2023 East Gwillimbury Honouree
Viv Agresti moved to Canada 65 years ago, at the age of ten, from Rome, Italy. His father, wanting a better life for his family, arrived first, followed by Viv, his mother, and sister. They arrived penniless, first by boat to Halifax, then carrying on by train to Kirkland Lake. For a ten-year-old boy and his family, the vast amount of snow was a rare sight. The family then moved to Bradford, Ontario and Viv lived there until he married his wife, Mary. They have been happily married for over fifty years. Viv relates that it was difficult coming to a new country, but with the generous help of other people, the family made Canada their permanent home.
Viv learned by example from his parents that drive, determination, and a never-give-up attitude is what moves you forward. This has been Viv’s philosophy his whole life. At the age of seventeen, Viv booked live musical acts for many teen town dances and parties in surrounding areas. By the age of nineteen, Viv started working at Bailey River Farms, where he would become a partner by the age of twenty-four. He had many other successful business ventures before starting ATV Farms, a family-owned operation. Viv is fiercely proud of his three children, successful in their own right, and dedicated to running ATV Farms’ two locations alongside their dad. And now the grandchildren are starting to come into the family business. No matter what trials and hardships are thrown your way, Viv knows, from experience, that having goals and a dream, with a no-quit positive attitude, will sustain and strengthen you through everything. Challenges are just hiccups in the road.
Three years ago, tragedy struck when the premises where they packed food burnt down. They lost millions of dollars and, fortunately, no one was injured. Viv recalls this as an emotional time, not because of the “hiccup,” but because the strength and resolve shown by the community of growers, staff, and his family, meant they secured another warehouse, and were back up and running within twenty-four hours. They never missed an order, they grew their business, and most of their customers of forty years stuck by them.
Viv’s drive to not give up is only equaled by his drive to give back. He was president of a minor hockey association in East Gwillimbury and York Simcoe for twenty years. His reward was seeing young boys develop their skills and grow their self-esteem. Easter Seals has also benefitted from his volunteering. Viv humbly shares that he was East Gwillimbury’s Citizen of the Year some years ago, but most importantly, it isn’t the recognition that matters to him, it is the reward of knowing he has had a positive impact on other people.
Viv’s biggest reward is knowing that his children have the same drive and purpose he does. Just as he learned the importance of family from his father, his children learned the same values from Viv and Mary. Viv is particularly thankful to Mary, his wife, for always standing with him, no matter what adventures he explored.