Reflecting on Chris Karkabasis


By Lindsay Advocate

The late Chris Karkabasis is fondly remembered by former Lindsay councilor and mayor, Lorne Chester. Photo courtesy of Christina Dedes.

Pat and I were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Lindsay icon, Chris Karkabasis. I first met Chris approximately 50 years ago, when, as a new young lawyer in town, I would often have lunch at his Cottage Restaurant that was just around the corner from my law firm.

We both ran for two of the six positions on Lindsay Council, collaborating and campaigning together and were both very lucky to be elected for the 1976 to 1978 term. I will never forget most of that election day in December of 1975. We celebrated at the Cottage Restaurant and later Chris took me to a back room and proceeded to teach me the virtues of ouzo. I have not had so much as a sip since.

After that, we enjoyed a long association, serving together on town council. I learned a lot from him, including that passion has a place in municipal politics. His dogged determination, saw many of his pet projects or issues through to completion. He was a strong supporter, not only of the Chamber of Commerce, but also, of the Academy Theatre and of the downtown core. He had a strong sense of civic duty for all the taxpayers of Lindsay.

In a council meeting, if he was desperate, he would dig down deep into his Greek heritage and regale us with (and somehow link it to the issue at hand) the Battle of Thermopylae, where 400 brave Spartans, led by his hero, Leonidas, fended off tens of thousands of Persians for many days. If I had the right of reply, I would remind Chris, and those present and voting, that not only did Leonidas lose that battle, but the Spartans lost the war.

Chris was definitely opinionated; some would say stubborn. I would rather call it persistent.

He was passionate and proud, of his wife, Cathe, of his children, Nicki and Louis, and of his grandchildren. He cared for his extended family, his friends, and his community.

We not only shared similar interests in politics, we were also long suffering Leaf fans. At any restaurant it was “Hi Khristos. What can we get you? Sit here my friend.” He knew every waiter, manager and owner. We were treated like royalty and it was Greek Immersion 101!

Although Chris was successful, he was never too busy to sit down with you and have a coffee and share his words of wisdom. It didn’t matter where you came from or who you were, he was there, to listen and to share.

Here’s to you old friend, it is time for me to have another glass of ouzo in your memory. But this time, as I am older and wiser, I will be sipping and savouring one glass, as I ponder over how I can help you figure out how Leonidas could have won.

– Lorne Chester, Lindsay

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