Larry Willis’ thoughts about Wardsville

Larry Willis grew up in Wardsville and then moved away.  Here are the ideas he submitted to the First Impressions Committee in April:

1. What makes Wardsville unique is not one thing in particular, but a combination of things.It
has a place in history that dates it back to the early days of pre-confederation Canada. That
history is rich in people who have made a difference to both Wardsville and the surrounding area.
Wardsville has been blessed with some inhabitants who have went beyond the borders of the town to
seek a life elsewhere, who have achieved prominence in the arts and sciences, and who return to
Wardsville to recapture their roots and touch the earth again. I also think Wardsville is unique in
that it has a cadre of volunteers who refuse to stand by and let the town wither and die, and
instead, step forward and become involved in the revitalization of this great village.
2. The lifestyle in Wardsville is relaxed, but attentive. People in Wardsvile are aware of their
history and geographic uniqueness. I had the great fortune to run into a nephew of the baseball
great Fergie Jenkins,from Chatham, while I was shopping in Nelson, BC last year. The nephew knew
Wardsville from having played baseball here as a teenager. He told me how to find Wardsville in the
easiest possible way I have ever heard. Take #2 highway from Windsor or Chatham, and Wardsville is
at the bottom of the first big valley you come to. That is something that makes Wardsville what it
is. Memories and geography.

3. My first thoughts when I think about Wardsville are how great a place it was to grow up in,
and how rich the sport life was for a kid. We had no end of volunteers to coach every baseball
team, hockey team,etc., and we had winning teams a lot of the times. Wardsville natives also
contributed a great deal to teams from towns in the surrounding areas, and we had rivalies that
live on to this day with other towns.

4.Go fishing in the Thames. Go to Big Bend park. Go to the museum. Gently explore the cemeteries
to catch a glimpse of the past. Take a walk through the Newport Forest. Go golfing at one of the
greatest hidden treasures of a golf course you will find anywhere. Sit in the park and watch the
clouds go by. Sit on the bench on main street and eat an ice cream cone. Talk to the residents as
you walk the streets.

5. The Wardsville I would like to see over the next five years would involve work with the
Ontario government and SWM to get funding for historical projects and arts related initiatives. I
would like to see Wardsville become one of the hubs of a multi spoked local small community wheel
that would showcase local artists in all of the communities. I see a type of “Arts and Artisians”
route going from Wardsvile to surrounding communities. I would like to see the town hall in
Wardsville revitalized and opened to the public for such things as farmer’s markets, art shows,
photography exhibits, local crafts, and other public exhibits. I would also like to see local
talent showcased in the hall, and I see the Little Kin Park as an ideal venue for summer concerts,
outdoor plays, and large homecomings. I want to see Wardsville as a place that people want to go
home to, and as a place where people want to move to because it is so close to large centres, yet
so far from the noise and crowds. Over the next ten years, I expect to see a growth in the
population of Wardsville and the surrounding area due to the low cost of living in Wardsville, and
because of the vibrant arts and culture that we will bring to the area. I think that the
demographics are going to change in the Wardsville area, and we are going to see more thirty and
forty somethings people coming to town once we get out the word that it is a home of choice, and a
great choice for a home.

Larry Willis
April 11, 2009
Hassi Messaoud, Algeria.


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