As part of an ongoing tradition celebrating the Municipality’s 25th anniversary, the September 5 Council meeting took place outdoors in South Gower Park, instead of the usual setting in the North Grenville Municipal Centre in Kemptville. Over the last several months, Council has visited several places for meetings outside of their usual location, celebrating North Grenville as a whole.
Following the normal introductions, the meeting opened with a presentation from Steven Paterson regarding the upcoming Terry Fox Run that will be held locally this Sunday, September 17.
Next, as part of the ongoing amalgamation anniversary celebrations, Dr. David Shanahan gave a brief talk on the history of the former South Gower Township, explaining that it had been in existence for nearly 200 years prior to being amalgamated into North Grenville. David explained that the area was and is the traditional home of the Anishinaabe nation. He further explained that even though the former Oxford-on-Rideau Township was surveyed first, South Gower was settled first since it was accessible. Oxford-on-Rideau was then “colonized” – in a manner of speaking – by several important figures who had settled in South Gower.
A video shown at the Council meeting, taken 70 years ago in South Gower, showed locals settling down for a feast after a harvest. David talked throughout the video, explaining the historical significance of what was being shown. “This was a time when the community was very closely knit,” said David. “It was one of those times when South Gower had a real identity, and people knew where they were from in that regard.” The video also shows a woman storing produce in mason jars for the winter, showing how self-sufficient the community was. The video ends with snippets of a party, showing how young South Gower locals of the day enjoyed their free time.
Another video shown at the meeting gave a glimpse into the Town of Heckston decades ago, depicting a town that is both “familiar and not”, as David pointed out. Finally, a video with some familiar scenes from Kemptville – though in a very different era – was shown, while David pointed out all of the well-known landmarks and discussed the historical significance of the scenes.
Following David’s presentation, Lorraine Rekmans spoke to Council on behalf of the Indigenous Advisory Circle to discuss some recommended changes to the terms of reference in the Municipality’s declaration of allyship with Indigenous peoples. Specifically, Lorraine pointed out that Indigenous locals want to have relationships with their neighbours, not just with the Municipality, and so a wording adjustment to reflect this would be appropriate. Lorraine also insisted that a motion of support for the allyship between Indigenous peoples and North Grenville be passed during the meeting, and that the statement announcing such be read publicly at two upcoming Council meetings.
“We’re living in a politically charged world,” said Lorraine. “There are politicians who make these statements, and I think it’s important that they’re meaningful… that Canadians understand that we as Indigenous people are against the wall in these days. Your allyship would be incredibly meaningful and would demonstrate leadership to other municipalities.” The motion passed after some questions posed by members of Council were answered.
The next item of business was the declaration of September 18-24 as Rail Safety Week in the Municipality, with Mayor Peckford citing a near miss at a local railway crossing this year as a good example of why a rail safety campaign is important. Council also moved to proclaim the month of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month locally.
Other routine business was put before Council for information and discussion before the meeting ended after 1 hour and 12 minutes. The full meeting – including the historical video clips and corresponding narration – can be viewed at https://youtu.be/nDNu9NSbgME?si=uU1GqjjjVm8IQ4Qf.