Wes Playter, owner of Roadhouse and Rose Funeral home, is a history enthusiast and dedicated volunteer whose contribution to his local community will go down in the books. Literally.
A Canadian history major in University, Wes quickly realized that history was more of a hobby than a career path. “If I’d focused on it as a career, I think I may have lost the passion,” he said. Thankfully, for the Town of Newmarket and its residents, that didn’t happen because for more than 20 years now Wes has been volunteering his time to ensure that local history is preserved and remembered. “You hate to see things forgotten over the years,” he said. “You want to try to keep it going.”
Learning about Newmarket’s heritage can and should be fun says Wes. He embraces this idea with a series of books he has created to focus on local history. “I had an idea to make a coffee table book that would be an easy read with a focus on old pictures,” he said. His first book was a general history of Newmarket with proceeds benefitting the Heart & Stroke. It was a huge success and Wes has since gone on to publish two more annual editions, the second book focusing on Newmarket churches and benefitting the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region, and his most recent book covering the history of transit in Newmarket with proceeds going to the Doane House Hospice. “There are so many things people don’t know about Newmarket’s history and I love the challenge of finding out more,” he said.
Wes’ quest for knowledge and awareness of local history doesn’t stop there. He played an instrumental part in the research and placing of plaques on the historical houses in Newmarket’s downtown area; he is the Co-Chair for Heritage Newmarket; he sits on the town’s Street Naming Committee; conducts historical walking tours, and even gives historical presentations in retirement homes and high school classrooms.
Another cause that Wes holds dear is working with veterans through the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Newmarket Veteran’s Association. “Three of my four grandparents were vets, so it really hits close to home,” he said. “There are lots of veterans in the area that need help and don’t necessarily know the support that is available to them.” Wes has played a key role in the local Remembrance Day ceremonies for over 15 years and was a driving force behind getting the first Peacekeeping and Armed Service Monument in York Region now located in the Newmarket Veteran’s Park.
In 2012, Wes was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of all the wonderful work he does for his community.
And if that isn’t enough, Roadhouse and Rose Funeral Home (which ironically happens to be Newmarket’s oldest business, founded in 1842) is also heavily committed to giving back to their community. “We try to get involved and support as many things as possible,” said Wes. They are avid supporters of a number of local charities including The Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, and Bereaved Families of York Region, to name a few.
Looking to the future Wes wants to get more hands-on with his volunteer work. “I want to get more involved at the grassroots level,” he said. “I want to participate in the events and be a part of making them come to life.”