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The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook

I had the pleasure of sitting down for coffee with 83 year old Dave Woods, a familiar figure under the Bluewater Bridge in Pt. Edward, where he often entertains those passing by with his accordion.
Dave is originally from Midland, Ontario, and comes from a large farm family with seven boys and two girls, all musically inclined. He moved to Sarnia in 1960, following his brother, and began working for his uncle, a builder. Eventually, he joined Union Local 663 Plumber, Pipefitter and Welder, working in maintenance and construction until his retirement in 2001 at 61.
In 1963, Dave married Julia, and they had two sons and one daughter. He proudly shares that he has 13 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
In 1978, Dave, Julia, and their children moved to Moonbeam, near Kapuskasing, where he worked in a paper mill and lived on a 240-acre property with two lakes. After eight years, they returned to Sarnia.
At 18, Dave bought a used accordion in Toronto, and later purchased the one he uses today which is now over 70 years old. He also plays the guitar and, though he can't read music, he plays by ear. His favorite genre of music to play is gospel music.
Dave began playing the accordion publicly after Julia passed away in 2019, using it as a way to cope with his grief and connect with others. Initially shy, he soon found encouragement from those who enjoyed his music. In the summer of 2019, he only missed six days of playing. Now, he visits the river two or three times a week to share his music and socialize. He often plays his accordion at Julia’s graveside.
In September 2023, Dave moved into a new apartment after selling his home of 29 years. He enjoys the apartment's lower maintenance, allowing more time for bike riding and social activities such as meeting with "the boys" once a week for coffee.
As we sat in the restaurant, it was easy to see that Dave is well-known and respected. People would stop at the table to say hello, and he had a warm smile and greeting for everyone. He listens intently and takes a genuine interest in what you have to say when you converse with Dave . During our conversation, he received several texts and phone calls from his children, highlighting his close relationship with his family.
Dave Woods exemplifies how to embrace and enjoy retirement, finding joy and community through his music and connections.

“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.

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