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Don Wedge R.I.P.
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // September 16, 2010 // Absent Friends, Government & Governance, Media, Peter Trent, Westmount // Comments Off on Don Wedge R.I.P.
City, colleagues honour Don Wedge
What would have been the 80th birthday of well-known Westmount columnist and activist Don Wedge will be celebrated at a special event in Victoria Hall next Tuesday evening, Sept. 21.
The long-time Grosvenor Avenue resident, who passed away on July 20, is being remembered by family and friends in a two-hour, informal appreciation beginning at 5 p.m.
The Westmount Independent Extra Edition
In Memoriam: Don Wedge: Remembering Don Wedge (1930-2010)
Indie columnist driven by love for Westmount
Don Wedge loved Westmount. That’s what it all came down to.
Tireless volunteer, citizen watchdog, environmental activist and columnist, he
was driven by a passion for the community that was almost paternalistic. He could be blunt and chiding, but always caring and wanting Westmount to achieve only the best.
Sadly, his death July 20 has left the community without one of its strongest advocates for public consultation and transparency in municipal affairs. He was widely known through his participation at public meetings and his weekly Civic Alert column in the Independent.
David Price: Wedge was Westmount
Mayor Peter Trent:
“I knew Don over such a long time, from the late 1980s. He was an unofficial member of city council as far as I was concerned. He overcame his shyness and unilingualism and understood that as a citizen advocate he had to understand French.
“I remember the days he used to travel all the way out to Montreal East by public transit to attend BAPE (Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement) hearings and then go up to TMR for waste management meetings.
“He did so, so that his views would be taken seriously. He always did his homework and was infallibly polite.
“Where he’s gone, there will be no smog, no undulating sidewalks, everybody composts, rides public transport, and no celestial cities will be merged.
I’ll miss his gruff voice and solid advice.”
The Gazette: Westmount’s ‘civic conscience’ dies at 79
Don and Sylvia Wedge were waiting for a train while vacationing in Italy, more than 40 years ago, when Don decided to buy a copy of the local paper.
“You don’t speak Italian,” Sylvia said.
But that didn’t matter to her husband. For Don, understanding a word here or there and looking at photos were enough.
“He wanted to get a feel for the community,” said Sylvia, who was married to Don for 45 years.
Engaging in the community was something Don Wedge did all his life.
Wedge, who died Tuesday at age 79, was a columnist for the Westmount Examiner, and later for the Westmount Independent, for the past 20 years. He had a passion for municipal affairs and was always actively engaged in his community of Westmount.
“He would follow everything in Montreal,” Sylvia said in a telephone interview. “He went to council meetings. He went to the West Island. He went to the South Shore.”
Wedge was known in the suburb for his dogged reporting and his attention to detail in everything he wrote.
“Don Wedge was the ultimate civic conscience,” Gazette columnist Henry Aubin said.
“He shone a journalistic spotlight on municipal and environmental issues that often were under the radar of large media.”
Wedge’s death “leaves a big hole in community affairs,” Aubin added.
Westmount Mayor Peter Trent, who also served in the municipality’s top post from 1991 to 2001, recalled Wedge as a “fixture on the city scene.”
“I’ve never seen such dedication,” Trent said. “Every column was a gem.”
He described Wedge as apolitical, saying he embodied a “fantastic combination of pragmatism and idealism.”
“He was very rational,” Trent said. “He always focused on what was right, what was logical. He was one of a kind.”
Wedge was born and raised in Britain but called the Montreal area home for the last 25 years of his life.
“He loved the food in Montreal,” his wife said. Their favourite spot was downtown French restaurant Le Paris.
Music, especially jazz, was another passion. In his 20s, Wedge was the news editor for the New Musical Express, a popular British music magazine. He later worked for PolyGram Records.
Jazz remained with him until his last days. When Wedge was hospitalized at the end of his life, his wife brought him a CD player and a little bit of home.
“We brought him Stan Kenton, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington,” she said.
Wedge is survived by his wife, Sylvia, his daughters, Roberta and Joanna, and his grandchildren, Sebastian and Sophie.