Terry Butler died last week in his 75th year. In January, Terry sat down and talked to the Times about his life and career in North Grenville, a place he loved and served for so many years. He wanted to leave behind a record of how he felt and how he remembered North Grenville. It is good to hear him speak in his own words. He spoke with such pride about the people he knew and worked with over those years, and how he came to be here:
“I kicked around in retail all my life and I managed the K-Mart at Meadowlands and Merivale Road. I interviewed with Gordon Reid at Giant Tiger and he said he had a store in Eastern Ontario that he was going to open and that would be right for me. It was Kemptville, so he said: “Go see Keith Beveridge”. I did and Gord asked me later if I’d seen Keith, and I said, yeah, we’re going ahead. He asked if I had any contracts, or anything, and I said no. But I had asked Keith about that and he’d said “I shook your hand, didn’t I?” And that was it, but it just about drove Gord nuts, because that was it. Eventually, the lawyers got at it, and there were contracts. But to Keith, the handshake was what mattered. He shook my hand and looked me in the eye, so I’m digging a hole and putting a store in it!
There were great people I met like that: Keith Beveridge, Harry Pratt. The day after I opened the store, Harry Pratt came in and called me to the front desk. Harry had this big smile on his face. “So, you’re the guy that opened this store?”, and I said “Yes, Sir. I think I can be an asset”. And Harry said, “well, we’re known as the area with a heart, always first in donations for cancer and all that, so I’ll be watching you to see you play a role in that”. And I told him I’d do my best.
And he’d be in every week: “Lions Club is selling peanuts this week. How many cases do you want?” Coming from Toronto, it was just unbelievable. I’d never seen such a respect for a town that some of these people showed. Such dedication and such passion. Terry McEvoy and his two children developed that 150 Trail System. They rode it, marked it, and just wouldn’t stop until it was done. I just wanted to be part of it.”
Terry’s pride in North Grenville was obvious in the excitement which came through when he talked about one of his favourite issues:
Look at the Ferguson Forest Centre: you put that in Vermont and they’d give their eye teeth for it. Yet there was a strong group of people who wanted that sold off, right back to Anniversary Park. That was the beginning of young people starting to lose faith in politicians. But we had a meeting at the W. B. George Centre [about the Forest Centre] and there was a nucleus of young people there. I had a pretty good hope that if these young people talk, we’re going to do it. But instead they started saying “They’re going to do what they want. It doesn’t matter what we say, if they want to close it, they’ll close it”. It really hurt me and I said to them: “That’s not true. Like, if you people all band together and say you won’t do this, and we’ll tie ourselves to the trees, you’ll stop this. You’ll have your forestry for the next 99 years”. And all of a sudden, the light went on. And it worked.
There were so many others he mentioned with pleasure and appreciation, other issues he had worked on: Heritage, Gallery 6, the 150 Trails, Anniversary Park, downtown Kemptville, and many more.
He had a huge impact on this community and lived up to his promise to Harry Pratt: “I told him I’d do my best”.