ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our brother, teacher and friend Jay.
Aka 'Gravy Jay' and 'Jaybird' by his family, Jay Dampf was born on March 7, 1960 and passed away on July 12, 2020. Jay was a gentle soul. He was an artist, a teacher and a singer.  He loved and was loved. He celebrated life at every opportunity. He was special ... and we miss him.

                                                    PLEASE NOTE!                                                      
 With the help of Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre and in aid of their programme and students we are very proud to announce the

                JAY DAMPF MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND

This fund will help less advantaged students study at Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre and spread the good vibes and artistic opportunities that were what Jay was all about! (Somewhere or other he's floating around and glowing with pride, believe us!!)
Please check out the launch of Jay's Scholarship Fund by clicking the link below. Sign up for the school newsletter, consider making a donation and maybe plan a visit to      Jay's spiritual home in New Brunswick! 


                      https://sunburyshores.org/jay-dampf-memorial-schol...




Posted by Karen Kwong on August 8, 2020
I was totally shocked to hear about Jay's bad news although he did not look good when I had my last class with him in last December. He had been my art teacher in Cedar Ridge for 20 years and I enjoyed learning painting from him very much. I was always worried of not being able to get enrolled in his class for every registration. He was always very encouraging in parading our paintings when we finished them. His comments on our work were always so gentle, encouraging and courteous. He taught but not instruct. He was so gentle and humourous that I enjoyed and looked forward to coming to his class every week. He improved my painting skill and maintained my interest in painting all through these years. I am feeling so disheartened, discouraged and have lost confidence in painting now that he has gone. He would be dearly missed by all his students, including me. May his soul rest in Heaven with Our Lord.
Posted by Adele Steinberg on July 30, 2020
I was an art student of Jay's for over 20 years. He was always, kind, encouraging and made the class so much fun. We were a group of artists that continued year after year to sign up for his classes.
I look around my home and see all the paintings I created with his encouragement and help.
He will be missed by me and all the thousands of art students that he encouraged to love art and succeed.
Posted by Patricia Fontana on July 30, 2020

First and foremost my deepest condolences to Jay's family and his many students on this immeasurable loss.

Jay lived across the street from my piano teacher on Langbourne Place. We surmised we likely met as teenagers at one of her Messiah concerts. If not, it was September 1996 when I started art classes at Cedar Ridge. Despite living in the west end of the city, I made my weekly trek. We all loved Jay's classes. The atmosphere was relaxed and unstructured so students could work on their medium and project of choice. His classes were often lessons in nature. Jay knew every bird, mammal and insect. There was talk of travel, adventures, politics, movies- you name it. During our many rides to the subway, we shared precious one on one time.

Over the years, Jay inspired us to do our best. Whether it was scumbling, creating clouds and knowing how to balance lights and darks. When a project was finished, Jay would do a "walk around" to showcase the final product. Students came and went but there were several of us who took classes for years. Jay had a big following. I always thought how would I do artwork without Jay-now this time has unfortunately arrived.

In April, I received a text starting with "Hi Honey". I thought who is this! It was Jay checking to see how I was doing during COVID. He said his summer classes were cancelled but he was happy doing commission work at home. He even said he was starting to look like Santa! That was the last I heard from Jay.

I was privileged to know Jay for so many years. He was well loved and touched countless lives. To so many of us, he was like family,a beloved teacher and dear friend. He will be incredibly missed.


Posted by Jay Remer on July 30, 2020
Jay's friendship extends many years back as a close friend of our family. His talents as an artist, his many kindnesses as a dear friend, and his great sense of humor will always remain. I hope you rest in peace, dear man. With much love from us all. You are now with our dear Frankie and Mabel.
Posted by Asiya Khan on July 29, 2020
I was Jay's student at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre for the last five years. He was a great teacher and an amazing person. He helps me a lot not only as in painting but to grow as a person. He understands my shyness and slowly helps me comes out of my shell. I will truly miss him and it will be very difficult next time to go to Cedar Ridge and not seeing him there.
Posted by Shelley Schell on July 28, 2020
It's so hard to think of Haliburton School of Art + Design summer school without Jay. Like his sister Laura, I can't bring to mind exactly how long he's been part of our lives but I know it can be marked in decades as opposed to years. Decades of annual reunions with Jay became decades of annual reunions with his students as well - he had a strong and loyal following! It was always a delight to visit his classroom where long-time students worked away in comfortable silence or exchanged playful banter with each other and Jay. He brought so much to the school and to those of us who worked with him, learned from him, and enjoyed his company. I'll treasure memories of his presence, kindness, wisdom, and humour. I'm honoured to have had the opportunity to have two generations of Dampf's in my life, having also worked with Joe for many years. My heartfelt condolences to Jay's family and friends. You're in my heart.
Posted by Gary Stokes on July 26, 2020
May I sit? asks the teacher who is wearing a jaunty shirt and multi=coloured paint smears on his pants. Now explain to me how you see the problem. Here let me demonstrate on another sheet. OK Now see what you can do! Try loosening up a bit and get away from your painting now and again. I'll be back shortly. Jay is /was my teacher and friend. His phrases, his instructions, his insightful way of teaching art will always be present in future endeavors. I already miss him.
Posted by Heather Czarnota on July 26, 2020
We are so sorry for the whole family's loss. Matt and I enjoyed spending time with Jay at the cottage where there were many stories, walks in the woods, games and songs. It was so clear that Jay lived spending this time with his family. We remember dear Edna and how close the two of them were.
Sending love to all the family at this difficult time. May your wonderful memories bring you comfort. 
Heather, Matt, Ben & Claire Czarnota
Posted by Shannon Gordon on July 26, 2020
if we are lucky, once in a lifetime we meet someone that truly inspires us to be the best that we can be. For me, that was my art teacher, Jay Dampf.

He was undoubtedly the reason I got into a highly competitive Fine Arts Program in University and in the years that followed, because of his guidance my work evolved. He built confidence in my work and I was fortunate to exhibit work alongside his students. Though my career path moved to Graphic Design, I kept attending Jay’s classes for 20 years, following him around all over the city and even to Sunbury Shores on the coast of New Brunswick, where we got to paint from life.

He was unlike any art teacher I had ever met, and someone that I will always respect. He will always be remembered for his passion for art, kind gentle spirit and incredible stories.

I was devastated to hear of his passing yesterday.
I vow to keep on painting, with his memory being kept alive in each brushstroke.

To his students, may the memory of him live on in each and every painting. To his family and friends, deeply sorry for your loss, his legacy will live on
Posted by Laura Robbs on July 25, 2020
Jay’s younger sister Rosanne decided to head to Canada from Australia in July 2019, in part, to visit with our 91-year-old father. Jay’s sisters Rosanne and Laura decided that as part of Rosanne’s visit that they would take Jay’s painting course at Fleming College in Haliburton where Jay had taught for years and years (we cannot remember how long however our father Joe Dampf, also taught woodcarving at the school for years). We rented a small Air B & B just outside of Haliburton to where we returned exhausted after painting for 6-8 hours daily Monday to Friday. The area around Haliburton Ontario is so amazingly beautiful. 
Laura and Rosanne are so very happy to have participated in his painting course in Haliburton as we were able to see him in his element and at his absolute best and not as an annoying younger/older brother!! Not feeling like one has any interest (or talent – this is Laura talking), in painting, and entering a room where the most amazing female painters (just happened to be all ladies that week), was very intimidating (Laura speaking again).  We did not even know where to start but Jay, in his amazing teaching style, circulated through the room continuously, assisting all of us no matter how experienced or inexperienced, we were as painters. 

Laura remembers in particular feeling very insecure saying “I feel and paint like such an amateur” and Jay replied “of course, you are an amateur” which of course was true but at the same time his assessment took me by surprise!! By the end of the week, with the support of Jay and of all the other painters, we ended up with paintings that we have actually mounted on walls in our home/cottage. His sisters will treasure these memories not only among us “girls” but the time we spent with Jay. Rosanne and Laura are feeling heartbroken with the loss of our brother Jay. 
Posted by Dan Sernasie on July 25, 2020
Jay was my cousin and friend. I felt a particular connection as we were the same age and often gravitated and related to each other at family gatherings. I remember him for his gentle kind nature. Always positive. Always with a smile and a laugh. Like his father Joe, he impressed me with his artistic talents. I will cherish the memories of our last conversation we shared just a short while ago at the memorial for the passing of his father. We reminisced about family, life and art. Perhaps most of all, his sensitivity and insights to the people and world around him is what makes Jay so special. Rest in peace my friend.
Posted by Fran Schram on July 24, 2020
For over 15 years, all winter I have eagerly anticipated our July week spent painting with Jay at Sunbury Shores. In the earliest years, when we were just learning to paint, I remember gazing into Jays classroom in awe and admiration from the doorway as we went to our beginner class across the hall.  Jay graciously invited us in to view the ongoing art work and assured us quite adamantly that we too could paint wondrous things. Thanks to his calm positive encouragement and his assurance that it was possible, we graduated from across the hall and became dedicated students of Jays for the next 15 years plus.... I will truly miss his smiling face, his welcome hug, his tales of his adventures, his helpful instruction and his incredible talent. Sunbury Shores will never be the same without Jay.
Posted by Sarah MACLeod0 on July 24, 2020
I always looked up to him as an artist. He gave me so much advise regarding being an artist. Loved his work. And he had a wicked sense of humour. Always easy to talk to. Always interested in listening and being a good friend. New ideas was always welcomed by him. I will greatly miss Jay.
Posted by Marielle Stowe on July 24, 2020
I attended Jay's classes at Cedar Ridge for at least 10 years, Cedar Ridge will never be the same without Jay. We shared some personal memories with him, he had a nice celebration after my husband passed away, although my husband was not one of his students but they both enjoyed each other's company. He played the harp for us a few times, he was a wonderful signer and he made us laugh. A very warm lovely person. We will never forget him.
Posted by Margaret Chown on July 23, 2020
My sincere condolences to Jay's family and friends. I knew Jay as a fellow instructor at Cedar Ridge. He was passionate about his art and teaching, an inspiration to all. He will be missed.
Posted by Susan Cairns on July 23, 2020
First I would like to offer my condolences to the Dampf family. Jay was a special person in so many ways. I have spent the past 15+years attending Jay’s class at Sunbury Shores and have so appreciated his wit, expertise, rambling stories and dedication to his art.. When I look at the paintings that “Jay and I” did in class , that hang in my home, I feel so lucky to have known him and appreciate what a fine man he was.
Posted by Roxane Bruce on July 23, 2020
Jay was a very special person to me. He was my teacher and my friend. He inspired me and encouraged me to be the best artist I could be. He saw what I often failed to see. I am going to miss him so much but feel very grateful for the many years he has been my teacher and friend. This poem by Mary Oliver expresses what Jay taught me and how I will always see and remember him.

Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
  What a task
   to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
  and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
  above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese winging it
  faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never
seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.
Posted by Donald Purvis on July 23, 2020
We first met Jay while he was working on a mural for a downtown Toronto bar.  Upon learning that Jay taught art courses in Saint Andrews NB we signed up and have been taking courses at Sunbury Shores for nearly 20 years. Jay was a good and natural teacher who could bring out the best in his student's abilities. It was such a pleasure to be in Jay's classes and he will be so sadly missed. Thank you Jay Dampf
Posted by Denise Gracias on July 23, 2020
I have known Jay since 2005. I still remember the first time I walked into his classroom at Cedar Ridge, new to painting and intimidated by the depth of talent displayed by the other students. He immediately came to me and said "These students have been with me for years....don't be intimidated by them." Since that day, he has been instrumental in making my artistic dreams a reality. I appreciated his patience in teaching me as beginner....working on a variety of mediums and subjects.. I don't think there was anything he could not teach me. Yet, he also gave me the space to try new things.  I most appreciate his openness and enthusiasm in helping me bring Biblical scenes to life. His sense of humor and honesty about issues, even if I did not agree, only made the classes more enjoyable.

I cannot even begin to say how shocked and sad I am that he will no longer be with me on my journey. I would like to let his family know that he was well loved and appreciated by this student. I am so glad that I told him several times over the years and always shared with him the artistic milestones in my life. 

May God bless his soul and may he rest in eternal peace.

Posted by Nedda Zaharelos on July 23, 2020
I’m feeling so sad and shocked. Jay and I didn’t always agree in concepts but I respected Him and His work. Jay was a keystone for Cedar Ridge. What a great loss! He will be truly missed. My heart goes out to the family during this difficult time.
Posted by Alison Galley on July 22, 2020
I feel very fortunate to have had Jay as my painting instructor for the past 3 years at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre. He was devoted to teaching, and constantly milled about the studio offering valuable advice, sharing endless painting techniques, praising his students’ completed works and proudly parading them for classmates to see. I never tired of Jay’s stories, no matter how many times he repeated them and loved the passion and unique brand of humour that permeated all his ideas and opinions about art, music and life. Despite his struggles with his health in recent years, Jay was always a lively presence in the studio and took delight in the seasonal changes and wonders of nature that surround Cedar Ridge. He delighted in describing ghostly sounds and sightings that occurred within its walls over the years. Jay obviously believed in the spiritual world and his legacy and spirit will continue to be felt at Cedar Ridge by many of us. He will be sadly missed.
Posted by Salem Alaton on July 22, 2020
I knew of Jay's many creative skills and saw some of his wonderful work but what I most experienced face to face in our handful of meetings over many years was his wry, insightful humour. He was able to tease his family and himself in a good-spirited, light but also incisive way. So sorry for the Dampf family and for big brother Mike, a dear friend to whom I'm always indebted. Too soon, of course, too soon. Thinking of you all.
Posted by Ted Hamer on July 22, 2020
As often the case when someone passes you wish you had known them better. I taught classes alongside Jay and often we would share a few short words between classes or on the Cedar Ridge grounds.
I can attest that Jay had a very dedicated following, he will live on through his own creations as well as in the art that he has inspired by his students.
My condolences to his family and friends.
Posted by Mary Casement on July 22, 2020
When I think of Jay these are the words that come to mind: sensitive, caring, tender, thoughtful, wildly creative, generous, funny with a great sense of humour and quick to laugh, perceptive, intuitive, sincere, a true and honest faithful friend. He had an amazing gift for teaching in the most supportive and encouraging casual style that challenged students and brought out the best in them. He was in his glory at a dinner table regaling friends with his hysterically funny anecdotes complete with sound effects and gestures. He loved routine and structure and enjoyed a calm and organized lifestyle especially in St Andrews which he considered his home away from home.

There are so many memories of zany dinner parties, quiet relaxed evenings sitting in quiet conversation on the deck, long chats, fun shopping trips to Marden’s and many, many more wonderful moments of just simple honest friendship and mutual love and respect. He was and always will be a hugely important figure in my life. He loved St. Andrews and St. Andrews loved him. I miss him terribly.
Posted by Mike Williams on July 22, 2020
On behalf of the City of Toronto and his work colleagues, current and former, as well as his many students at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, I would like to express our sympathies to the family and friends of Jay. He was a beloved, talented artist, painter and arts educator, who built up over his twenty years of teaching at Cedar Ridge, a huge dedicated following of painting students. Thank you Jay for your commitment to the arts in Toronto!
Mike Williams, City of Toronto
Posted by Susan Dodds on July 22, 2020
Taking courses from Jay at Sunbury Shores was the highlight of my summer for several years. In that week, he created a community that painted, laughed and supported each other. He encouraged us to challenge ourselves and gently suggested that I try painting something other than lighthouses! When I painted a seascape and pointed out that there was no lighthouse, he ,laughingly said, “ well there is some progress!” My daughter joined me a couple of summers and Jay welcomed her and helped her boost her confidence-much needed at the time. We both have paintings that were made better because of his input and both feel privileged to have known Jay . He made each of us feel special and valued. We will miss him and send our thoughts to family and friends. Susan

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Karen Kwong on August 8, 2020
I was totally shocked to hear about Jay's bad news although he did not look good when I had my last class with him in last December. He had been my art teacher in Cedar Ridge for 20 years and I enjoyed learning painting from him very much. I was always worried of not being able to get enrolled in his class for every registration. He was always very encouraging in parading our paintings when we finished them. His comments on our work were always so gentle, encouraging and courteous. He taught but not instruct. He was so gentle and humourous that I enjoyed and looked forward to coming to his class every week. He improved my painting skill and maintained my interest in painting all through these years. I am feeling so disheartened, discouraged and have lost confidence in painting now that he has gone. He would be dearly missed by all his students, including me. May his soul rest in Heaven with Our Lord.
Posted by Adele Steinberg on July 30, 2020
I was an art student of Jay's for over 20 years. He was always, kind, encouraging and made the class so much fun. We were a group of artists that continued year after year to sign up for his classes.
I look around my home and see all the paintings I created with his encouragement and help.
He will be missed by me and all the thousands of art students that he encouraged to love art and succeed.
Posted by Patricia Fontana on July 30, 2020

First and foremost my deepest condolences to Jay's family and his many students on this immeasurable loss.

Jay lived across the street from my piano teacher on Langbourne Place. We surmised we likely met as teenagers at one of her Messiah concerts. If not, it was September 1996 when I started art classes at Cedar Ridge. Despite living in the west end of the city, I made my weekly trek. We all loved Jay's classes. The atmosphere was relaxed and unstructured so students could work on their medium and project of choice. His classes were often lessons in nature. Jay knew every bird, mammal and insect. There was talk of travel, adventures, politics, movies- you name it. During our many rides to the subway, we shared precious one on one time.

Over the years, Jay inspired us to do our best. Whether it was scumbling, creating clouds and knowing how to balance lights and darks. When a project was finished, Jay would do a "walk around" to showcase the final product. Students came and went but there were several of us who took classes for years. Jay had a big following. I always thought how would I do artwork without Jay-now this time has unfortunately arrived.

In April, I received a text starting with "Hi Honey". I thought who is this! It was Jay checking to see how I was doing during COVID. He said his summer classes were cancelled but he was happy doing commission work at home. He even said he was starting to look like Santa! That was the last I heard from Jay.

I was privileged to know Jay for so many years. He was well loved and touched countless lives. To so many of us, he was like family,a beloved teacher and dear friend. He will be incredibly missed.


his Life

Gregory 'Jay' Dampf: March 7, 1960 to July 12, 2020

Jay was a kind soul with a gentle sense of humour. A talented artist and art teacher for over four decades who brought out the best in his students across Canada.

He had an amazing gift for teaching art in a highly supportive, encouraging and casual style that challenged his students and brought out the best in them. He had an ability to create an atmosphere of infectious enthusiasm and relaxed, constructive learning full of painterly intent. He made anyone and everyone feel like an artist - art was a privilege he felt anyone could be taught to explore, create and enjoy. From his many students he fostered many classroom-sized creative societies that flourished for decades. Jay's classes attracted both the curious beginner and the experienced artist and they all ended up as his friends. His classes were renowned for the students returning year after year and decade after decade.

He is remembered for his love of family, his 'whooping' laugh and his gentle soul, his love for his art students and old, classic movies. He loved St Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick, its people and the art school, Sunbury Shores Art and Nature Centre. Every summer he taught at and enjoyed Fleming College in Haliburton as well as at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre in Toronto. He was loyal, funny, self-deprecating, generous, social, fun-loving and full of boyish enthusiasm. He retained many traditional hands-on skills and crafts and became increasingly frustrated by the impersonal and high-tech digital world. He loved routine and structure and preferred a calm, organised lifestyle.

His reputation earned him the 'Award of Teaching Excellence' from the Toronto Board of Education. His art has won many awards in Canada and the U.S.and his work hangs on walls across North America. He decorated and painted several of Mel Lastman's moose! His artistic interests were as wide and varied as his education and life experience. From training with artist Glen Loates to his early jobs at the Keg (where he earned the moniker 'Super Fly' until he got too close to the flames and received 2nd degree burns!) to the prestigious, specialized art program at Central Tech in Toronto as well as George Brown College's Fine and Commercial Arts program. 

Jay's interest in wildlife started at a young age (answering the door with a bark; building a snake nest in the backyard woodpile and transporting the critters indoors for a 'bath';doing impersonations of deer in the forest across the river from the cottage; carrying and using a bird whistle for years.) It seemed he knew every bird and animal. Wildlife, art and archaeology sparked his travels through Africa, South America, the Galapagos and Europe.

He had a beautiful baritone voice and sang with a choir for many years. He played a lovely harp, percussion and the black keys of the piano (the white ones weren't necessary.) He created many murals in Toronto's Gay Village (notably at the Black Eagle Leather Bar.)

Jay is mourned by his brothers and sisters, his communities, his friends and his many, many students. He was in his glory at the dinner table regaling family and friends with hysterically funny anecdotes and stories complete with sound effects and gestures. He moved through life as gently as he could. He showed his care and concern for others. He was special.

Jay was predeceased by his parents Joan and Joe. He leaves his siblings Mike, Laura, Rosanne and Jody as well as his sister-in-law Becky and brothers-in-law Jeff and Shane.His  nieces and nephews will truly miss and remember him as well: Jason, Eric, Trevor, Hana, Jack and Kate.



Recent stories

Adventure

Shared by Karen King on August 5, 2020
Jay was a wealth of Wildlife Knowledge.  As kids he taught us all of the Groups of species and I remember his favorite was a "Murder" of Ravens.  He taught his sister and I how to rub a Bull Frogs stomach and make it sing.  Most of my favorite adventures with Jay were at the Toronto Zoo where he would interact with many of the animals.  He would throw Snowballs to the Seals, Dandillions to the Baboons, and would lure the Marmosettes to the front of the cage with shiney objects.  Jay had us always wear green on Zoo days to imitate the Zookeepers clothing.  This really worked.  We had all the Animals attentions.  He liked fish as well and we would have to often search for his Newt in the house before it dried up.

I always loved Jay's Wildlife Art.  As a kid I remember much of Jay's art hanging on the Dampf Household walls.  Surprisingly to me, sometimes they would just disappear as Jay couldn't afford new canvases and would reuse them.  The Dampf house boasted handmade wallpaper in the basement and Jay and Rosy even made hand painted wrapping paper.  I was always in awe of Jay.

Jay and his sister Rosanne had wonderful imaginations.  Every trip with both of them was not an outing but an Adventure.  The both of them would make mazes in the basement so when I entered cushions would rain down on my head.  All of the Dampf's helped to make my childhood wonderful.

Sending heartfelt condolences to all the Dampf's, with a hug and a tear.


Regards to the Dampf family

Shared by Mary McDonald on July 26, 2020
OMG... I heard the devastatingly sad news this morning about Jay! 
As an adult, I had not taken any art lessons. Choosing Bloor & Yonge as a convenient location (8 minute subway ride), I ended up with Jay as my art instructor, 3 years ago. What a delightful surprise!
I remain grateful for the 2 hours, once every Monday,  of wonderful guidance from Jay. It was truly life-changing and eye-opening to sit at this ‘tip of the iceberg’ and watch Jay direct us all to calmer waters & deeper understanding of acrylic painting techniques.  It felt like contortions to sign up for the Seniors Sunshine Centre (in the united church) as it was geared to seniors but up to 4 non-seniors were allowed in. That was me. So fortunate to be the ‘token’ non-senior, to have Jay circling around the room with his dry comments. It was delightful to hear him laughing out loud when any of us moaned that we ‘were suffering for our art’. 
Jay will be sorely missed by all his students. We were all waiting for the pandemic to pass so that we could see him again. As students, we wer all stricken to hear of his medical issues on the east coast and subsequent operations back in Toronto. I can only hope that Jay did not become a Covid statistic. 

An Extended Childhood

Shared by Rosanne Dampf on July 26, 2020
Being close in age, Jay and I were often thrown together as kids and expected to entertain ourselves. We had unfettered access to an idiot box from about 6-10am Saturday mornings, but apart from those glorious moments, we were otherwise expected to play in the basement or outside and basically show up for meals.

It meant that we shared both a close group of neighbour friends as well as a special childhood bond. We were 'comrades in arms' against older siblings (who were too similar to parents) and, with the extra parent-free moments gained from having a younger autistic brother, we were able to extend our childhoods far beyond what's probably normal.

Jay and I had childhoods spent most days in each other's company. I reaped endless hours of fun from his rich ability to create imaginative games. The half hour walk to St Bonnies grade school along the railway tracks became hunting expeditions or we'd take the long way through neighbourhood streets picking everyone's front-yard flowers and have bouquet competitions before dumping them outside the gates. We'd created other 'worlds' with secret signals to indicate that one or other of us 'was entering that space' (and the other of course had to follow). We'd try and continue these games once we'd arrive at school, leaving notes for each other or, in one failed attempt to remain in contact, by each holding the end of a string regardless that our classes were 3 floors apart. As adults we often reminisced about our games – aware of the privilege a secure childhood rich in free time outdoors brings with it.

Most of our games were either animal focused or design related. I particularly loved the hours (if not days) of building either toboggan runs, forts, igloos or civilisations (Patti and Karen do you remember "The Sun Gods"?). Jay loved the animal adventures. One of my favourites was our slow patient building up over weeks of a large gardener snake nest in the wood pile. Then, when we were home alone one hot summer day bringing them all inside for a refreshing bath.The inevitable escape from the bathroom and lack of round-up afterwards causing an unfortunate backlash for some time (dead crusty snakes were found under furniture for years afterwards).

Jay had a Toronto Zoo membership. In our teens and early twenties even we'd go on the days when the weather was at its very worst in the hopes we'd be the only visitors. I've treasured memories of snowstorms, rekindled childhoods and warm humid zoo pavilions eating McDonalds cherry pies with my pal.