The Story of a Lilac Tree
“It started with a lilac tree” reads the Toronto Star article published on May 8th, 1970, when the daycare first opened. The idea for the daycare originally came to the Martin Luther Church congregation under Pastor Eberhard W. Schwantes, with the mission to give the neighbourhood’s children a safe place to play. His son Michael Schwantes recalls that the idea came to his father as he was looking out the window from the church office. “It was because he saw the children playing in the parking lot, and they had nowhere to go” he explains, “he said … they needed a place to go.”
It would be a long year of work before the daycare could welcome the children of the Mimico neighbourhood – as the 1970 Toronto Star article puts it, “Then came operation elbow grease.” In May 1970, the building opened its doors to the community at large, and started to care for 26 neighbourhood children.
Before long the daycare grew to include a preschool, toddler and before and after school program, and even spread to the basement of the church at 2379 Lakeshore Boulevard West. Today, the organization has 56 children in its care (90 percent of whom are on subsidies), and there is just as much, if not more, need in the Mimico community for a fully functioning daycare.