By Kathryn Stocks
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the official opening of Jean Dempsey Gate, a small street running west off Meadowvale Rd. just north of Lawrence Ave.
The street was named by Scarborough Council in 1972 to honour the memory of Jean Dempsey, an active community member and one of the founders of the CCRA who served as secretary. She was married to Bill Dempsey, founding president of the CCRA, and they had three children. Jean was also a former president of the Centennial Road Home and School Association and a member of Centennial United Church. She died at the age of 52 in a tragic traffic accident on Sept. 22, 1971, after being hit by two cars while trying to cross Highway 2A on her way to a church meeting.
As one who loved the beauty of nature, Jean was concerned about the retention of land for public purposes and the preservation of the environment. She devoted much effort to the acquisition of land for the 40-acre Adams Park in this community.
In 1978, Scarborough Council approved the construction by the Dempsey family of two fieldstone pillars to be placed at the entrance of Jean Dempsey Gate to commemorate her contribution to community service. The pillars were constructed of field stone from the demolished barn on the Watson farm. The magnificent sugar maples that line the street and look golden in the fall were also planted there in Jean’s memory.
On September 30, 1978, a ceremony took place at Wanita Park for the “Presentation, Acceptance, Dedication and Official Opening” of Jean Dempsey Gate. William Alexander Bond Dempsey, Jean’s son, presented the gate and it was accepted by Scarborough mayor Paul Cosgrove.
So if you happen to be on Jean Dempsey Gate, be sure to admire the lovely trees and stone pillars that have stood there for 40 years and take a moment to think of Jean.