Thank you, Ken Weber
In the Hills bids a fond farewell to long-time contributor, Ken Weber, who penned 103 columns for our Historic Hills section.
Sometimes a small thing happens, and you don’t know it at the time, but something momentous has been set in motion.
That’s the way it was in 1996, when I called Ken Weber (or maybe he called me, neither of us can remember) with the suggestion that he write a piece on the origins of local place names. Within two issues, his seemingly endless supply of stories about our local history had evolved into a regular column.
This issue contains Ken’s 103rd Historic Hills column – and his last. After more than 25 years, Ken is capping his pen and heading for a well-deserved retirement.
Over that quarter-plus century, Historic Hills and Ken’s occasional feature-length contributions have helped define not only the character of this magazine, but the community as a whole. Filled with wit and insight, his stories have kept alive the fascinating, sometimes bizarre, and always very human stories of those who came here before us. If you are feeling the urge to revisit some of them, Ken published a book that included more than 40 of his columns in 2017. It’s available at the Museum of Dufferin.
Back in 1996, I didn’t know what a star our still very young magazine had added to its roster. Ken had recently retired from his career as a professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Child Study and faculty of education, where he had a special interest in kids with learning disabilities. In the course of his work, he discovered that kids absorbed information better when it was packaged as intriguing puzzles. From that, his Five Minute Mysteries series was born. The books have sold more than five million copies in 22 languages, and for a while they launched Ken on a second career under the aliases of Mystery Man and Professor Trivia on CBC radio and television. Eventually they became the basis for A Puzzling Conclusion, which has appeared on our last page since 2005. (Puzzle addicts, don’t panic, Ken will give you one last fix in our winter issue.)
For his many contributions to preserving local history in this magazine and elsewhere, Ken is the recipient of an Ontario Heritage Trust Award. And for his exemplary career as an educator and author, as well his contributions to community life, he was inducted into the Caledon Walk of Fame in 2016.
In advising of his departure, Ken wrote that of his retirement from three rewarding occupations over the years – teaching, speaking and writing – “stepping away from Historic Hills is the toughest. It has been an utterly pleasant trip.”
The feeling is entirely mutual, Ken. Your intelligence and humour will be sorely missed in our pages. In all the time we worked together, you had one writing quirk you couldn’t let go of – an abundance of exclamation points. As editor, I deleted most of them – but I will always deeply appreciate the irrepressible enthusiasm they signified!