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history revisited with coffee table book
Ted Shaw, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2006
off press: Elaine Weeks and Chris Edwards, publishers of
the Walkerville Times, pose with a copy of their newly published
book, The Best of Times. Photograph by: Dan Janisse, Star photo
Chris Edwards can trace his family's roots back several generations,
but he grew up not caring about what happened last week.
"Local history meant nothing to me," said
Edwards, 50, who along with his wife, Elaine Weeks, has just
published a lavish new edition of his Windsor history book, Best
of The Times.
"I had to move away then move back to appreciate what this
city had to offer," he said.
Best of The Times, 2006 edition, is an enlarged and updated version
of the 2004 coffee-table book published by their company, Walkerville
Publishing. All 3,000 copies of the first edition sold out within
It took Edwards and Weeks a year to put the first one together
from articles in their magazines, Walkerville Times and later The
Times. The new edition was another six months in the making.
"We take our history for granted," said
Weeks, 50, daughter of former mayor, the late Bert Weeks.
and I moved away for eight years. But after we returned, we had
a completely different perspective on the city."
grew up in Walkerville, while Edwards was from "the
other side of the tracks," according to Weeks, on Marentette
Avenue. Every day, they passed many of the landmarks that are now
in the book without once thinking about their significance.
"Now I look around us and can only imagine what these neighbourhoods
looked like," Weeks said, glancing out the window of their
company's offices in the former Walkerville post office on Devonshire
Like so many from the city, the two pursued careers outside Windsor.
Returning in 1998 with backgrounds in advertising and marketing,
they set up shop in old Walkerville and their renaissance began.
A year later, they launched Walkerville Times, a monthly publication
on local history and personalities. Later, they dropped Walkerville
from the name as their focus broadened to include the whole of
Windsor and Essex County.
Edwards grew up in Windsor the son of Jack Edwards, a city booster
and onetime campaign adviser to Bert Weeks. His mother's family,
the Marentettes, trace their roots back several generations and
were among the founders of Stoney Point.
Weeks moved here in 1946 from Montreal, opening a jewelry and
watch repair business on Ouellette Avenue. He quickly became active
in local politics and became mayor in 1975.
The first Best of The Times included nearly 1,000 photos and articles
drawn from the pages of The Times. Opening with Weeks' elaborate
biography of Walkerville's namesake, Hiram Walker, the book turned
out to be a surprising success.
"We didn't anticipate how big it would be," Edwards
said. "People were buying it for their parents, or for their
kids to show them what Windsor was like."
The original came out in 500 limited-edition hardcovers and 2,500
softcovers, but to meet demands, the new edition is all in hardcover,
"We took a little bit of a chance and priced it higher," Edwards
said. "But we wanted something people could treasure for years."
The edition is eight pages longer than 2004, with 12 new articles,
more photos, letters and updates. For 2006, Weeks contributed a
Legacy Profile of her late father. There's also a reprint of a
newspaper article about Bert Weeks' efforts to clean up police
corruption in the 1950s.
New to this edition are:
tribute to the late, great drive-in movie theatres of the area.
effort to save the former Lancaster bomber memorial at Jackson
- The "lost" bathing
beaches of Windsor.
- Ronald George Sears, Windsor's infamous "Slasher" of
of three of Essex County's historic homes -- Kingsville's Davis
H. McCay House, and two in Windsor: the John Wesley McConnell
House at 509 Crawford Ave.; and Foxley, the Albert Kahn-designed
home at 811 Devonshire Rd.
devastating fires in Windsor, in 1867 and 1871, which required
the help of Detroit firefighters to quell.
mystery over the location of graves of blacks who fled to the
area along the Underground Railroad.
coming-of-age reminiscence by Sonny Batstone about high school
swim teams and skinny-dipping.
Some of the highlights of the first edition remain, including:
history of local schools, such as Walkerville Collegiate, Lowe
Secondary and Edith Cavell elementary school.
of two race riots in Detroit in 1943 and 1967.
Al Roach's reminiscence of a Windsor Christmas in 1942.
endlessly fascinating stories of Windsor during Prohibition,
including large sections of Marty Gervais' book, The Rumrunners.
first explosion in the town of Essex in 1907.
"We wanted to create a history of Windsor and Essex County
that was fun and approachable," said Weeks. Twenty-five copies
have been purchased by the Greater Essex County District School
Board for school libraries.
"My father didn't come from Windsor," Weeks said, "but
he loved this city. What I'm doing is an extension, I believe,
of what he did but in a different way."
The 2004 edition created a sensation, prompting readers to scour
their attics and storage trunks for memorabilia and family artifacts.
Some of it turned up in the new edition, but lots more wound up
in files at Walkerville Publishing.
"I like to call it Windsor's one degree of separation," Edwards
said. "Everybody seems connected to everybody else in this
Is another edition of Best of The Times likely? Edwards thinks
took us a lot of time, six months, to put together, and we do
have a business to run. I don't think there'll be a third edition."
turned toward him and said, "Maybe."