Welcome to our 2020 Bucket List Edition.
I’ve never published one of these before. The idea came to me almost a year ago after a conversation with Brad Jones from Ridley Funeral Home.
I asked myself: “Why not write about what people would like to accomplish before they die?” To which I replied: “Sure, sounds like a great idea!”
Well the timing worked perfectly for this one. Not because we’re smack dab in the middle of a pandemic, but because Brad is celebrating Ridley’s 100th anniversary this month. That’s right...100 years! Amazing. Ridley Funeral Home is the oldest business on the Lakeshore.
Congratulations, Brad! Wishing you, your family, and your staff a wonderful celebration. Thank you for letting us feature you on our cover.
No Bucket List Edition would be complete without, well...bucket lists! Check out our Print Mag to read what some inspiring Bucket List stories.
Finally, I’d just like to wish our big fella, Jax, a very happy 8th birthday. He’s up to my shirt pocket now, so I think I’ll be looking up at him by the time he’s 10.
Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!
Publisher, Etobicoke Lakeshore Press
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The oldest business on Lakeshore is home to the most dead but claims its parlours aren’t haunted. As Ridley Funeral Home prepares to celebrate 100 years of helping the living by taking care of the dead, funeral director Brad Jones looks to the past and contemplates the future of his family-owned business. With none of us permitted to linger in groups anymore and generic greetings replacing authentic conversations, Brad wonders how we’ll find our way back to feeling at home within ourselves and with each other.
Do you like food trucks? Me, too.
It’s why my staff and I had planned on treating you to hot dogs and burgers in our parking lot this fall. I am what is called a “food motivated” person – I like to eat alone and with others – so it’s no wonder my bucket list included a delicious celebration of 100 years in the community.
What’s not to love? Well, a lot. As you’ve guessed the global pandemic put a giant “Nope!” sign on my big dream and your free hot dog.
Thanks to Covid, I see our 100th anniversary through a whole new lens.
We opened in 1921, one year after the end of the Spanish flu pandemic.
In storytelling, there’s a concept called “bookending;” the best stories start and end in the same place but the listener is transformed after the tale is told.
Imagine that. Those black-and-white photos (see pages 16 & 17) showing us how much our community has changed also reveal how little our human family changes.
Whether it’s 1921 or 2021, we are interconnected.
One individual can affect the whole positively or negatively.
Emotions, beliefs and actions heal us or harm us.
Love, like fear, spreads and infects others.
In a marriage, an anniversary is celebrated not as an ending but a beginning; a new chapter with characters older, wiser (fatter?) and changed from who they once were.
The same can be said of a business anniversary.
My family and I live full-time above our funeral home. We’re a modern work-life family living in a former farmhouse older than Canada.
Despite my wife’s bucket list moment this summer – a fully renovated kitchen that’s no longer an 80s nightmare – life is challenging when you’re juggling work, family and social bubbles that include staff, strangers and grieving families.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
None of us can mask the burdens we’re carrying through this pandemic. All of us, to some degree, are grieving loss whether it’s a death or a disappointment.
Although we’re all weathering the same storm, each of us greets the rain from a different place.
When I started working at Ridley’s 29 years ago, eight people worked here and most commuted from other communities; some as far away as Guelph!
We now employ 18 staff and all of them are proudly local.
As I look back on 100 years of cherishing the living by minding their dead, I am grateful I am more similar than special to the funeral directors before me.
My staff and I work here, live here, play here. (Sometimes rage and rant about community changes here.) And Covid doesn’t have any of us straying too far.
Etobicoke is very much our orbit and our world just as it is for you.
Times have changed since 1921 but our close connection to our community and our neighbours is refreshingly old-fashioned.
Perhaps none of us are quite ready to talk about the “gifts of Covid” and how our lives have simultaneously shrunk drastically while opening deeply.
For example, I have never, ever, ever spent this much time with my wife and kids.
Uninterrupted. Full time. Constant.
And yes, like you, I can make that observation with joy and gratitude just as easily as with a sigh and groan.
Most small towns still have funeral homes that house a family of funeral directors. But in Toronto it’s rare.
As much as I love history, I don’t know what inspired the Baycroft family 100 years ago to convert their family home into a funeral parlour.
At the time people were slowly shying away from hosting “parlour” visitations and services in their living room when a loved one died.
Perhaps the Baycrofts longed for a more purpose-driven and public life so chose to open their doors, and their entire lives, to the communities of Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch; communities still shellshocked by the horrors of the First World War.
Or maybe my undertaker “ancestors” were compelled to come here because of a calling or vocation. They wanted to feel included, valued, liked, respected and loved.
The Baycroft family likely felt safe here, strong, without threat of harm, fear or illness. I hope they felt the good feelings that come from being kind, fair, generous and loving to the families they lived among and served during times of loss and sadness.
I hope 100 years ago the Baycroft funeral home was a happy home. A place of community sadness and connection downstairs among the pews and a place of family joy and connection upstairs around the kitchen table.
As I look backward and forward with our 100th anniversary as a map as well as a beacon, I realize how truly, deeply grateful I am to have been called to this profession and this part of the world.
I could not have asked for a better life.
True, it’s odd undertakers deal in death while shining a light on what makes life worth living.
We grieve because we love. We grieve because we are alive. Not one person on this planet is excluded from the pain and gifts of grief.
Then and Now.
Ridley’s has evolved from a farmhouse older than Canada into
Toronto’s only funeral parlour with a family living upstairs (photo below).
Owners Brad and Jody Jones and their six children have never seen a ghost inside their home.
People like me, whether the Baycroft family or my family, who serve the dead understand how the story ends.
We see, figuratively and literally, how people are changed and transformed by loss.
Like all calamities, whether 100 years ago, 10,000 years ago or starting in March 2020, we can choose to be broken down or opened up by what destroys our “normal.”
Life does not stay the same.
My first-year wedding anniversary was not the same as my recent 28th anniversary.
Same wife, different life, and still I am content and grateful.
One hundred years ago this funeral home opened its doors to our community.
Same place, different life, and they were content and grateful.
I believe the ability to feel contentment is a key component of emotional well-being. Living life with purpose and gratitude makes us stronger, kinder and more resilient. We’re better able to accept the really unfair stuff, especially the fading of
light that comes when we are visited, and forever changed, by death.
When I purchased this funeral home in 2013, I felt euphoric and terrified. But I was inspired by the funeral director families before me: Baycroft, Ridley, Nill.
Ridley Funeral Home, 2020.
In 100 years I hope this building still stands and inside lives joy and pain. Laughter and tears. Love and community. Stories and secrets. Hope and support. Resilience and strength.
These are the ghosts that live here; emotions and connections that make us feel alive and bring us back from loss so we can live again.
Thank you, reader, for making our funeral home a family home for 100 years.
Furry Grief Companion.
“Arthur” is Ridley’s newest family member and hardworking intern.
Therapy dogs comfort mourners, especially grieving children, by offering a
positive boost in mood. Arthur will be certified and ready for service next fall.
Brad Jones is president of locally-owned, commission-free Ridley Funeral Home in Etobicoke.
These days he can be found interrogating his six children about “scoop the poop” etiquette and secretly snuggling with “Arthur,” the family’s three-month-old golden doodle (golden retriever and poodle).
You’re welcome to wish Brad and staff Happy 100th by calling 416.259.3705 or emailing him at: BradJones@RidleyFuneralHome.com.
Rain checks for anniversary hot dogs and burgers happily available.
RIDLEY FUNERAL HOME
3080 Lake Shore Blvd West
RE/MAX High Country Realty Inc., Brokerage
(519) 477-0418 / www.reubenmccallum.com
Introducing Reuben McCallum, a Realtor and Resident of Grey County, Ontario.
Reuben will be contributing content to the Etobicoke Lakeshore Press to highlight the growing movement of people who are leaving city life behind in order to pursue a simpler, quieter life in the country.
Back in the 90’s my family decided to leave the city and head to the country. We bought a bungalow on 1 acre in Grey County surrounded by farmland and forest. Soon after, my family moved to a farm and never looked back!
30 years later, I’m selling the country lifestyle as a Realtor with RE/MAX High Country Realty Inc., based in the Municipality of Grey Highlands.
Over the last 8 years, many of my clients have been people relocating, saying good-bye city...hello country! Everyone is after something different – a farm, ski chalet, cabin in the woods, house with a view, or a retirement home in a cute, small town.
I get excited when I get to tell clients: Yes, you can find that here in Grey County. The bonus is, it’s less than 2 hours north of Toronto so you can keep one foot in the city.
Country life isn’t for everyone, though, but it sure is trending.
More and more people are realizing that they can work from home and still make ends meet. People are starting to question expenses such as daycare, transit, and a big mortgage payment for a home that’s close to the office they’re not going to anymore.
Imagine for a second how it would feel if you could still earn a comfortable living where you’d be surrounded by nature and fresh air.
No Traffic (save for the odd horse and buggy).
No Daycare (many of my clients who’ve moved from the city have decided that Mom or Dad can now stay home with the kids).
No Rush (to drop the kids off at school; the bus picks them up and drops them off at the end of your driveway).
No Sirens (you’ll likely hear more horses than emergency vehicles).
No Crime (well, not zero crime but compared to Toronto, Grey County is a heck of a lot safer).
And No Mortgage (or a much smaller one than you’re currently paying)!
Now how do you feel? If your first thought was a sense of relief, then maybe we should chat.
I can’t promise you the world, but I can promise you Grey County.
By: Isabel McDonald, Manager
I started volunteering at Claireville Ranch as a young girl. It truly is one of my favourite places in the world. Whenever I had any free time growing up I was always at the Ranch.
It was a dream of mine growing up to someday be able to manage the Ranch. I spent a few years away in my early twenties doing other “real jobs” including accounting positions at various car dealerships. When I finally reached my lifelong goal of being able to own my own horse, I was back at the Ranch daily and the opportunity to manage came my way.
It was a no-brainer on my end and I have been happy here for the last 5 years getting to do what I love and getting paid to do it. Not many people get that chance in life so I consider myself VERY lucky to have been given the opportunity!
Canadian Medical Equipment Supply is making PPE in Etobicoke - in Alderwood, to be exact.
The company prides itself on the production of high-quality masks and protective clothing made in Canada.
As we enter into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for quality PPE is at an all-time high. Quality, being the operative word.
How good is your mask?
Where was it made?
These are questions people are asking now as concerns of inadequate PPE surface.
Locally-made masks and protective clothing are helping to relieve these concerns as consumers gain peace of mind that their masks, as well as the ones they place on their kids, are made in Canada.
Canadian Medical Equipment Supply
15 Akron Rd, Etobicoke