Obituary

After a wonderful and full life Jon Harstone passed away on January 1st, 2022 in Toronto at the age of 71.  Jon is one of three children born to Jack and Carla Harstone and predeceases his three siblings Joyce, Alex, and Greg. In 1969 Jon moved to Toronto to attend University where he met his first wife, Penelope Winter with whom they share four loving children Colin, Suzanne, Neil, and Rachel who will miss him dearly.  Toronto is also the city where he met Deborah Aaron his second love who for most of the last two decades of his life shared his love of cycling, traveling, and food.

Jon spent his entire life working and advocating for affordable access to housing for those who needed it.  In his early career he worked at the Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto and was a founding member of Homestarts, where he was involved in the development of 29 housing co-ops in and around Toronto.  In 1992 he started working at Colandco Co-operative Housing Land Trust which owned the lands that 13 housing co-ops were situated on. In 1999 he founded St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society, which by the end of his career had built or renovated over 400 affordable units in Toronto.

In his spare time, Jon delved into historical research of many places around the world, including that of his home city, Toronto. He volunteered for the Heritage Toronto Board for five years, and would go on to curate historic walks of his beloved Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood for twenty years.  His knowledge of this area is captured in his book titled “Between the Bridge and the Brewery”, which can be found at the Toronto Reference Library.

Jon has left behind so many that will miss him, but his family and friends take pride in having known such a remarkable individual who has impacted innumerable lives through his work and his passions.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society.

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/st-clares-multifaith-housing-society/

   

Visitation

Memo

Due to the current pandemic restrictions and direction from our regulator, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario, effective January 5, 2022 all funerals and visitations will be by invitation only to limit the number of people in attendance and prevent the spread of COVID-19. We encourage those that are unable to attend in person to express their sympathy by posting a message of condolence to our website, donating to a charity in memory or by sending flowers to the funeral home.

Service

Burial / Entombment / Cremation

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January 14, 2022
Theo
I learned so much from Jon Harstone in such a short time. His wisdom and passion will be missed. My condolences to his family and close friends.
January 08, 2022
Paul Chamberlain
Jon always had strong, well thought out opinions that he enjoyed sharing to engage his many colleagues like me. He and I shared a love of cycling and, as I only discovered today, a love of Dylan. My condolences to his family and close friends.
January 07, 2022
Alexandra Mutinelli-Djukic
Jon - you were my friend, my confidante, my mentor, my co-conspirator, and at one point my manager. I will miss you. I already miss you. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
January 07, 2022
Deirdre Gibson
To the Harstone family- I am vert saddened to learn of Jon's death. I knew him for over 30 years as we both worked in the field of development of social housing. His smile & twinkle in his eye was a signal that he was thinking up some new approach to raise with potential funders. He especially like to cofound housing bureaucrats. He will be sorrily missed.
January 07, 2022
Debbie Tkaczuk
I remember looking at Jon at times with bewilderment in my eyes. His mind processed unique housing financing in a way that I have never seen anyone else. My deepest sympathy on the loss of your father, husband and friends. Jon was like no other.
January 06, 2022
Donna Charbonneau
My deepest condolences to Jon’s family. He and the contributions to the coop housing sector will be greatly missed.
January 06, 2022
Hanita Braun
Heartfelt condolences to Jon’s family. I knew Jon since our Toronto Co-op Housing Federation days. I worked with him and cooperated with him on large affordable housing developments. He will be missed.
January 05, 2022
Pascal Murphy
This is an unexpected loss that I have no doubt will echo throughout the housing community. For more than forty years Jon assisted non-profit groups develop affordable and supportive housing. His first project was a grassroots initiative with Dufferin Grove Housing Co-op in 1974. Subsequently Jon worked with the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto and in 1978 was one of the founding members of Homestarts. From 1999 to 2019 Jon was the Executive Director of St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society and the President of Ganesh Community Development Co-op. In addition to managing the development of St. Clare’s 437 units (at that time), throughout his career Jon assisted in the development of 53 housing projects that have provided 3,515 units of affordable and supportive housing in buildings ranging in size from 8 to 190 units. It is safe to say that Jon could have done very well for himself in the private sector. However, it was Jon's vision of a society that guided all his actions. Perhaps this can be articulated as such, that no matter what a person's life experience or socio-economic position, they are an important part of our community and they have the right to be adequately provided for. This vision was materialized by Jon in all his work in order to ensure that all people, especially the most vulnerable, have a fundamental right to housing. Not only a right, but a right that we can and must fulfill! In planning meetings at St. Clare’s and in the broader sector we often use this term “units” when talking about housing, but what we are actually talking about is people’s lives. Perhaps we use this term because to truly understand the impact Jon had on each of 3,515 individuals /families would be incredibly difficult. That said, something being “difficult” did not seem to stop Jon. We all greatly appreciate Jon and what he has done to build, quite literally, community! We will always be proud of Jon and his work. Jon, you were an extraordinary person and will be greatly missed! Peace, Pascal Murphy Friend of Jon Harstone, and President of the Board, St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society
January 04, 2022
Sean Gadon
Jon and I worked together for more than three decades and I am honoured to have known him as a dear friend. He cared deeply about improving the lives of people through advancing and creating affordable and supportive housing in Canada. My deepest condolences to family and friends in his untimely passing.
January 04, 2022
Sean Gadon
Jon and I worked together for more than three decades and I am honoured to have known him as a dear friend. He cared deeply about improving the lives of people through advancing and creating affordable and supportive housing in Canada. My deepest condolences to family and friends in his untimely passing. His legacy will live on in the mentorship and support he provided to so many.
January 04, 2022
Sean Gadon
Jon and I worked together for more than three decades and I am honoured to have known him as a dear friend. He cared deeply about improving the lives of people through advancing and creating affordable and supportive housing in Canada. My deepest condolences to family and friends in his untimely passing. May it provide some comfort to know that he was held in high regard by many and his legacy will live on in the housing work of so many others.
January 04, 2022
Sean Gadon
Jon and I worked together for more than three decades and I am honoured to have known him as a dear friend. He cared deeply about improving the lives of people through advancing and creating affordable and supportive housing in Canada. My deepest condolences to family and friends in his untimely passing. May it provide some comfort to know that he was held in high regard by many and his legacy will live in the homes he created and in the housing work of so many others.
January 04, 2022
Janet and Rick
Dearest Deb, Neil, Colin, Suzanne, Rachel and all the Harstone family, We send our deepest sympathy on the passing of our dear friend and neighbour, Jon. Our community will not be the same without his knowledge, wisdom and wit.  We will miss his leadership as President of our condo and his friendship  highlighted by lively impromptu conversations.  We often met spontaneously outside either on the patio or from a recent bike ride or walk. He was truly an inspiration and we often told him so. He always had that contagious "joie de vivre" and great smile which we will forever remember and gain strength from. We will miss you Jon, but your memory will live on forever in us and those who you touched so positively. Janet and Rick.