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Giving Thanks for the Gift

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of L’Arche Daybreak we are publishing contributions, stories and photos that illustrate the gifts of our community. Enjoy this post about the founding days of L’Arche Daybreak written by Joe Egan.



Joe Egan and David Harmon have been faithful friends. Joe holds up the photo that David gave him over 40 years ago.

The 1970’s were a time of creation, growth, adventure, fun and challenge. Everything was new and changing. We didn’t always know the right thing to do or at times how to do things well. Yet most often we could say “it is good that we are here”.


One clear focus was the welcome of people. I love the story that an exception was made for the very first person, Bill Van Buren, who was only 16 when the minimum age was 18. The first home was the Big House, which lived up to its name as 25 of us lived together when I arrived in 1973. But many others needed a home so Daybreak grew quickly with the building of the New House in 1971 (funny how those original names stick!) and the Green House in 1974 and then the opening of Avoca House in Toronto and later on Church Street house. Many of us worked on the Daybreak farm or in our bakery as well as at the local workshop in town.


There are countless stories to tell. In the end, I feel much gratitude for the graced history of these founding years and for our founders. Steve and Ann Newroth gave so much to give birth to the dream of Daybreak and helped it to grow. Sue Mosteller built on this experience when she became the second Community Leader and put in place many of our current community traditions. Yet what marked Daybreak the most was the ongoing grace and gift of our other early founders like Bill Van Buren, David Harmon, John Bloss, John Smeltzer (and the L’Arche Daybreak saints in heaven).


The founders and those who followed are our beloved ones and we need to continue to listen to them.


Contributed by Joe Egan*

*Joe Egan has been a member of L’Arche for over 40 years. He was the third community leader at Daybreak, and has carried leadership roles at the National and International levels of L’Arche. Now retired, Joe and his wife Mary, continue as faithful members of L’Arche Toronto.
Photo credit Warren Pot, L’Arche Daybreak.

Daybreak 50 anniversary logo



If you would like to submit your own post or story about L’Arche Daybreak please email Warren Pot at [email protected].