Great Place to Live
Shelley Divnich Haggert
Issue #16: Summer 2001
hundred and eleven years ago, the thriving community that American
distiller Hiram Walker built achieved town status. Originally
a company town bounded by Montreuil (one street east of Walker),
Riverside on the north, Kildare on the west and Wyandotte Street
on the south and inhabited almost exclusively by Walkers
employees, the area grew with the fortunes of the Walker family.
development was restricted laterally due to the neighbouring municipalities
of Windsor and Ford City (the town did expand westward slightly
creating a new border that ran along the alley between Lincoln
and Gladstone right down the middle of the Tivoli Theatre),
Walkerville grew primarily in a southerly direction.
Walkers sons developed the area between Wyandotte and Ottawa
following Britains "Garden City Plan" with Willistead Manor
and St. Marys Church as its centre. Here are found what
are considered the grandest homes in Walkerville with the largest
more people arrived to staff the numerous factories springing
up along the industrial corridor of Walker Road, the town grew
yet again. The large area between Ottawa and Tecumseh was developed
and then in 1922, the first house was built south of Tecumseh
Road. By 1935, when Walkerville was forcibly amalgamated with
Windsor, the town extended all the way south to Memorial Drive.
Walkerville is one of the most attractive areas in Windsor. Residents
take pride in its historic architecture and beautiful gardens.
And the rebuilt King Edward School and Market Square demonstrate
that new structures can retain a traditional "Walkerville" feel.
residents love it here. The Page Family of Chilver Road moved
from Toronto 19 years ago and chose to live in Walkerville, primarily
because it reminded them of the neighbourhood they had left behind.
Susan enjoyed working right in her neighbourhood on Ottawa Street
for many years. Her three daughters, Laura, Rosie and Lindsay,
relished trips with their dad Stewart to the lunch counter at
Woolworths and picking up fresh bread from Pierres
Baguette. Willistead Park was always a family favourite, though
Susan actually prefers the quiet park beside St. Georges
Anglican Church at the south end of Devonshire.
girls first taste of "school" was at the Richmond Learn
as You Play Group (now in its 31st year. Lindsay eventually enrolled
in the Performing Arts program at the Windsor Centre for the Performing
Arts (WCCA) and Laura is currently doing post-graduate work in
Toronto. Not surprisingly, she has chosen to live in a neighbourhood
that reminds her of her Walkerville home.
families have moved on, Susan has noticed that many new neighbours
arent so new, having moved within Walkerville, rather than
to it from somewhere else. In fact, second and even third generations
have settled just blocks from the homes where they grew up.
Simpson has lived in Walkerville most of her life; her parents
founded Teron Signs. Marg raised three children in South Walkerville.
Fifteen years ago, she and second husband Ray (also with ties
to the neighbourhood) moved to their present house on Windermere
and now Margs grandchildren are growing up in Walkerville.
and Ray appreciate their proximity to Wyandotte and Ottawa Streets.
According to Marg, one of the advantages to shopping in the area
is the attention paid to customers by individual shopkeepers and
the ability to develop a relationship with them.
retired from the Childrens Aid Society, Marg enjoys walking
her dog Molly in Willistead Park. Walkervilles sense of
continuity and community add to its appeal for Marg and Ray. Marg
is also pleased to see the area becoming ethnically diverse.
sense of community ties Lizabeth and Douglas Sanborn to the area
as well. The two Walkerville Collegiate alumni are raising their
children on Willistead Crescent, just a short stroll from the
tranquility of Willistead Park.
grew up in the area in fact, Douglas lived right on the
crescent and knew they wanted to return eventually. Theyve
lived here for 3 years; daughters Monica and Erika attend Ecole
LEnvolee on Ottawa Street while little brother Stephen helps
Lizabeth in the gardens until hes old enough to join his
sisters at school. Wyandotte, Ottawa and Erie Street shopping
are added benefits for the Sanborn family.
Kris Gosselin returned to Windsor with her two children, South
Walkerville was her destination. The safety of the neighbourhood
and the proximity to good schools were key factors in her decision.
Born and raised there, Kris takes pride in the fact that her children
are the third generation of the family to attend Hugh Beaton.
a child, Kris and her friends enjoyed tobogganing at Memorial
Park, and now Kris, Adam and Katelyn enjoy cycling around the
neighbourhood that is so much a part of their familys history.
to Tecumseh Road, the South Walkerville Library and Schwabs
are all advantages, as are the quiet, tree-lined streets and friendly
neighbours. The Gosselin family has lived on Vimy Road for 5 years
now, and Kris doesnt hesitate to recommend Walkerville to
friends moving in from out of town.
a small company town to a diverse and growing community, Walkerville
has aged gracefully. New homes appear in the midst of traditional
neighbourhoods, but the sense of community, that "small-town feeling"
remains. Hiram Walker hoped Walkerville would retain its community
spirit and civic pride and it has.
all right here, hidden in the midst of big-city Windsor.