan and spent hours hanging out on Queen but she never saw him filming. She says”They filmed it in the summer and it was supposed to be in the winter so they had fake snow, and the whole street was lined with classic cars -it was great.”
Lynne doesn’t remember anything of the BIA when she first came to the neigbourhood, but she first got involved with the Riverdale Artwalk when it was just Ron Fletcher and Stan Jones and a couple of other people doing studio tours. There were several spots in Riverside on the tour which were working studios in people’s homes. Then, the Riverdale Artwalk kept growing and growing and Lynne became a part of the more formal organization, helping put together a Board of Directors and other formal policies. She recalls “It became the second biggest art show in the city, I believe, grown from two people to hundreds and also formed the Artists’ Network”.
It was then that Lynne became aware of the Riverside BIA as the BIA was running their street festival in conjunction with the Riverdale Artwalk. She went onto the BIA website and sent an email to the office inquiring if she could volunteer as a resident or was if it was just business people. She never got a reply.
Then she met Perry Lupyrypa, the BIA’s Executive Director at the time, at an event and said she’d never heard back about her offer to volunteer. Perry said “That’s ridiculous! Of course you can, anyone can volunteer” They met for coffee at Bonjour Brioche on the patio and within half an hour Lynne was on three different committees/ working groups of the BIA. That was probably around 2010 or 11, Lynne started getting involved in the Marketing Committee and BIA events. She says “I walked away a bit dazed from that meeting, but stayed involved and it’s been fun ever since”.
Lynne shared: “After Perry, there was Anjuli Solanki and now Jennifer Lay – it has been a spectacular group of women running the BIA office – the events and festivals this BIA has been able to pull off with limited resources and budget is astounding.”
Jennifer Lay, current Executive Director shared “It’s really about all the partnerships and just being open to people who want to help – like Lynne – that help make things happen.”
Lynne was the BIA’s first recipient of the Jack Korman Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in 2013. When she was awarded this honour she had no idea this volunteer award existed, she ended up at the end of a BIA walking tour led by Ron Fletcher and Lynne herself, ending up in Cannonball Coffee (formerly F’Coffee). She had a friend staying with her from England and was going to meet the friends at Tabule for lunch and everyone was trying to get her to stay at the coffee place. She was getting quite irritated and didn’t know why she was being asked to wait. Mitch Korman, the BIA Chair, showed up with his brother and a plaque – and it finally dawned on Lynne that it was an award, for her!
Whether it was pulling late nights with editing articles for the Riverside Magazine, connecting businesses with art for the Riverside/Riverdale ArtWalk Tour, pouring Ontario wine at Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest, or being a regular contributor to the incredible ideas and efforts of the Riverside Marketing Committee – Lynne has been a dedicated and stalwart volunteer through it all.
When we asked about the changes Lynne has seen in Riverside, she said:
“When I first came to De Grassi/Wardell a lot of single women with careers bought homes here. It was a time when the area was affordable and could be managed on a single income. Over the years many have moved and the last of us – now in our early 70s – are now moving out. I still love Riverside but the responsibility for an 1888 home is a lot now. There’s been a real gradual transition, there were hardly any children when I moved here, and now there’s many young couples with babies so the whole neighbourhood is changing, it’s been very interesting.
How do you feel about the transformation of Riverside?
“I think it’s good. You don’t want things to stay the same.”
Riverside BIA co-Chair Mitch Korman shared: “Lynne will always be part of the heart of Riverside, and as she moves on to a new home and new activities, the Riverside BIA wishes her the very best and thank her sincerely for all her efforts over the years!”
The ‘Riverside BIA 40 Years, 40 Stories’ Series is part of how we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of this incredible neighbourhood of community-builders.