Community Builder Awards

Each year HVRA recognizes individuals for making outstanding contributions to the Harbord Village community. Chosen recipients are awarded a citation in a small ceremony at the Spring Meeting in May or the Fall Annual General Meeting in October. The HVRA slogan is “Good Neighbours Building a Great Neighbourhood.”  Read about past recipients below to see how broadly the term Community Builder can be applied. (With thanks to Richard Longley and Gus Sinclair for most of the photos.) 

To nominate someone for one of these awards, please send the nominee’s name and contact information with a one-paragraph summary of their accomplishments to

Fall 2023 Community Builder: Bloor-Borden Farmers’ Market

The Bloor Borden Farmers’ Market was established in 2008 by Helen Goldlist (pictured here), Rory Sinclair, Mikey Fraterman, Christine Innes, Margaret Beare, John Corso, Sue Dexter, and Leigh Chestnut-Halls as a neighbourhood venture by and for Harbord Village and Annex residents.

Since then, the market has connected local food and drink vendors with residents near and far on a weekly basis from June to October each year, rain or shine. It has grown to feature local community groups and live music. Even COVID restrictions couldn’t keep the market down for long! Terri Chu’s weekly e-newsletter offers not only updates on current seasonal produce, but also recipes and insights on climate-friendly options for food shopping, packaging, and more.

The Farmers’ Market board, organizers, and weekly volunteers have created a true community gathering space, while supporting independent businesses and sustainably produced food. The Bloor Borden Farmers’ Market provides a huge service to Harbord Village. We would like to recognize the current  Board—Helen Goldlist, Terri Chu, Adam Barnes, Lettie Gariba, Jerri Jones, Eleanor Levine, and Jim Jacobs—incredible volunteers Jan Muszynski and David Booz, plus everyone involved over the past 15 years for a well-deserved Community Builder Award.

Spring 2023 Community Builder: Jim Robinson

Many years ago, Jim Robinson built a mini free lending library in front of his home on Major St., south of Harbord. He styled it after the Victorian houses in Harbord Village. Books are free to take, and there’s space for donations of adult books and also kids’ books and games. It has become a hub for the neighbourhood, with people chatting as they check out the latest titles, or drop off their extras and look for something else to read.  A later addition was a children’s library at just the right height for easy browsing, and there are even welcoming lights in the wintertime. What a great service to the community!

Fall 2022 Community Builder: Todd Irvine

Todd Irvine arrived at the HVRA Spring Meeting in May of 2022 to give a talk on how to make trees thrive in the City of Toronto. Never has a discussion of tree care and pruning been so galvanizing! Attendees were totally bowled  over by the impassioned and meticulous reasoning on how it needs to be done and isn’t being done. As a follow-up, Todd provided a guided tour of local streets to many HVRA members to show the current disarray of trees improperly pruned and suffering for it, as well as to celebrate several thriving examples of the HV canopy. Todd has provided a huge service to Harbord Village and is hence so deserving of the Community Builder Award.

Fall 2022 Community Builder: Matt Hoffman

photo of Matt HoffmanMatt Hoffman is your ideal citizen. He quietly, and regularly, volunteers for the Annual Cleanup and for community events such as the Fall Fair and PumpkinFest. Further, he helped organize the Mutual Aid network in Harbord Village during COVID lockdown. Most importantly, he has been instrumental in the work of the HVRA Net Zero Committee by providing analysis of surveys and of various Net Zero projects. Matt was the guest speaker at the 2021 AGM, presenting eloquently on the  work of the Net Zero Committee. He also wrote an article in the Toronto Star about that work. And it is all done with a easygoing smile as if to say, “Aw! It’s really nothing.”

Spring 2022 Community Builder: May and Dan Friedman and Family

photo of Friedman familyThe Friedman family of Borden Street are ideal neighbours. When the pandemic began in 2020, they moved their famous “coffee house” parties online to connect their large circle of friends, many of whom live in Harbord Village. The coffee houses went on regularly for months, featuring performers of all ages performing music that helped uplift neighbours during such a challenging time. In the summer of 2021, they were able to hold the event in-person again in their backyard. Such largesse and generosity are characteristic of the Friedmans. Recently they called on neighbours to come help themselves to a delivery of wood chips from their laneway, which I know was appreciated by local gardeners. They’re wonderful neighbours, reliable friends, and contribute to the world so much spirit and song. We’re all better for it.

Fall 2021 Community Builder: Leslie Thompson

Leslie Thompson, HVRA Community Builder Fall 2021Leslie Thompson is an all-around asset to Harbord Village, with an impressive list of accomplishments over the years: a former board member who has volunteered at most events, and a Treasurer who overhauled our accounting system. She has championed more greenery in HV, from street planters to backyard trees, safer streets with petitions for speed-bumps and chicanes, as well as environmental stewardship through NetZero. Leslie is also our go-to resource for all things Heritage, helping get Harbord Village reviewed for Heritage Conservation District status, writing Heritage articles for our website and newsletters, and fielding questions at the Fall Fair Heritage Table about who lived in your house. On behalf of HV, thank you Leslie!

Fall 2021 Community Builder: Maria Pasquino

Maria Pasquino in her garden: HVRA Community Builder Fall 2021Maria Pasquino is responsible for one of the most magnificent gardens in Harbord Village. Located at 68 Brunswick Ave. between College and Ulster, she and Richard Longley have worked on this front garden since 1995.

From early spring into early winter, the garden produces a glorious array of colourful perennials and vines. Over the years, the plantings have been extended onto Brunswick Boulevard, a trend followed by nearby neighbours. Maria is a knowledgeable gardener who shares cuttings and divided plants, and her passion is shared with all to behold and enjoy.

Spring 2021 Community Builder: Kensington Health

John Yip , CEO of Kensington Health -- HVRA Community Builder Spring 2021Kensington Health exemplifies a not-for- profit, community-based model of providing specialized healthcare services to its clients. More than that, the ethos of Kensington Health is in recognizing the symbiotic relationship of the moving parts of the whole organization: leadership, staff, residents and their families together with the community. This fosters the belief that good outcomes arise when all know and trust that each will perform at their utmost.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredible challenge for Kensington, testing their model to the fullest. The various components of the organization, with the extraordinary leadership of CEO John Yip, have performed miraculously well in the crises. Although there is still more work to do and the threat is not over, the Kensington Team is proud of how far they have come.

Spring 2021 Community Builder: André Roy

Andre Roy, HVRA Community Builder Spring 2021André Roy has lived in Harbord Village all his life. He was a French Immersion student at King Edward School and student council president at Harbord Collegiate. His dedication to municipal politics and and neighbourhood engagement led him to attain a degree in Urban Studies at the University of Toronto in 2020. Over the years, André has worked on many political campaigns at all levels of government, and connected with many HV residents about their concerns. He volunteers at the HVRA Community Cleanup and Fall Fair and attends local hearings on construction projects and parks. We are lucky to have this civic-minded young man in our community!

Spring 2021 Community Builder: Colin Furness

Colin Furness HVRA award Spring 2021Colin Furness has become famous across Canada as a much-needed and mostly heeded voice on how we are doing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a faculty member in the Faculty of Information at U of T and holds a Master of Epidemiology from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, where he now holds a status cross-appointment in Health Informatics. Since January 2020, Colin has done over 1000 media interviews for the CBC, the Toronto Star, the Globe & Mail and the New York Times among others.

Closer to home, Colin is a past member of the HVRA Board and now sits on the HVRA Constitution and Nominations Committee. He helped guide the Harbord Village Oral History project and one of his graduate classes analysed survey results used in designing the HVRA website.

Fall 2020 Community Builder: Mary Newberry

Mary Newberry HVRA Community Builder Fall 2020For 30 years Mary Newberry has enriched Harbord Village with her compassionate heart and get-it-done attitude. She has raised thousands of dollars for HVRA, creating and running the fall bake sale. Although not one to seek the limelight, she has consistently gone the extra mile to make our neighbourhood inclusive and welcoming – from supporting neighbours with special needs to opening her home to refugees, and making them part of our community. Her sunny face, warm heart, and ceaseless effort on behalf of others are deeply appreciated. Thank you, Mary!

Fall 2020 Community Builder: Margaret Procter

Margaret Procter, HVRA Community Builder Fall 2020Margaret Procter deserves to be recognized for the immense amount of work she has done (and continues to do!) for our community. Although “retired” after six years of service on the board, she has continued to help in innumerable ways – sharing her technical expertise in managing the website, crafting and editing e-blasts, proofreading the newsletter, and so much more. She’s been fundamental in building and maintaining the HV Gardening group, creating the HV Mutual Aid Network and working to keep the Harbord Village History Project current. Smart and indefatigable, she’s a wonderful neighbour!


Fall 2020 Community Builder: Kerry Clare

Kerry Clare, HVRA Community Award Fall 2020Kerry and her family are passionate and committed neighbours. A long-time resident of Sussex Avenue, Kerry is the type of person who gathers everyone around her and is genuinely interested in listening to people’s stories – all with the thought of the wellbeing of the community. Just one example: Kerry tends one of the concrete garden boxes that line our streets, and she and her family have filled the planter with beauty. May Friedman, who nominated her, is grateful to have Kerry as her friend and neighbour and appreciates all the ways she supports the neighbourhood.


Spring 2020 Community Builder: Robert “Bob” Barnett

Bob Barnett, HVRA Community Builder Award Spring 2020Bob graduated from UofT architecture in 1968 and was encouraged by his professors to rejuvenate downtown neighbourhoods. If his professors were alive today, they would unanimously agree that he over-achieved.

He and Anna moved to 84 Sussex in 1973. He was chair of the Sussex-Ulster Residents’ Association (SURA) from the mid-80s to the 90s, and also of the Cecil St. Community Centre. His belief in preservation is shown by his work on his own house, including restoring an original slate roof. Some of his memorable public campaigns on the successful side include the dispute with Doctors’ Hospital about its expansion plans, saving the bank at College and Bathurst, and recently the negotiation with U of T about the residence at Spadina and Sussex. On the not-so-successful side, the fight against the grad residence “O” at Spadina and Harbord. After retiring from his architectural practice, Bob is now Executive Director of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, which has protected 180 nature reserves with 59 rare species on 14,375 acres from Caledon to Manitoulin.

Spring 2020 Community Builder: Pierre Beekmans

1970 photo of Pierre Beekmans
Pierre Beekmans in 1970
PIerre Beekmans 2020, HVRA Community Award
Pierre Beekmans in 2020
Pierre has lived with his wife Merlyn in the same house on Sussex Avenue since 1964.

Pierre claims he was never a star in neighbourhood work. But people from SURA days all say that the foot-slogging done by Pierre was essential to the success of their projects. Pierre was part of the “Save-Our-City: Stop Spadina” coalition which convinced people right up to the Provincial Cabinet not to build the Spadina Expressway through to the Gardiner. Harbord Village would not exist in its present form if they had not succeeded.

The other battle that was crucial to preserving the community as we know it was stopping the building of two highrises in what is now the Robert Street Field (see the history here). The existing houses were already torn down and the permits were pending when the community rose to oppose the plans—and succeeded thanks to the work of Pierre and his compadres. If they had not won, the highrises would have marched all the way down to College Street.

Fall 2019 Community Builder: Margaret Beare

Marg Beare, HVRA award-winner Community Builder Fall 2019, with her daughter Ngai Nguyen-BeareLong-time HVRA resident Margaret Beare passed away peacefully on Aug. 10. She and her daughter Nhai Nguyen-Beare were very active in our community. Margaret was an HVRA board member in the 2000s. She also served as an HVRA rep at Police Liaison Committee meetings, and was a member of the Constitution and Nomination Committee. Margaret was instrumental in developing conflict resolution protocols with the Harbord BIA, and she championed our Major Street Syrian Refugee initiative. She was Professor in Sociology and Law at York University and director of the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption at Osgoode Hall Law School. We will remember Margaret as a force of nature, with a deep desire for social justice in her community.

Fall 2019 Community Builder: Luisa Cabral

Luisa Cabral HVRA Community Builder Award Fall 2019Luisa Cabral is a great example of a long-standing area resident who makes life better for her family and neighbours through her everyday actions. Luisa has lived on Robert Street with her family since 1974. Her husband died seven years ago, but Luisa continues to take care of her extended family. Her hard-working personality hasn’t changed a bit in all those years. Luisa keeps her house and garden impeccable, to the delight of her neighbours and of passers-by who stop to admire her beautiful garden. Full of flowers from Spring to Fall, it’s one of the many wonderful Harbord Village places that make our neighbourhood a good place to live.

Fall 2019 Community Builder: Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz, HVRA Community Builder Award Fall 2019

Rosie Schwartz has been a passionate activist for over 50 years. Her encyclopedic knowledge of civic planning and resident concerns made her a great champion for our neighbourhood. Her key civic battles include saving Old City Hall, promoting Doctors’ Hospital Redevelopment, preventing north of Harbord from becoming a “high-rise district,” founding the “Stop Spadina Expressway Committee” and Sussex Ulster Residents’ Association (our predecessor), and encouraging traffic lights at Hoskin and Queen’s Park Circle for student safety. Rosie also ran for City Council—the only candidate formally endorsed by respected urbanist Jane Jacobs. We thank Rosie for her efforts and legendary willingness to share her frank and unvarnished opinions.

Spring 2019 Community Builder: Jennette Boehmer

Jennette Boehmer, HVRA Community Builder Award Spring 2019Since moving to Harbord Village, Jennette has championed our greening goals, becoming an HV Gardener and  helping plan the Plant Fairs. Since 2015, she has helped our concrete planter gardeners organize spring cleaning, compost delivery, and finding adopters for orphan planters. In 2016, she became the Harbord Village contact when the City offered plants for the planters. She helped identify suitable plants, facilitate plant ordering, and more. And recently Jennette has played a key role in finding ways to best implement the new in-ground planters.

Spring 2019 Community Builder: Ann Eyerman

Ann Eyerman, HVRA Community Builder Award Spring 2019Ann Eyerman has been building community in Harbord Village for many years in many roles. For the last few years she was the editor of the informative and entertaining HV weekly e-blasts. Ann was on the Transportation Committee and very involved in the recent Traffic Study. She worked the Fall Fair Heritage Table for years, raised record donation amounts for the Silent Auction, was a charter member of HV Gardeners, and served on the HVRA Board. Ann moved out of Harbord Village in June 2018 but continued writing the e-blasts until March 2019. We are all in her debt for her many contributions and wish her well in her new community.

Spring 2019 Community Builder: Daniel Suss

Daniel Suss, HVRA Community Builder Award Spring 2019

Daniel Suss is passionate about environmental sustainability as evidenced by his involvement in a successful compost-only, plant-based Toronto restaurant. So he was excited about HV’s many green projects, like our pioneering Green Plan and in-ground planter prototype at Robert/Russell. When the Transportation Department agreed to help fund other in-ground planters in Harbord Village, Daniel got involved, visually mapping out how these could best achieve greening (including canopy building, traffic calming/orienting and stormwater percolating goals). We thank Daniel for helping HVRA and the City better improve these public spaces.

Spring 2019 Community Builder: Tino Torreira

Tino Torreira, HVRA Community Builder Award Spring 2019Tino Torreira and Torreira Import Auto Service at Harbord and Major have been neighbourhood fixtures for 34 years, providing outstanding service to HV residents. Sadly, after May 31, 2019, Torreira Import Auto Service will close, as the owner of the property has sold it to a third party. Tino has been an essential part of Harbord Village, and it has been a luxury to have a first-class mechanic within walking distance of our homes. Tino plans to stay nearby and will look for a small garage to start again.

Fall 2018 Community Builder: Gordon E. Brown

HVRA AGM 2018-28Gordon Brown has been at the heart of HVRA since its inception in 2000. Gordon was one of the 5 individuals who spent 9 months drawing up the Constitution of what was to become HVRA. Gordon was HVRA’s Secretary and later Treasurer for 8 years and set up its bookkeeping system. Since stepping down from the Board, Gord has continued to represent HVRA in effectively advocating for pedestrians in the city. Finally, in the last few years he has been one of the top canvassers for the Silent Auction at the HVRA Fall Fair.

Fall 2018 Community Builder: Judith Robertson

Judith Robertson's gardenJudith Robertson has been nominated for this Award for doing something that most of us have seen but probably none had any idea how it got there and who maintained it: the beautiful little garden of flowers along the fence facing the Robert Street Field just north of Sussex Avenue. Judith planted it a number of years ago and has maintained it ever since. This is true Community Building: take a forgotten little corner of Harbord Village and make it beautiful.

Fall 2018 Community Builders: Erik Schneiderhan and M.P. Stevens

Erik and M.P. are originally from the United States but recently acquired their Canadian citizenship and have embraced their locale on Borden Street and beyond. They organized a book club that meets monthly at Harbord House. They also started Culture 77—a series of house concerts, poetry readings and other cultural events they host in their home. They’ve certainly brought together many neighbours on the street and in Harbord Village—Community Building at its finest.

Fall 2018 Community Builder: Sandy Smith

HVRA AGM 2018-35In 2007, the Board of HVRA embarked on a project that had never before been attempted by any Residents’ Association in Canada as far as we know. The project was to enumerate every tree in HV and provide some basic data that could be input in a spreadsheet. And if there were a will 10 years later, we would repeat this and be able to factually know what was happening to our Tree Canopy. We enlisted the support of Sandy Smith, the Dean of Forestry at U of T who happened to live in HV. She got the first enumeration up and running over 2007 and 2008, and she oversaw it again for 2017 and 2018. The data is a priceless gift to HV and the City beyond.

Fall 2018 Community Builder: Coleen Whyte

HVRA AGM 2018-22Every organization needs a Coleen Whyte. We all know them: they are never in front but they are always there cheerfully volunteering to get jobs done. Coleen for many years was the person who did much of the organizing of the Produce and Bake Sale at the Fall Fair, something that has always brought in about $400 to the coffers of HVRA. More than that, for the last two years she has been one of the top canvassers for the Silent Auction at the Fall Fair which netted over $4500. We are fortunate indeed to have had Coleen tirelessly assisting HVRA with its various projects.

Spring 2018 Community Builder: Andrew Sliwa

HVRA Community Builder Award for Andrew Sliwa, Spring 2018Andrew Sliwa is everyone’s ideal neighbour. He never fails to volunteer for community events whenever asked. He is always helpful to any neighbour needing assistance—from the use of a tool to lending a bicycle. He cheerfully participates in all neighbourhood events. He even runs his very own kielbasa night for the locals. In 2017, he donated his professional expertise to create a 3-D model of the bike rack designed by the Engineering student group studying area needs. If you are looking for an ideal neighbour, Andrew and his fine family are the ones you want.

Spring 2018 Community Builder: Lisa Edwards

HVRA 2018 Community Builder Award, Lisa EdwardsLisa has been Principal of Central Technical School since 2015, with 24 years’ tenure in the Toronto District School Board. Lisa has always been friendly and fair in dealing with our community, starting with the conclusion of the contentious dome installation. Recently, Lisa helped resolve noise issues caused by the unintentional creation of a skateboard and BMX bicycle park on school grounds. Residents held a sit-in on Canada Day 2017 to voice their concerns; Lisa met them and quickly brokered a solution that restored peace in the community. Lisa stands by this sentiment: “I believe that it is important that our school and our neighbours work together to build a better community for all.” A Community Builder indeed!

Spring 2018 Community Builders: Ann Eyerman, Jessica Humphreys, Leslie Thompson, Jennifer Weinberger, Rebecca Wittmann, John Zilcosky

HVRA 2018 Community Builder award, Major Street groupSeveral years ago, lower Major Street saw a baby boom and was suddenly happily teeming with toddlers… which put a spotlight on the high speed (and often frustration) of drivers coming off College and navigating our local traffic maze. This was also an ongoing problem for the many elderly and disabled residents of Kensington Gardens. So, in the fall of 2013, a group of concerned residents contacted the city about traffic-calming solutions. After four years, 262 emails, many city staff changes, several rounds of door-to-door canvassing and petitions, the sad hit-and-run deaths of two neighbourhood pets, and the support (and ultimately torchcarrying) of diligent neighbours and HVRA, the project was complete. In August 2017 the city installed speed humps along lower Major.

HVRA Community Builders 2018: the Major Street crew
Photo by Eve Shifman

The gentle humps with directional arrows (as seen at right) now make the street safer for all walkers and cyclists—including kids going to and from school and seniors in Kensington Gardens taking an outing. The story provides a good example of citizen action that makes a measurable difference to the neighbourhood. As other areas of Harbord Village look to replicate this effort, we wish them luck and—most of all—patience. (See the timeline and some of the documents on our Traffic Calming page.)

Fall 2017 Community Builder: Gary Bloch and Amy Furness

Margaret Fairley Park 2017Gary Bloch and Amy Furness were instrumental in making the renovation of Margaret Fairley Park a reality. It took over 7 years from start to finish, and Amy and Gary saw it through its many stages. There were frustrations, and delays, and miscues, and misunderstandings—but they maintained their poise and dedication to the job at hand. Amy and Gary exemplified in every way Hemingway’s maxim “Grace under Pressure” and in so doing have made our community a better place to live.

Fall 2017 Community Builder: Lynn Brophy and Miriam Ticoll

Cummunity Builder AwardsLynn Brophy and Miriam Ticoll performed a remarkable service to the community over the newly renovated space at the north end of Central Technical School. The renovation was completed in the summer of this year and was almost immediately taken over by skate boarders and BMX cyclists. Unbeknownst to anyone on the Cenral Tech team, the park turned out to have ideal conditions for aficionados of these sports, but the noise was extraordinary. Lynn and Miriam took a leaf out of the civil disobedience book and set up lawn chairs and tables on one of the decks, and rather than demonize the boarders, engaged with them and then the school to solve the problem.

Fall 2017 Community Builder: Antero Faria

Antero Faria was nominated for his Award by three different individuals who live near his home on Brunswick Avenue south of Harbord. All made the point that Antero over many years has done so many things for people of his community, little and small, that make him the ideal neighbour. He not only shovels snow for seniors but clears the common laneways as well. He cleans eavestroughs and does small repairs for his neighbours. This is all cheerfully done and for no charge. Antero is the model neighbour and is well deserving of the title “Community Builder.”

Spring 2017 Community Builder: Celia Denov

Celia DenovCelia has a long and illustrious history with Harbord Village. After moving to Borden St. in 1969, she attended her first Residents’ Association Meeting. By 1972, as chair of the neighbourhood Parks Committee, Celia was involved with the city in developing parkettes at Brunswick and College and at Robert and Sussex, and organizing the first picnic in Margaret Fairley Park. In 1975, she was instrumental in getting the first traffic maze installed north of Harbord.

After a few years away, Celia was so homesick for the area that she moved back. In 1996–2005, she initiated the Fall Fair, which continues to this day. In 1999 Celia was on the committee that authored the Constitution of the new HVRA. Since then, Celia has continued to be a passionate contributor and admirer of the HVRA and therefore is most worthy of the Community Builder Award. Congratulations, Celia!

Spring 2017 Community Builder: Larry Sdao

Larry SdaoLarry Sdao is a rare bird indeed—a veteran of the hospitality industry who develops positive relationships with the communities in which he works. Larry bought the Brunswick House in the early 2000s, intending it be run as a plus for the community. But then he signed a lease with an operator who proved to be a bad fit and was unresponsive to neighbourhood complaints. Larry took the operator to court to break the lease, very difficult to do except for non-payment of rent. But Larry had evidence of non-compliance with agreed-on actions (e.g., removing graffiti) and a stack of vituperative emails, and the operator agreed to give up his 20-year option. Many landlords would have collected the rent and ignored our pleas. Larry did the right thing by Harbord Village and therefore is most worthy of the Community Builder Award.

Fall 2016 Heritage Conservation: John Scalpello and Sylvia Swiekatun

The owners of 154 Major were presented with a Heritage Conservation award for their home renovation featuring a tasteful street-facing facade that incorporates heritage design elements and respects the aesthetic fabric of our neighbourhood.  Find out more and see the before and after photos in this nomination file.


Spring 2015 Heritage Conservation: Andrew Laderman and Rachel Gerstein

The owners of 312 Optical were presented with a Heritage Conservation award for their restoration of the premises at 312 College Street. The Gerstein family has a long history of doing business in the area: Rachel’s great-grandmother bought the building in 1932 and ran a hardware store at Robert and College for many years. (You can hear some great stories about it in the interview with Linda and Michael Farberman on the Harbord Village Oral History website.)

Spring 2015 Community Builder: Rebecca Glass and Tim Gleason

Rebecca Glass and Tim Gleason are lawyers who provided pro bono work through the firm of Dewart Gleason LLB while representing HVRA at the Ontario Municipal Board during the Central Tech field issue.

Spring 2015 Community Builder: Beata Bowron

Beata is a professional planner who worked with the HVRA, the Grange Community Association, and the Huron-Sussex Residents’ Organization in our discussions with the city and the Ontario Municipal Board on the development at 245 College; she also helped later with the Central Tech file.

Spring 2015 Community Builder: Ceta Ramkhalawansingh

2014 HVRA Community Builder AwardSeen in the photo at left addressing the Fall 2014 AGM, Ceta served with distinction as interim city councillor in the last half of 2014. She voluntarily participated as a party at the Ontario Municipal Board hearings on Central Tech —even after her term as councillor ended. She also worked energetically with residents’ associations on the development at 245 College.

Spring 2015 Community Builder: Richard Gilbert

Tim Grant, Richard Gilbert, Gus SinclairRichard is a former city councillor and a longtime member of the HVRA board. The photo at left shows him with the HVRA Chairs Tim Grant and Gus Sinclair. The award recognizes his many years of service to the community. Among many other projects initiated by Richard over the years, he was pivotal in launching the Oral History project.

Fall 2014 Community Builder: Sharron Richards

2014 Community Builder awardFor showing extraordinary courage and compassion in coming to the assistance of two young women who had been mugged, robbed and physically beaten on Major Street south of Ulster. Answering one’s door at 2:30 in the morning is not routine, especially to find two women in distress, one bleeding profusely from the head. On the morning of October 30, 2014. Sharron did not hesitate to bring the women inside and tend their wounds with towels; she called the police, who arrived quickly with an ambulance. Harbord Village is proud of Sharron’s actions on that night. Click here to see Sharron tell CBC-TV about the late-night knock on her door.

Spring 2013 Community Builder: Sylvia Porretta

Through Sylvia’s efforts, the entire length of Sussex Mews Laneway has remained graffiti-free for several years. Building on a network of friends and neighbours, she convinced others to join her campaign to clear the eastern part of the neighbourhood of graffiti. She bought paint and supplies. Virtually every day, she painted out tags on bins, garages, fences, and building sides as soon as they occurred, and in the winter of 2013, expanded her paintout to Harbord Street. Through her efforts, photos, and police reports, police were able to apprehend one of the principal taggers in Sussex Mews Lane. She has shown diligence, tact, generosity and community-mindedness and now is co-chair of the HVRA graffiti committee. We admire and applaud her work.

Spring 2013 Community Builder: Stephen Simpson

From August 2012 to this date, Stephen has been painting out neighbourhood graffiti on his own time, often with supplies he bought himself. Rain, sleet, snow, Stephen patrolled the Sussex Mews Laneway and other neighbourhood lanes and streets daily. When tags occurred, he painted them out. He talked to police, businesses, and neighbours to keep our laneways free of unwanted tags. He also expanded the Sussex Mews Lane paintout to a number of businesses on Harbord St. Stephen has shown that dogged determination, dedication and concern for the community can have the most beneficial results. We applaud his work on our behalf.

Spring 2013 Heritage Restoration: Anna Hagithomas and Anastasios Chatzimichail

For their restoration of 82 Brunswick to its underlying beauty and dignity.

2013 Front-Yard Gardens: Multiple Award Recipients

The photos show why these gardens and their gardeners received special awards for beautifying the neighbourhood and raising the spirits of all who walk by. Click on any photo to see enlarged images.

Fall 2012 Community Builder: Jan Muszynski

Selling raffle tickets at the HVRA Fall FairIn the early 2000’s Jan was a board member for several years of the very new HVRA.  But without a doubt his biggest contributions to Harbord Village have come through his enormous, tireless and enduring efforts towards the HVRA’s Annual Fall Fair. For one thing, he has worked on the Fall Fair for 19 of its 20 years. He does ALL the canvassing and collecting of items for the silent auction and raffle. During the Fair itself, he is the first one on site in the morning and the last to leave at night. In the middle he sells raffle tickets to cops and others, he helps in the set up and breakdown of the park—he is there till the very end. Throughout the day, he is all the while eternally cheerful and unflappable. Jan is the perfect Community Builder and so worthy of this honour.

Fall 2012 Community Builder: Marilyn Martin

HVRA Community Builder award, 2012Marilyn has been for many years a quiet force for beautifying our neighbourhood, whether via guerilla gardening or helping take care of the large flower pots on Harbord. Over the years she and her husband Bryan Mangrum have organized several charity yard sales including one in 2007 for victims of the Robert Street fire. This past spring, Marilyn helped organize the First Annual Harbord Village Neighbourhood Yard Sale with the proceeds going to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Fall 2012 Community Builder: Judy Perly

HVRA Community Builder Award, 2012Judy Perly, the doyenne of Free Times Café, has seen her creation become an institution inside Harbord Village and beyond.  A pillar of Toronto’s folk music scene for over 30 years, Free Times has at the same time always been ready to support community initiatives and good neighbourhood causes. Judy is part of the furniture of Harbord Village and our community would not be the same without her.

Fall 2011 Community Builder: The Sharin Brothers

HVRA hereby recognizes brothers Mirwais, Ansar, Edris and Shayaq Sharin, partners in the Pizza Nova franchise located at Lippincott and Harbord, for being exemplary citizens and neighbours. As newcomers to Harbord Village, the Sharin Brothers wasted no time in joining in Community projects right from the start. As the Founding Sponsors of the HVRA Clean-up in 2010, they generously gave away hats, bags and free pizza to all participants. In 2011, they fed over 100 Central Tech students with free pizza for the same event. Harbord Village is the richer for their presence among us.

Fall 2011 Heritage Restoration: Alberto Merelles

For saving 61 Brunswick Avenue from decades of demolition by neglect through a painstaking, year-long restoration which, by honouring the intentions of its architect and the craftsmanship with which it was built, has returned this magnificent house to its original status as one of the finest among its neighbours in Harbord Village Heritage Conservation District.

Fall 2011 Heritage Restoration: Rene and Elizabeth Roy, Stuart and Joan Schoenfeld

For collaborating with each other as neighbours and with Leigh Bamford of Stone Angels in the restoration of the brickwork of 208 and 210 Robert Street, and for collaborating in the painting of these attached properties in a heritage-appropriate colour scheme. Thanks to your efforts, a splendid contribution has been made to the integrity and beauty of Harbord Village Heritage Conservation District.

Fall 2011 Heritage Restoration: Bernard King Fai Ng

For conserving the original peak of 74 Brunswick Avenue for the day when that magnificent house might be restored to its original appearance as a vibrant part of the Harbord Village Heritage Conservation District.

Spring 2010 Community Builder: Bill O’Neill

HVRA Community Builder Award, 2010For services to the residents of Harbord Village in helping to heal past disputatious relations between the residents of our Community and the Institution that inhabits the area between Brunswick and Major Streets north of College; and by making available the wonderful venue of Kensington Health Centre for meetings and gatherings of various parts of the Community that is Harbord Village.

Fall 2010 Community Builder: Neil Stephenson

For services to the residents of Harbord Village and the members of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association. This award is presented specifically for organizing a highly successful Community Clean-Up in the South West Area of Harbord Village. Thank you, Neil.

Fall 2010 Community Builder: Dale Duncan

2009 HVRA Community Builder AwardHVRA is has been all the better for having you in the Councillor’s Office these last few years and we are sorry that you have to move on. You were the most accurate, quickest study, and most poised of associates. We learned a lot together and from one another. We always had your support, and if you didn’t know the answer, we could count on you saying so…. and then finding out! At the same time, you were always patient and professional, and that is hard to do when people get a bit riled up and upset about things. You were discreet and kept confidences. And you cared. You have made a real difference to the neighbourhood. Think only of the strides in heritage preservation and the bur oak! And the wins at the OMB, and getting the streets washed after the pipes were replaced. Some of it would seem little stuff, but little stuff really matters. We are certain we have not heard the last of one another. We look forward to watching your progress but for sure, Thank you for a job well done.

Fall 2010 Community Builder: Cyril Greenland

2009 HVRA Community Builder AwardFor services of extraordinary importance and value to the residents of our Community, formerly Sussex-Ulster, currently Harbord Village. (Cyril and his wife Jane Donald are seen at left in a photo from the 1980s.) Since moving to lower Brunswick in 1967, Cyril has been a power for good amongst us, a voice of reason in disputes, the soul of discretion in keeping confidences, indefatigable in making peace, a perfect exemplar of good humour and grace under pressure, a striver for betterment of his community, and a fearless advocate for the homeless and less fortunate amidst us. In brief, Cyril has been a rational and sane voice espousing neighbourhood community values for his entire time amongst us. We are in his debt.

Fall 2009 Community Builder: David and Kathy Wurfel

2009 HVRA Community Builder awardIn recognition for many services to the residents of Harbord Village in a multitude of ways, viz.:

  • David  Wurfel has participated in many initiatives of HVRA throughout the years. He sat on the Citizens’ Committee that wrote the Constitution of HVRA, sat on the Board of HVRA and was its first Secretary, sat as a member of the Constitution and Nominations Committee for many years.
  • Kathy Wurfel has been an unabashed promoter of HVRA in all its roles in the community. She has been the Convenor of the Constitution and Nominations Committee for many years and a longstanding member of the Fall Fair Committee.

Fall 2009 Community Builder: Rory (Gus) Sinclair

2009 HVRA Community Builder AwardAwarded for being the pillar of our community as HVRA’s President, 2001-2009.  HVRA could not have done what it has without you!

Spring 2009 Community Builder: Catherine Spears

2009 HVRA Community Builder AwardFor services to the residents of Harbord Village in the matter of the HVRA appeal  to the Ontario Municipal Board on 580 Spadina, said services being well above the call of duty and resulting in a complete vindication of neighbourhood planning principles endorsed by HVRA.

Fall 2008 Community Builder: Jane Auster

HVRA Community Builder awardFor services to HVRA. She sat on the HVRA Board for many years, was instrumental in organizing clean-ups of the neighbourhood, edited the newsletter while on the Board and continues to do so since moving away from the area in 2007. Her cheerful good nature is an inspiration to all of us

Fall 2007 Community Builder: Carmen Gauthier

HVRA Community Builder AwardFor extraordinary service to HVRA with respect to Planning and Heritage Conservation. Carmen was instrumental in researching and coordinating the accuracy of all research for HCD Phase 1 and Phase 2 and in providing documentation for and appearing as a witness at the Ontario Municipal Board in support of HVRA’s opposition to projects at 578 and 580 Spadina.

(Dates unknown for the following awards: please send information to

Community Builder: Cathy Nasmith

HVRA Community Builder AwardFor services to HVRA above and beyond the call of duty with respect to the founding of the first two Heritage Conservation Districts. Cathy attended innumerable meetings of residents and City Staff in order to make these come about, and wrote two Heritage Guidelines reports that are examples for any future Heritage Architect of how it should be done. (They’re on our Heritage Conservation page.)

Community Builder: Helen Breslauer

HVRA Community Builder awardHelen spearheaded a Major Street street sale which was a great success. Not only did her efforts help neighbours trim the excess from their basements and closets, it brought them all together as a community. A group of fiddlers even provided impromptu entertainment. Helen has also initiated street events in the past.


Heritage Restoration

(The photos show why these houses received the awards, but other information is missing. If you can supply it, please write