Joan Weston has been named the 2021 Tillsonburg Citizen of the Year and will be presented her award on Nov. 9.
“The award is presented to an individual who makes an outstanding contribution to the Town of Tillsonburg, with no expectation of personal gain,” said Collette Takacs, chair of the town’s Cultural, Heritage and Special Awards Advisory Committee in a media release.
“Joan has been a tireless volunteer with many organizations in Tillsonburg over the years,” said Mayor Stephen Molnar. “She brings passion and energy to every project she takes on.”
Weston is perhaps best known for her efforts over the years to preserve and protect Lake Lisgar. As a volunteer grant writer with the Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project, Weston secured $200,000 in grants for a variety of ecosystem enhancing projects.
“I had never done anything like that before and I was terrified,” said Weston. “I wrote nine applications. We were approved for eight and shortlisted for the ninth.”
An educator by profession, Weston spent 40 years teaching English and drama for Waterloo Region District School Board before retiring in 2015.
Since retirement, she has been active with the Tillsonburg District Historical Society, the Museum Advisory Committee, the Annandale House Fundraising Committee and the Tillsonburg Pioneers.
“Joan’s love of local history has led her to assist with all kinds of heritage projects – from giving tours to coordinating Music on the Lawn (2019), to conducting research on Tillsonburg’s railways,” said Patricia Phelps, Manager of Culture & Heritage/Curator at Annandale National Historic Site.
“I really love giving tours at the museum,” said Weston. “People ask the most interesting questions.”
Weston has also volunteered 11 years with the Multi-Service Centre’s adult basic literacy program.
“It’s so rewarding because the students really want to learn – something that wasn’t always the case when I was teaching high school,” she laughed.
Weston’s other community involvements include the Tillsonburg Fair board, Turtlefest and Theatre Tillsonburg. She currently serves on the Tillsonburg 150 subcommittee, and is a member of the Memorial Park Revitalization Project Advisory Committee.
Each year, the Town of Tillsonburg’s Cultural, Heritage and Special Awards Advisory Committee receives nominations for Citizen of the Year, giving consideration to the length and impact of service; the uniqueness of the nominee’s efforts; and the extent to which the nominee supports and involves other people.