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Home and Community

The co-op members now had houses and a place to call home. They had built a community that valued sharing and friendship. Of course, the community was not without flaws. Families experienced the same challenges and difficulties that any family might. Yet the core values of sharing and friendship endured.

Black and white photograph of some people at a housing construction site

Neighbourhood dads gather as children play in the glorious red mud, soon after moving in, July of 1956.

The co-op movement not only helped the Grimsby members develop the necessary skills to build their homes, but it helped them develop the skills to be strong and passionate community leaders. Despite Grimsby’s initial opposition to their arrival, many of the men and women became notable members of the town. As Father O’Brien remarked many years later, “We weren’t just building houses, we were building people, and when that hit us, we were jumping up and down with joy.”

The members who were parishioners of St. Joseph’s Church contributed to a new church building and the town’s first Catholic school. A principal of the nearby elementary school noted that the co-op children had a great sense of sharing and community. Some co-op members became strong leaders in religious organizations of various denominations. Others worked quietly and persistently in the service of others.

Colour photograph of a man in a suit wearing glasses

Jim Denvir, Citizen of the Year in 1986.

Jim Denvir was presented with the 1986 Citizen of the Year Award by the Chamber of Commerce. He and others in the co-op reached out to the community with a Christmas hamper program. They joined Mike Barretto, a close neighbour and friend of the co-op families, when he initiated a coordinated effort by church and community groups. This collaboration laid the groundwork for the Grimsby Benevolent Fund.  Today, its hundreds of volunteers continue to make a difference to those in need in the Grimsby area.

Newspaper article about two men running for Alderman Title

The co-op builders became involved in all aspects of community life, including serving on the Town Council and school boards.


Some co-op members also joined the Town Council, taking on roles such as alderman and reeve for the Town of Grimsby. These co-op politicians worked hard to improve life in Grimsby. One project involved protecting the local shoreline. They felt just as committed to building the community as they had to constructing their homes.

Black and white photograph of a memorial plaque titled

The Murray Street Park Shoreline Protection Project, initiated by Alderman Walter Muise was acknowledged with this plaque in 1997.

Colour picture of a person sitting on a stone beach

A view of the Grimsby shoreline in 2016 that was protected on the advice of Alderman Walter Muise.

Sod turning ceremony in January 1954 – John Blake FootageWatch the video with the transcription (EN).

Dorothy Forbes – Neighbourly  help right from the beginning (subtitles available in FR and EN).  Watch the video with the transcription (EN).

Avryle Wilson – People of the Co-op (subtitles available in FR and EN).  Watch the video with the transcription (EN).