Building 25 years of friendship and community in Baden’s Foxboro Green

Firm Foxboro friends Margaret Lewis-Macdonald, Jim Arbuckle and Joan Roberts outside the condo community’s recreation centre.

Over the past 25 years, Foxboro Green’s residents have built lasting friendships and a solid, caring community. This September, the Baden complex of 215 houses will host a ceremony to celebrate a quarter-century since the arrival of its first homeowner.

Visionary builder Bob Barnhart had the idea of creating one of the province’s earliest adult lifestyle communities in 1991. In the 2015 book, “The Birth of Foxboro Green”, he recalled how he chose the name.

“I was watching a New England Patriots NFL game, and the announcer said, ‘Coming to you from Foxboro, Massachusetts.’ I liked the sound of ‘Foxboro’, and right away I knew that was it. We then needed a descriptive word to go along with it, and what could be more fitting than ‘Green’, with all the natural green to be found on the Foxboro grounds?”

The first resident moved in in 1995, and construction of the final house was completed in 2002.

Joan Roberts was one of the early arrivals. Originally from Colwyn Bay in Wales, she and her late husband Phil immigrated in 1954, and she found work as a telephone operator. In 1996, the retired couple left Port Erie for Foxboro Green, which was being developed by their son-in-law.

“When we first moved here, there were only a few houses built. It was quite exciting, and you’d see all the other buildings going up. Everybody knew everybody else.”

The relationships she’s developed over the years are one of the reasons why she still loves living in Foxboro Green.

Roberts’ friends and neighbours include former Montreal General Hospital head nurse Margaret Lewis-Macdonald and her husband Graham. The couple joined the community in 1997.

They moved from Dorval, Quebec, choosing Wilmot because they had friends who already lived nearby. They fell in love with Foxboro Green after a drive around the grounds. “We decided that this is where we wanted to live. The next day, we put in a bid on a lot,” said Lewis-Macdonald.

A decline in the economy in ’96 led to builder Barnhart enlisting residents as his unofficial salesforce. He helped them host open houses and barbecues, even providing aprons with the Foxboro Green logo.

“Most of the people who came, came from away, whereas now, we’re getting many more local people,” said Lewis-Macdonald.

Assisted by six Foxboro Green volunteers, she’s chairing the anniversary celebrations, which were originally intended to take place in the community’s recreation centre. Due to COVID-19 health and safety precautions, the private event will now be held outdoors in the second weekend of September.

“Our program consists of a talk of the early days in Foxboro, a few words from our builder, enacting change as Foxboro matured, and looking back through the lens of a comic satirist.”

Many teachers from across Ontario moved into the community during the Nineties after receiving early retirement packages.

Former Scarborough school principal Jim Arbuckle and his late wife Nancy, who passed away last September, arrived in 1995. With retirement looming, they began looking for a new home in an adult lifestyle community.

In 1994, Nancy found a New Hamburg Independent special edition called “Today’s Seniors”, which contained an advertisement for Foxboro Green. The Arbuckles attended an information session at Foxwood Golf Club before touring the adjacent development. They signed up, moving in a year later.

Jim was the condominium’s first president. For the 25th anniversary, he’s donating a commemorative plaque that lists all of the former presidents and the years in which they served.

He’s chaired the committee for Foxboro Green’s golf tournament for nearly two decades, and ten years ago he suggested making the event an annual fundraiser for cancer charity HopeSpring. It’s raised $110,000 so far.

“The community has become younger, but it’s still a warm, caring community. I think that’s the key about Foxboro Green.”