For many years, pedestrians at the busy corner of Cavendish and Kildare always knew they could get across the street safely due to the presence of dedicated crossing guard Archie Kwiatt.
Archie was more than a mere crossing guard. He was a friend to everyone he met. I often accompanied him at the corner to study the traffic flow and it was amazing how popular he was with motorists and pedestrians alike. Students at Bialik High School were safer with Archie present. With a gentle voice and a wave of the hand he reminded them not to cross at red lights and to abide by the traffic rules. If a motorist drove recklessly he'd let them know this was unacceptable. Since his "office" was directly in front of Police Station 9, he made sure these incidents were reported.
In recent years Archie had to slow down his activity due to health reasons, initially taking the cold winters off. Recently, he retired. I am sad to report that Archie passed away on June 16 with his beloved with Bluma by his side. While at Maxies Bakery to pick up a few items, word was already circulating through the store via owner Mark that Archie - a fixture at the Quartier Cavendish food court - had passed away. Funeral services will take place on June 19 (1 p.m.) at Paperman and Sons.
I first met Archie many years ago through my dad. He was the ticket sales manager for the Montreal Alouettes and Concordes. His crossing guard duties essentially served as a semi-retirement gig. He loved every moment of the work and we in Côte Saint-Luc were lucky to have him.
Two years ago at my District 2 Information meeting I honoured Archie, presenting him with an Award of Merit. He was very touched. As he told me, 14 years earlier he was downsized from his job as a warehouse manager. Soon after he saw an advertisement in The Suburban. The city was seeking a crossing guard. He quickly called our Public Security Department. When they found out he worked in a freezer and was therefore able to adapt to cold weather the job was his.
"It's not a job; it is a labour of love," Archie told me. "I like the people. I have developed a lot of friendships. It's a lot of fun."
Archie's standard hours were 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and Noon to 4 p.m. I asked him who he focused more attention on, the students or the seniors. "The seniors," he responded. "It's a lot harder for them to cross the street than a younger person. I would like to think they have peace of mind with me there."
You can fast forward the video below to the 1:25 mark for my video chat with him on that night