August 13, 2009
By Trevor Suffield, The Metro
A couple that has been working to preserve the history of Charleswood is being celebrated with a ceremony along the scenic Harte Trail next weekend. On Aug. 22, at 11 a.m., Len and Verna Van Roon will be honoured with a plaque dedication ceremony paying tribute to their devotion to an area in which Len has lived since 1929.
The Friends of the Harte Trail, which oversees the five-kilometre trail from Elmhurst Road to the Perimeter Highway, is hosting the ceremony located just off the Harte Trail close to Cullen Drive.
The plaque will be unveiled to the couple in the Van Roon Prairie Garden, which was previously named after them, and features a wide assortment of indigenous plants to the area.
Len, 87, and his wife Verna, 89, are proud of recognition but are quick to heap the praise on the FOHT for their own efforts. “It’s quite an honour for people to name things after you. I think it’s a very nice project,” says Len who has lived in the same house since 1929. “But that’s the effort of those people, we didn’t have anything do with it. But it’s a great community for supporting.”
Len, who has been married to Verna for 62 years, modestly says that they were only doing what anyone else would have. “What we were trying to do was preserve local history, because the big picture is OK and the details can get lost,” says Len, who wrote a book with Verna about Charleswood’s history.
Hilary Hanson, president of the non-profit FOHT, says the tribute is one small way to say thank you to a family whom has dedicated their lives to the community. “We wanted to name it in honour of them because they’ve done so much for Charleswood, and us, over the years,” says Hanson. Lois Caron, who has lived in Charleswood for 50 years, and says the Van Roons were instrumental in keeping the integrity of the Harte Trail, which was officially opened in 2000. “They were the ones who got out there and fought for it because were going to make this a street to hit the Perimeter Highway,” says Caron.
The trail, which follows the rail bed of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, was established in 2000 and was named after the old railway subdivision in the area. Grants and donations helped fund the development of the garden and the cost of the plaque. FOHT member Margaret Young, who has lived in Charleswood for 37 years, says the area is priceless. “The trails and green space are so valuable to our city, as well as the hawks and deer and wildlife, and it’s just a nice trail to walk on and enjoy,” says Young.
Hanson says that the Van Roons and their contribution to Charleswood will long be remembered, even with residential development in the area looming. The public is welcome to attend the plaque dedication ceremony taking place at the Van Roon Prairie Garden on Sat. Aug. 22 at 11 a.m.
For more information email or call 897-5991.