Well, that was an interesting year, wasn’t it? No matter where you focus, national, international, provincial or municipal, there was always something interesting happening. Of course, interesting is not always a good thing to be, but that’s the way it is. It was Canada’s 150th, and North Grenville celebrated that in a somewhat restrained way. Unlike Kemptville’s 150th in 2007, there was no concerted effort made to make the year one of celebration by the municipality. They put the emphasis on Canada Day itself, which turned out to be an unusually wet one in 2017.
But there were plenty of other activities and events to bring out the crowds and get people involved in marking the national birthday. Kemptville Live was, once again, a huge part of the summer, putting North Grenville on the national festival map for the third year. What better way to mark Canada 150 than to have Gordon Lightfoot, Burton Cummings and Leona Boyd, legends all, on stage in our neighbourhood?
The Annual Sweetheart Brunch in February, raised over $25,000 for local charities. Throughout the Summer, fundraising events continued almost every weekend, as our community continued its fantastic tradition of compassionate fun. Kicking the Summer off, as it were, was the Kemptville Youth Centre Breakfast at the Christian Reformed Church, by which the KYC raised their goal of $4,000, the money going towards providing insurance coverage for the Centre and its many programs.
There was a BBQ in aid of the Jumpstart program at the Canadian Tire the same day, raising money to help local kids get involved in sports, providing equipment, registration and other costs for those who might otherwise lose out on sporting activities. The BBQ raised $880 plus $333 from Canadian Tire staff, making a total of $1,210. Every Dollar raised is matched by Canadian Tire. That same weekend, the Kemptville Rotary held their annual Family Duck Race, BBQ and Decoy Challenge, and there was the Hike for Hospice at the Ferguson Forest Centre, an Open House at Bayfield Manor, and Community Living North Grenville’s 50th Anniversary Gala featuring Bowser & Blue. And that was just a few of the events taking place on the first real weekend of Summer.
A great victory was achieved by this community in February, when the Ontario Government reversed its decision to close the Service Ontario office in Kemptville after a tremendous public campaign produced a petition against the closure signed by more than 10,000 residents and neighbours. The hope now is that the equally crazy decision to close Oxford-on-Rideau Public School can also be reversed.
We could fill this issue, and more, with everything that happened locally in 2017: the South Wind Brigade crisis in June, the Kemptville Legion celebrating 85 years since its charter was issued and the 60th anniversary of their building on Reuben Street; the visit of the Premier to the KYC in August; the renovations to the Armoury Building; not to mention all of the marvellous musical events put on during the year. The Sound of Music, We’ll Meet Again, and all of the Christmas season musical evenings held throughout the region.
We also lost irreplaceable parts of our community in 2017, including Terry Butler, who served on Council from 2003 until 2014 and was instrumental in ensuring the survival of the Ferguson Forest Centre. Speaking of which, news came out in November of a threat to the FFC, one which we hope will be countered in 2018.
What about 2018: is it likely to be an anticlimax after Canada 150? Definitely not. Not only does North Grenville mark its own birthday – twenty years since amalgamation of Oxford-on-Rideau, South Gower and the Town of Kemptville – and all that has led to, but we will be enjoying not one, but two elections in 2018. In June, we’ll have a provincial election, closely followed in October by our own municipal election. There will be no shortage of things to talk, write and think about in the coming year.
The New Year is always a time to reflect on the past, while looking to the future. It’s not just the twenty years of North Grenville that we remember, but also the 227 years since this land was first surveyed for settlement. Lots has happened here, enough to give us a sense of perspective and an awareness that things change, people come and go, no-one and nothing is permanent. But still, we have our part to play in this ongoing saga, our chapter to add to the shared story of what is now called North Grenville, or Merrickville-Wolford, or even Ontario, Canada. May we all play our part in honour and integrity and caring. From everyone at the Times, happy New Year to you all. It should be fun!