North Grenville officially celebrates 25th anniversary
by Ashley Sloan
On the evening of September 26, the Municipality held its official festivities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of North Grenville’s amalgamation. The event took place at the North Grenville Municipal Centre, with many notable people in attendance to celebrate the historic occasion. Attendees included all members of the current Council, many former Council members, MP Michael Barrett, and MPP Steve Clark, to name a few.
North Grenville was formed in the winter of 1998, concurrent with the well known Ice Storm of 1998, through the amalgamation of the townships of Oxford on Rideau and South Gower, and the Town of Kemptville. “Amalgamation does not come without its fair share of challenges and uncertainties but we have made huge achievements,” said CEO Karen Dunlop in her opening remarks at the celebration.
The evening was hosted by Cahl Pominville, a former Clerk who has been with the Municipality (if one counts the former Town of Kemptville) for over 25 years.
Former Councillors David Delaney, Richard Bole, Nancy Curtis, Patrick Desmond White, Barb Tobin, and Frank Onasonya were in attendance, with many others sending their regrets.
Cahl easily entertained the large crowd of guests with many stories of North Grenville’s early days. He noted that the very first issue that North Grenville had to get through was the Ice Storm, and that getting the word out to the rest of Ontario about where exactly North Grenville is posed the next challenge. Many municipalities, upon learning of the amalgamation, decided to follow suit.
Cahl recognized that the world of local governance is very busy, and that the families of municipal employees deserve thanks for giving them the opportunity to make the community a better place through the work that they do.
Part of the festivities involved a panel of the first Council members participating in a Q&A. Later on, Tom Graham, a well known resident from Bishop’s Mills who designed the North Grenville logo, shared a few words in place of historian David Shanahan who was unable to attend. David’s significant contributions to the historical understanding of the local area were acknowledged. The traditional Indigenous roots of the area were well explored at the celebration – Indigenous claim to the land on which North Grenville sits goes back centuries and makes 25 years look like a mere pittance of time.
Words were shared honouring the late Don Cameron, the first Mayor of North Grenville, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 80.
MP Michael Barrett gave a speech highlighting the spirit and welcoming enthusiasm that the North Grenville community had toward the Ukrainian community when they needed somewhere to go.
MPP Steve Clark gave a speech as well, commenting on how North Grenville was a true model for the amalgamation process and how positive the conversations went in the 90’s to get us to where we are today. This had set North Grenville apart from the other municipalities, he noted.
In her speech toward the end of the celebration, Mayor Peckford spoke of the Chain of Office she was wearing around her neck, and what an important symbol it is. “North Grenville deserves this,” she said, referring to the Chain of Office as a way to mark the contributions of hundreds of people over several decades. She thanked Bruce Harrison for being in attendance to wear it, given his long history with the Municipality. Bruce was a Council member sitting on NG’s first Council, and was also responsible for introducing the first Police Service Board here, among many other accomplishments. “He needed to wear it, I am only here in passing, and we really need to respect and recognize and celebrate the leaders who were so integral in bringing North Grenville together and allowing it to be what it is today,” added Mayor Peckford.
Bruce gave a simple analogy that the best way to strengthen steel is to subject it to stress: fold it, bend it, and plunge it through fire, then into water and sometimes ice it over and over again. So the best way to measure the character of a community is to witness how its members react to stress. He noted that the Ice Storm of 1998 brought the community even closer together.
A reception followed the celebration with food provided by a handful of local businesses who have been serving the community for 25 years or more, some for much longer. Overall, the evening was a wonderful commemoration of an amazing Municipality.