The allure of living in the Village community wasn’t quite as strong 25 years ago, with the patch of land off Niagara Stone Road a far cry from the development that stands today.
The first resident of the Village, Shirley Rock, moved in back in 1998 and hasn’t left since.
At the community’s 25th anniversary celebration in Dietsch Park on Tuesday, Rock came out along with other original residents to indulge in conversation – and cake.
For Rock, the most alluring part of the community 25 years ago was the promise of new urbanism.
She told The Lake Report that after watching a program on TV about it all those years ago, she took the opportunity to be part of something she never experienced growing up.
Danny Pehar moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake from Mississauga around a year ago, choosing the Village for its close-knit community feel amid the beauty and culture of NOTL.
“When you walk down the street and say hi to people, you know them and they know who you are,” he said.
When it comes to what has changed most in over two decades, one of the original residents Warren Fraser summed it up.
“There’s a little bit of mud now. There was lots of mud before,” he joked.
And it is true – more development is under way, said John Hawley, the builder behind it all.
“I’m not letting out any secrets today,” said Hawley.
“I think everyone will be thrilled and it’ll be a beautiful ending to crescendo what we’ve done.”
Along with words from Village Community Association president Ardeth Staz, Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa and Hawley, a donation was made to Rising Angels charity, an organization that supports women who have been affected by commercial sexual exploitation.
The $1,300 donation was In honour of Hawley’s late wife Liz, who played a key role in the development of the Village.
“She was as instrumental in this as I was. We discussed everything and reviewed everything together,” said Hawley. “We would not be here without Liz.”