For Fred and Carolyn Hunter, it’s about friendship and giving back

Carolyn and Fred Hunter

TEHKUMMAH—Fred and Carolyn Hunter are part of the Tehkummah landscape. They have a history here. The farm they have lived on for 50 years belonged to Fred’s father, and to Fred’s grandfather before that. “When we got married we rented a farm for three years,” said Fred. “And then we bought that farm and then we bought this one. Now we’re out of all of them,” he chuckles.

The Hunters have two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Except for one grandson who lives in Sudbury, the rest are here on the Island. When they aren’t out volunteering, Fred and Carolyn spend time with their family. “We’d probably spend more time with family if we weren’t volunteering,” said Carolyn. “We didn’t really get into volunteering until after we were done work, around 2000, I guess. We’d probably be back bugging the family.”

They started out with the Tehkummah Triangle Seniors Club. Carolyn volunteered for several years and Fred joined in when he retired. He was president of the club for four years, from 2005 to 2008. Since then they’ve been volunteering for the Manitoulin Tourism Association on the Chi-Cheemaun as part of the Volunteer Navy. You can find Fred and Carolyn dispensing advice and directions every Monday from May through October. This year they’ve added the responsibility of preparing the schedule. The best part of this experience is meeting people, explained Carolyn. “We like working with the people from Tobermory who cross over with us. We work with the same ones and we get along well together.”

“We meet a lot of people from China, Germany, and other eastern countries,” added Fred. “They come to see our country, and experience aboriginal culture.”

Their other shared passion is square dancing, which they’ve been doing together for 26 years. Fred has called for the Hawberry Hoedowners square dance club for about 20 years. “We do that September to May, and then in the summertime every once in a while you go to a parade or event.”

A few years ago, Fred volunteered square dance calling for a group of wheelchair dancers in London. Last year they volunteered at Community Living Manitoulin, teaching square dancing. “We formed Manitoulin Bluegrass Square dancers,” Carolyn said. They danced at the Bluegrass Festival. “Hopefully they’ll be dancing this year again. That was fun.”

The Hunters help out the UCW, “just the big dinners at the hall though,” explained Carolyn. “We’ve made tea for the last 10 years. Usually we’re in the tea and coffee area. The big dinner is in November.”

They have also been involved with the Michael’s Bay Historical Society “helping with the fish fries,” said Carolyn. “The big thing was our Heritage Days when we had them. It was a good thing. It was nice, we enjoyed that. The plow, the horse pull.”

Heritage Days ran for three or four years. “We only had a few volunteers and they got tired,” Fred said. They see a general downward trend in community volunteering. Some people just don’t want to commit to the time it takes to volunteer, they think.

“When you’re volunteering, you’re helping out the neighbours and the community,” added Fred. The Hunters feel like they are giving back to a community that has been good to them.

“If you want to meet people in the community come on out and volunteer,” Carolyn advises. “The more that come out the better. “ She stressed the need to welcome young people into the organizations. “We need to move over for them or get out of their way and let them bring in new ideas,” she said. “They just need to know that the opportunities are out there. You see quite a few children around now so it’s kind of nice to keep things going for the younger generation.”

“Volunteering’s been great for us. It’s helped us a lot,” said Carolyn. “We do it together.”

“We do,” agreed Fred. “Even when we were farming we did it together. We each had a tractor and worked the fields together. But that wasn’t volunteering. That was just doing it.”

The Hunters recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and are looking forward to many more years of helping out and making new friends.