Memories of John Godfrey, a politician ahead of his time

John Godfrey.
John Godfrey.
John Godfrey.
John Godfrey.

Lorna Krawchuk

I have two memories specifically of working with John Godfrey when he was the MP for Don Valley West.

John and his staff put a lot of time and effort into working with his provincial and municipal counterparts at the time (John Parker – Conservative MPP for York East and Lorna Krawchuk and Jenner Jean-Marie for Ward 4 at the Borough of East York). The aim especially was to lure businesses to what was then the Leaside Industrial Area who reflected the upcoming digital age. Sadly, it did not come to pass, but not for lack of John’s and the others’ efforts.

Another fond memory was of a commencement ceremony at Leaside High. Politicians at all levels were invited to participate in the stage party, and invited to wear academic gowns if they so chose. John chose. I’m not sure which degree he was honouring – he had earned a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College, University of Toronto, a Master of Philosophy from Balliol College, Oxford, and a Doctor of Philosophy from St. Antony’s College, Oxford. He also served as president of the University of King’s College in Halifax. Whichever institution, John’s outfit involved a flowing, colourful gown and a very floppy hat. Not something seen regularly at a Leaside commencement.

Carol Burtin Fripp

Other people have big ideas. John Godfrey had epiphanies.

I met John Godfrey shortly after his election in 1993 as Don Valley West’s new MP. While acquainting himself with his new position he had come across a copy of my just-completed report “Revitalizing the Leaside Industrial Area,” a study I had chaired for the Borough of East York, of which Leaside was a part. The LIA had long been a major source of revenue for our area, but heavy industries were beginning to move away from the LIA and out to the suburbs and beyond, shrinking our tax base. The study contemplated new and alternative future uses which might cause the LIA (and East York) to prosper once again.

John was enthused. More than that, he was energized as he read the report, and it occurred to him that the old LIA could (should!) become a “new media village.” “I’ve had an epiphany!” he exclaimed, and put a lot of effort into trying to make it a reality. We set up a meeting, one of several over the following months.

The new media village never fulfilled its promise. A great idea, and, sadly, also a few years before its time. But I will never forget John Godfrey’s happy pursuit of the idea, and the pleasure he took in that pursuit.

About Lorna Krawchuk 178 Articles
Lorna Krawchuk is publisher of Leaside Life. She is actively involved in St. Cuthbert’s Church. Her volunteer activities with the Leaside Property Owners’ Association led to her being elected a Councillor in the Borough of East York for 9 years before amalgamation in 1998. She also held a variety of volunteer leadership positions with the Girl Guides of Canada for over 30 years. Lorna has been a Leasider since 1968.