This past week, Friends of the North Grenville Public Library (FNGPL) met to receive an oil painting of their founder, Patrick Babin, graciously donated by local artist Jennifer Gow. Although Jennifer never met the man, through friends in the area, she heard many stories about him. Pat was a true mover and shaker in our community. I personally met him over 20 years ago, when a bunch of us started up a group called North Grenville Council for the Arts. Among the many things we promoted, one was called the Dandelion Festival. Like so many other projects, he became involved with our group, and from there he started up the Friends, and volunteered in almost every other fundraiser possible, including the Kemptville Music Festival. He also got me involved in producing the Friends newsletter, something I still fondly do in his name today.
Pat loved this community; at one point he moved away, only to return two years later, realizing his mistake. Once North Grenville snares you, it is hard to leave. In 2004, Pat saw an opportunity and leapt into action, researching everything there was to know about Friends of the Library groups, both locally and nation‑wide.
The FNGPL has flourished over the years into a volunteer organization that helps breathe vitality and life into the Library. In 2011, the group was honoured nationally. Pat was instrumental in putting together the book that they used to submit the application that got them national recognition. There is hardly an organization in town that Pat didn’t volunteer for. Not only was he the force behind FNGPL, he also sat on the Library Board for many years.
He played a role in organizing the annual OPP BBQ that raised close to $1,000 for the Library every summer. He volunteered for the Salvation Army, the Dandelion Festival and was a member of the Executive of the Friends of the Ferguson Forest Centre. He used his love of trivia to create “Trivial Pursuit” activities for seniors, which he facilitated at Orchard Walk Retirement Community in Manotick, Bayfied Manor in Kemptville, and Kemptville and District Home Support.
Jennifer, with her passion for oil painting and her avid involvement in our community, saw an opportunity to honour a man who had meant so much to so many of us. She produced a remarkable likeness of the man, having only picked up oil painting two years ago, after being instructed by another well known artist, Jayne Couch Molony (Jayne also gives much to our community, and has sponsored free art classes for over a year now, thanks to community grants. She has also volunteered at the Youth Centre, again sharing her deep knowledge of drawing and painting). Jennifer has also produced a children’s book, with all proceeds going towards Ukraine relief. They can be purchased at the B&H and Brewed Awakenings.
The painting will be given a place of honour at the Library, Pat’s favourite hangout.