The idea to have a neighbourhood party was cooked up by residents of 11th Street when they bumped into each other at the Elevate the Arts event this spring.
Elevate the Arts was an open-air public event, with a variety of activities to do with music, art, dance, circus.
A few 600 block 11th Street neighbours, who hadn’t seen each other for months, ran into each other and chatted, lamenting the fact that they hardly saw each other and commenting that they’d like to get to know others on their block a little better.
So it seemed a good idea to have a first annual block party, inviting everyone on the 600 block, and several others who lived in the neighbourhood. Invitations were made and delivered.
Dorothy Levett, 90, has an illustrious history with 11th Street (or Courtenay Avenue, as it was called) having lived there in different houses, for 85 of her 90 years.
Dorothy’s next door neighbour, Heather Wilkinson, had another thought — “What a great opportunity this would be to recognize Dorothy, and decorate her for ‘years of selfless service’ as Mayor of 11th Street.”
Dorothy’s maternal grandfather,Charles Shannon, came to Courtenay in the late 1800s. His tiny house with slanting floors and a big garden, still stands today on the corner of 11th and Grieve.
Dorothy’s father, Len Roberts, moved out to Courtenay in 1919, when he was 19 years old, and married Leah Shannon, Charles’ daughter.
Dorothy was born in 1922 in the house next door to her Granddad Shannon’s. Leah’s sister, Dorothy’s auntie, lived across the street in house that looks much like the Shannon house, being quite tiny, and although it grew, it never became very big.
Over the years, Dorothy lived in two homes with her parents, one with her husband and young son, Bob, and one on her own, built for her by her father after her husband died, many years ago, totalling four of the houses on the south side of the block.
On July 28, the 600 block of 11th Street had a party on the front lawns of Dorothy and the Kipp family.
Neighbours, some of whom hadn’t met or spoken much, although they had lived on the same block for many years, and some new to 11th gathered on Dorothy’s front lawn and shared potluck supper.
A stirring Mayoral Recognition Ceremony was held, heralded with fanfare on the trombone. Ribbons and medals were placed on a surprised Dorothy by neighbours in recognition of her many and varied contributions to the neighbourhood.
She was also recognized as an important Holder of the History of 11th Street. However, it did became apparent that others on the street, the Urquharts who are of the Hobson and Urquhart Courtenay families, also knew a great deal about the history of 11th having lived there for 49 years.
The neighbourhood gathering spanned ages 0 to 90 and a great time was had by all, and a greater sense of community and history born. Children played together as adults sat and shared food and stories.
Try one of your own in your neighbourhood, everyone on 11th had lots of fun and plan to have a second neighbourhood potluck, possibly before this year is up.
— 11th Street residents