Patsy still remembers everyone celebrating New Year’s 1990 when she moved into Amicae Co-op. She’d grown up in Dundalk, Ireland, “halfway between Dublin and Belfast. I’d never heard of co-op housing before I came to Canada.”
At the time she and her husband and young daughter lived in another part of the West End neighbourhood. With her husband working for an hourly wage she was looking for more security in their housing, “…so that when I have a home it stays a home.”
She started to look for co-ops and saw there was one just up the hill.
“And then, by pure fluke, my daughter was going to this preschool and I met a lady there who was from this co-op and I said, ‘Do you have vacancies?’ and she said there was an open house.”
They went to the open house, had an interview with the co-op and a year later were offered a spot.
“I love co-op housing!” she says. “The best way I can describe it is my daughter is an only child but here were at least seven other children who were also only children and they all played together. It’s like living on a small street in Ireland: your neighbours are there, everyone looking out for everyone.”
Patsy served on the co-op’s board twice, and spent many years on the membership committee, “interviewing people, learning about all the different people: it was fascinating.”
She still knows who lives in all 56 units and knows that if anything happens they’re all there for each other.
“I really like it I have to say. I’d grown up living in houses and apartments were a whole new reality.” Amicae is an apartment building co-op, but she noticed the difference right away. In the apartment where they lived when her daughter was born, “if you got a hello you were doing well.”
Looking back, Patsy reflects, “It was a perfect fit. Nowhere do I feel as secure as I feel in my apartment.”
Patricia Stewart is a 2020 winner of our Century of Co-operation Awards that celebrates long-time co-op members whose age plus their years of living in a co-op community equals 100 years or more.