All it ever took was one phone call.  In an instant a flurry of activity, ideas spouting, and overflowing excitement followed. In short, another project was started with Dave Hanley, Mr. Pop Up Hamilton.

“Uh, Dave, here’s the thing.  I sort of promised Twitter Canada that to prove my point that Hamilton has the best donuts in the country I would travel to their head office in Downtown Toronto to deliver them personally.  It’s a great opportunity to promote the city, but the thing is I need some help picking up and delivering the donuts. How about taking a quick road trip with me?”

Within a nanosecond the voice on the other line responded with an emphatic, “Yes!”  With no second thought he dove right in to help someone out.  That was Dave Hanley.

In late September Hamilton lost a true champion — not only for the culinary scene but the city in general.  Dave and his wife Nicole were the force behind Pop Up Hamilton, a dining event that brought together great food, drink, and music in very unique locations.  But most importantly it brought together Hamiltonians by the hundreds.

When Dave and Nicole came to Hamilton just a few short years ago, I remember sitting down with him and learning about the ideas he had to build this city up.  He had a very clear idea on what he wanted to achieve and the ways in which he could profile Hamilton.  He wasn’t from Hamilton, didn’t have vast connections throughout the city, and certainly could have carried out his plans somewhere else but he chose Hamilton. He chose to be a positive force in the city, and to help so many people along the way, no matter the cost.

He showed us all that building a sense of community and focusing on the positive can work to lift us all up. He believed Hamilton was home and continuously gave back to his home time and again.

With his passing, there has been a sea of stories shared about Dave, messages of thanks throughout social media, and tears shed over the loss of a beloved Hamiltonian –and just a really, great, guy.

As we move forward in a Hamilton without Dave Hanley,  we all must take a page from his book and be willing to work hard to show “mad love”  to this city.

Dave, we thank you. We’re thinking of you, and we’ll work just as hard to make this city  “pop”.

Rest in peace.