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A Walk with Roger

 Recently, I had the honour of walking with Stouffville resident Roger Davidson. Some of you may see him picking up trash with his dog Bosco on one of his three daily walks. During every one of his walks, he picks up trash from Stouffville’s trails and forests and puts it in its place. One time, he picked up 768 plastic bottles from a local forest in just 1.5 hours. He remarks “I had 6 to 7 garbage bags full.” Roger is truly an interesting and environmentally responsible guy. The following is a piece of his personal story

For the first five years of his life, Roger lived in Pickering where his family owned a General Motors car dealership. “My family has been in the car business for many years,” said Davidson. His grandfather started the GM dealership in 1924. At the age of 5, Roger’s family relocated to West Hill (neighboring Morningside in Scarborough). West Hill is where Roger lived for the rest of his childhood and where his father would eventually start his own Chrysler dealership. Growing up, Roger was around a lot of cars. During his childhood, his family had a cottage on Stoney Lake (in Peterborough County). He remembers test driving cars in the snow at the cottage when he was 12. 

As he spent more and more time up at the cottage, he noticed that Stoney Lake residents had to drive 14 km to dump their garbage. Roger, having grown up in an entrepreneurial environment, had a business idea. He offered to deliver residents’ garbage to the dump for a weekly fee. This idea was well-received. “I ended up having 120 customers for $5 a week. […] In just five weeks of work, I bought an 18-foot boat.” At the time, Roger was only 17 years old. His 1954 station wagon eventually became too small as he had to carry dozens of residents’ garbage. Roger ended up using an old Weston’s Bread truck to transport all of the garbage.

But the business ideas didn’t stop there! One day – while at Stoney Lake – Roger discovered an old mine shaft filled with soapstone. Most teenagers wouldn’t think twice about rocks, but Roger’s entrepreneurial spirit showed him the business potential. With the mining company’s permission, Roger dug out the soapstone from the mine and sold it to an Ontario art college for 20 cents a pound.

Fascinated by ancestry and human origins, Roger decided to study Anthropology and Psychology in post-secondary. As he recounted, “I had always been fascinated by the petroglyphs at Stoney Lake,” referring to ancient drawings he stumbled upon during his adventures throughout the caves surrounding the lake. Roger completed his degree in Anthropology and Psychology at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. It wasn’t until after he had completed his degree he found himself torn between pursuing a career related to his recent studies or his love of sales. “I was a scuba diving counselor at a camp and [my co-worker] said I was a natural salesman. So, I started an auto leasing company,” Since then, Roger has raised 3 kids. In 1979, his father retired and Roger took over the Chrysler dealership. Roger has also had his fair share of interesting experiences. For instance, a few years ago he had the privilege of being a guest on a polar bear expedition in the north of Canada with a few researchers. On this trip, Roger ended up giving CPR to a Polar Bear. “One too many tranquilizers hit the bear. The researcher told me to give it mouth to mouth. I had to do it for 10 minutes.” Roger assured me the Polar Bear survived the incident.

In 2008, Roger left his dealership behind to run a roofing supplies company. It was in that year that he also moved to Stouffville. Currently, he works part-time helping his kids with an online car dealership platform and saving Stouffville trails from trash.