Verna Stainthorp has lived in Spruce Avenue since 1967, and since then, she has become a strong presence in the community and on Spruce Avenue Community League’s board. 

Stainthorp got involved with the community league in the early ‘70s. She stepped away from the league for a time when her fourth child was born in 1985, and became involved again in 1994, officially joining the board as treasurer. 

“At that time, the league had gone through a couple of embezzlements and… basically the league was nonexistent,” says Stainthorp. “A couple of the ladies in the neighbourhood got it going again and asked if I would become re-involved as the treasurer. I wanted to do this and see the league active again.” 

Stainthorp has occupied the treasurer position ever since, while also filling in for various other vacant positions. 

“It was a position that nobody else ever wanted,” she says with a laugh. “But I didn’t mind… I enjoy being in that position.” At one point, Stainthorp was the treasurer for three organizations at the same time — Spruce Avenue School’s parent council, Spruce Ave Community League, and her son’s hockey organization — a considerable volunteer commitment. “It was just the way it was,” says Stainthorp simply. 

Volunteering was never something that Stainthorp thought twice about. It was how she was brought up, to give back and help others. 

“I grew up on a farm and they were very involved with the church, and my mom with the Ladies’ Aid,” says Stainthorp. “[Volunteering] just sort of came naturally to me, to want to be involved, to help each other out, and make a community strong.”

Her goals while on Spruce Avenue’s board have been about involving the community and encouraging development. “I’ve always embraced ongoing development and also [prioritized] ensuring that whatever infrastructure we have or that we develop continues to be maintained,” says Stainthorp. “My goal is to provide something that’s going to be sustainable.” 

Stainthorp has stayed on at the league through the rebuilding of the league’s finances and countless other projects. She was involved in Spruce Ave’s building extension in 1999; in establishing casinos and bingos as a source of income for both the league and the community school; and updating the rink to include dressing rooms, players’ benches, and new lights. She was also involved in retrofitting the community hall to be wheelchair accessible; redeveloping the playground and spray park; helping convert 115 Avenue from 102 Street to 103 Street back to parkland; and much, much more.

Stainthorp has volunteered countless hours for the league over the years, and her love for the community and the league is evident. “You know, I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I really wouldn’t,” she says. 

“In the early ‘80s, we had definitely outgrown our home, you know [with] three girls and a very tiny house… so we looked in different areas, and always came back [to Spruce Avenue],” adds Stainthorp. “And I’m so glad, so happy we did.”

She says what makes the community so unique is knowing the neighbours; meeting community members at league events; strolling through the community and seeing the mature trees; accessing the LRT and Kingsway Mall easily; and quickly travelling downtown. 

Stainthorp has worked tirelessly in the community to contribute to its vibrancy and success, and it shows. 

“[Spruce Avenue] has just really blossomed,” says Stainthorp. “There are so many benefits of living in the neighbourhood that I just wouldn’t live anyplace else.”