Dave Rawson signed up to care for a tired looking traffic circle and his Grand Boulevard area street has never been the same.
“I affectionately call this cool dude Bruce the Moose, with a very important message: Be cool. Don’t drink and drive,” says Rawson.
He’s referring to an antlered fellow sporting sunglasses and a Santa hat he fashioned out of wood and added to the roundabout last Christmas. Rawson is in the habit of dressing up the neighbourhood traffic circle at Moody Avenue and 16th Street to suit the occasion. For example, on Valentine’s Day he hung red hearts in the trees.
It’s been a labour of love for Rawson, who first became steward of the circle 10 years ago.
“In the beginning there was a lot of work to do to bring it back to a usable plantable garden,” explains 74-year-old Rawson of his retirement project.
Wild grass had invaded the entire circle and for the first four years Rawson was constantly digging it up.
New top soil was added giving Rawson a raw canvas to work with.
“Little by little, year after year, we planted different flowers,” he says.
Some of the money to spruce up the circle comes out of his own pocket, while the city also chips in.
“This year the city donated zinnias and alyssum and I bought some purple alyssum, lobelia and dahlias,” says Rawson.
A friendship has grown as well. For a long time, Rawson tended to the traffic circle by himself, hauling a hose across the street to water the plants. Then he talked Gord Smith, who lives a few houses down, into helping him.
Most days the two of them can been found weeding and watering over at the circle, while neighbours stop by to say hi or honk as they drive by as a show of appreciation for the generous gents.
“You know the thing is, the neighbourhood here, it’s a really nice neighbourhood. We know most of the people here,” says Rawson, who has lived in the area for 35 years.
Rawson and Smith spent three months making Canada Day decorations from scratch. They put in a lot of effort to show their patriotism.
Four birthday cake-shaped signs with candles placed atop were each painstakingly carved out of wood, by doweling and using a scroll saw. Four times over. For each one of the posts in the circle.
“It’s rewarding, you know,” says Rawson of the time and effort spent beautifying his neighbourhood.
Bright-coloured bird houses, fashioned by the two friends, of course, are a new addition to trees in the traffic circle this summer.
“The young kids love them,” says Rawson. “Next year I want to move them up higher into the tree to hopefully attract some tenants.”
All that work and still Rawson wishes he had more space to decorate.
“This is quite a small circle, compared to what the other ones are like. I kind of wish we had a larger one,” he says with a laugh.