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Musings on May Webster, Part 1

Among St. John’s current congregation, one person, despite a rather diminutive stature, stands above all others in the longevity of her commitment to the parish. Indeed, May Webster has been a regular attendee for more than half of the century that St. John’s has occupied its home on Humberside Avenue. For those of us who have been part of St. John’s for many years, and those who are new, May’s importance to the church at its activities are obvious. However, May is generally soft-spoken about herself unless one asks her some questions, as I have. There are many questions I’d like to ask May, but I thought I’d start from the beginning: what first brought May to St. John’s?

May Zadkin (later May Webster) with daughter, Quita, 1971
May Zadkin (later May Webster) with daughter, Quita, 1971

May Zadkin came to St. John's by accident in December 1969. She was a single mother with a 3-year-old daughter, Mariquita (or simply Quita) and looking for a reason to get out of bed on Sunday mornings. She decided to undertake a tour of the neighbourhood churches. She wasn’t church shopping, but just looking to see the various styles of worship available. One of the first stops on the church tour was St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican on Glenlake Ave. at Indian Grove, and May saw it “as the way the Roman church used to be, only in English.” She visited several other churches of varying denominations, but would move on, “if I heard a sermon that made me uncomfortable.”

May then attended High Park Alhambra United Church (its former building on High Park & Annette is now becoming condos) on a day then known as “The Sunday Next Before Advent.” When the minister announced that Advent would begin the next week, May decided to spend Advent at an Anglican Church, and the closest was St. John’s.

     May and John Webster, c. 2000
May and John Webster, c. 2000

She didn’t decide to stay until after New Years 1970 and up to that point had not spoken to anyone. “Which was just as well... I think if anyone had spoken to me I would have bolted!” When May finally introduced herself to Rev. Maurice Poole, after being encouraged by a girlfriend, she was pleased to discover that “Mr. Poole did not bite!” May’s neighbourhood church tour had ended, but her accidental arrival at St. John’s soon led her to meeting John Webster, who had also found his way to 288 Humberside rather accidentally. May and John’s story will be the focus of another “Musings on May Webster” article.


Originally published in St. John's Newsletter on February 19th, 2023

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