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Mary Louise's passion for heritage

by Joy Cohnstaedt, Member, Etobicoke Historical Society;

Member at Large, Heritage York Board; and previous recipient

of the Jean Hibbert Award; and Cherri Hurst, Weston Historical Society and Conservation District President and Archivist.


At its May 20th, 2021, Annual General Meeting, the Etobicoke Historical Society presented Marie Louise Ashbourne with the 2021 Jean Hibbert Memorial Award.
Mary Louise Ashbourne’s
passion for heritage and ancient maps is rooted in Weston, where she was born, married, and raised seven children with her husband Howard. Howard collects and exhibits artefacts, while Mary Louise shares her enthusiasm for local history and all aspects of community preservation with everyone.

Mary Louise holds an Honours degree in Modern History from the University of Toronto. She is a founding member (1976) and was President of the Weston Historical Society for over ten years. She is now the Past President. An early heritage advocate, she was among the first to be appointed to the York L.A.C.A.C. in 1977.  She is also a founding member (1991) and Vice President of Heritage York.  As Chair of the Humber Heritage Committee, she was appointed a representative to the TRCA Humber Watershed Task Force (1995).  Mary Louise was a longstanding volunteer member of the Humber Watershed Alliance, which was established in 1997. 

Former Chair and member of the Etobicoke York Community Preservation Panel and member of the Toronto Preservation Board, Mary Louise is an advocate for the Weston Heritage Conservation District and, since 2019, a member of the Community Advisory Committee for WHCD.  The Weston Rotary Club has awarded her the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Paul Harris Award for her work in preserving and educating local history.

Mary Louise’s community service in support of heritage is wide-ranging: advocacy, articles, brochures, displays, publications, exhibitions, heritage walks, heritage talks, and more.  With an eye for fact-checking, Mary Louise has brought her skills as a researcher to all her heritage contributions.  She works in partnership - educating and mentoring others to encourage public interest in heritage. No task is too small.  When volunteers were needed to help clean and restore Lambton House into a habitable space, Mary Louise was hands-on.  Heritage York’s Pub Nights have featured her now-famous home-cooked roast beef sandwiches.  The Annual Montgomery’s Inn Corn Roast & Heritage Fair is always on her calendar.

Over many years, Mary Louise has put her passion for Weston and heritage into action.  She and Marjorie Mossman led nature walks on different parts of the Humber River with the Toronto Naturalists Society. In partnership with Cherri Hurst, they gave talks on Hurricane Hazel and numerous History of Weston presentations, including “Weston Structures before 1867 That Are Still With Us”, “The Homefront From WWI”, etc., and about eight walking tours.  Among some of her other involvements, Mary Louise has participated in the creation and writing of:

  • The Crawford-Jones Memorial Park (City of Toronto Park),

  • Weston Memorial School’s 100th anniversary celebrations,

  • “A Brief History of Weston”,

  • “Etobicoke York Pre-Confederation Architectural Treasures: Surviving Buildings, Cemeteries and Structures”,

  • “Crossing the Humber: The Humber River Heritage Bridge Inventory”,

  • “City of York: A Local History”,

  • “Through the Lens of Geraldine Moodie”, an exhibition at Lambton House,

  • Dedication of the Humber River as an Urban Heritage River, and 

  • Designation of numerous Weston, York and Etobicoke buildings, and much more.

Please join us in congratulating Mary Louise Ashbourne on being this year’s recipient of the Etobicoke Historical Society’s 2021 Jean Hibbert Award.

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Mary Louise Ashbourne
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