Neighbour Profile

Neighbour Profile – December 2015

Sam Ksiazek

In this edition of our newsletter, our neighbour profile focuses on the younger side of Don Mills. Sam Ksiazek has lived with his family in Don Mills all his life. That being said he’s only 10. Started school at Greenland and it now attending St. Bonaventure. He has 2 sisters, a cat and is hoping for dog this year. Sam plays Baseball at Bond Park for the NYBA, takes Karate and Diving lessons and loves to sail in the summer and snowboard in the winter. When asked how his grades were because he’s so busy, he modestly answers “well they’re good – I get mostly A’s.” He can’t wait until he’s 12 so can join the Army Cadets. He proudly talks about his family serving in the army and all the volunteer work they all do.

When Sam was 6 he met a bunch of kids up north in the Muskokas. He knew right away these children were some how different. He found out they weren’t different – they were fighting cancer. He tried to imagine being in their shoes – the doctors and hospital visits, missing school, not being able to play hockey on the street and all the things we take for granted. The children that he had met were going to a summer camp called OOCH. They offer summer camps to kids who are facing difficult circumstances, Camp OOCH gives these kids what they need most – the chance to be defined by who they are and not what they have.
Sam was so taken by what he had learned, that on his next birthday he asked everyone for cash, so he could donate it to the camp. Four years later he has donated over $2,000 to the OOCH. Hoping one day when he’s old enough
he can volunteer there. When I told Sam he was a special kid, he said “not really, I just want all kids to have fun”.

If you like to find out more about OOCH or donate please go to

Neighbour Profile – September 2015

Greg Thompson & the Don Mills Civitan Hockey League

Ask anyone in Don Mills and they will tell you that they all know the Don Mills Civitan Arena. The Civitan has been a staple in our community since 1957. A place where you can learn to skate, play hockey or come out on a Sunday afternoon for a free recreational skate with your neighbours. With the arena having to be moved by 2020, there’s been a lot of talk about where it should go and how we can keep it in Don Mills. Let’s hope that the powers that be and the community can work together to find the new perfect spot. But the Civitan is much more then its bricks and mortar, their volunteers are the heart of this arena.


In this issue we are profiling Greg Thompson, a coach at the Don Mills Civitan Hockey League. Greg grew up in Don Mills and now lives with his family a stone’s throw from the arena. He has been volunteering with the Civitan and the Don Mills Hockey League for over 18 years. From coaching to refereeing to master of ceremonies at the yearly hockey banquet, he seems to have done it all, but he is very quick to tell you he doesn’t do it alone. The men shown in the photo are just a few of many that help to keep this hockey league thriving. Don Mills Civitan Hockey League serves more then 500 community kids ages 4 – 18 with several different programs: House League, NYHL Select Mustangs, GTHL Mustangs, and a Hockey School. There are 360 hockey players every week that use the arena. Greg proudly talks about some of the special programs that they are all involved with: the Pro Action Hockey League introduces new Canadians to hockey and how the Civitan club helped to start the Donaldson’s Diamonds which caters to individuals who have intellectual disabilities. The Civitan is also an enthusiastic partner of the Best Buddies Program (of which Greg’s oldest daughter is the President) – giving students with intellectual disabilities the chance to experience what we take for granted.

Greg is happy with the new vision of the club and the direction they are going, including promoting hockey to more women and building a stronger volunteer base. The dictionary defines volunteering as “acting or done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward”. Well I think this describes Greg and his fellow volunteers to a T.

Neighbour Profile – June 2015

The Ballantyne Family

When Don Mills was first established in the early 50s, most of the community was comprised of growing or soon-to-be growing families. Don Mills was and is close knit. You could see it in the street parties, impromptu road hockey games or community projects. That feeling has never changed. The Ballantyne family reflects a lot of the spirit and activity that was and still is, the Don Mills established over 50 years ago.

Rob Ballantyne had spent his early years attending Overland school before the family moved to Montreal and then moving to Scarborough for his teen years. Sarah was raised in London Ontario before she and Rob settled in Don Mills in the winter of 99.

The Ballantyne family

Sarah and Rob have three boys who all attend school in Don Mills. Mark is in high school, Ben is at the middle school, and Sam is a senior at Greenland public school. All three boys have played hockey for DMCHL starting at the age of six (Ben now plays for North Toronto).

The Ballantynes love Don Mills. It has retained its strong sense of community. It feels safe. The boys can go to school from JK – grade 12 all within walking distance and everyone knows everyone.

Rob works from home as a storyboard artist for the film industry allowing him to walk his boys to school (well Sam only these days) and be there for them after school. Sarah works downtown and has been involved with the Don Mills

community since they moved here. She was involved in discussions to build the Green Belt playground and the Don Mills pond beside the DVP. She then volunteered for the DMRI as an area coordinator and has now taken on a role as the Chair for the student council at Greenland public school. Needless to say, between work, kids and her volunteering efforts, she has little time to spare!

If you do by chance drive by the Ballantyne’s on any given day, you’ll be likely to see a scene that could have been pulled directly from the Don Mills of yesteryear. That impromptu hockey game still erupts into action with cries of “Car!!!” to halt the game. Mark, Ben and Sam can also be seen in those early morning and late evening treks to and from the local school. They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Ballantyne family is certainly doing their part!

Neighbour Profile – March 2015

Yolanda Brockington’s Yearbooks

I am a kindergarten teacher at Norman Ingram Public School on Duncairn Road and it is my pleasure to recognize a remarkable member of the Don Mills community. For each of the past 10 years a beautiful yearbook has been produced for the Senior Kindergarten students in my class. This yearbook would not be possible without the contributions of a gracious volunteer, Yolanda Brockington. Over the course of the school year Yolanda carefully assembles the children’s work which has been collected for each book, and produces a treasure which all the children truly cherish. One would think that after 10 years and some 300 books (each 20 pages in length)Yolanda would be ready to take a break, but that is not the case. She still continues to produce the wonderful yearbooks for my class.


Like many residents of the Don Mills community, Yolanda established her roots many years ago. In 1967 she moved into the Mallow Road quadrant of Don Mills with her husband Robert. They raised two children, Kelly and Scott, who attended the local schools. Yolanda worked as a teaching assistant and a primary school teacher for the TDSB and its predecessor, the North York School Board, before retiring in 2004.

Yolanda’s daughter and her partner, Sean, have two children who attend Norman Ingram Public School. Reegan and Graeme are seen with their grandmother in the accompanying picture holding their yearbooks.
Yolanda now lives in the Hemingway Condominium which she moved into in Dec 2005.

Thank you Yolanda for the countless hours you have spent preparing these beautiful books. I trust you know they will be a keepsake forever.

Sandra Campbell (Kindergarten Teacher
– Norman Ingram Public School)’


Neighbour Profile – December 2014

Edie, Original Homeowner

I’ve always known that Don Mills is a special place. More than just beautiful homes and trees, it was always the people who lived here that truly made it wonderful. In our ongoing neighbour-hood profile highlighting ‘Remarkable Residents’, we are featuring an original – she is an original in many ways.

Edie grew up in Forest, ON. She met her husband in Aylmer, ON. where they were both stationed in the Air Force.

Edie and her family moved to Don Mills in 1955. The yards were still muddy and the plentiful trees were tall but very slender. It seemed like a good community to raise their three small children Sandi, Nancy and Beverly.

The Greenland Public School was just built, and very conveniently close to their family home. The girls walked to school each day. The Don Mills High School opened in 1959 and Edie’s eldest daughter Sandi, was in the first graduating class.

Edie speaks fondly of those early days in Don Mills, playing bridge with the neighbours, while their kids slept in their own beds, and parents would check in on them occasionally. Even now, she and her daughters refer to the different houses according to who used to live there years ago… “Oh that’s Kit Carson’s home, or that’s Jack’s place.” Funny – they’ve been gone from the neighbourhood for 20 years, and it’s still “their” home??

Edie has been driving since she was 13. She has promised her daughters that she will give up driving in December when she turns 91. (She’s very quick to mention that she can still drive with no problem but states that, “there’s just too many cars on the road now.”)

She earned her pilot’s licence when she was 45, and flew until she was 70. After working in an advertising agency for 23 years she reluctantly retired at 75 but often says she would still like to be working.

Edie – Thank You for being our first ‘Remarkable Resident’. We all wish you a happy 91st birthday.