GORE BAY—A spectacular celebration to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Town of Gore Bay was held on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, in the Gore Bay Community Hall.
“Today, we are celebrating a special event in the history of Gore Bay. On this very date, 125 years ago, an Act passed by the government of Ontario to incorporate and thereby create the Corporation of the Town of Gore Bay became law,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane at the celebration open house.
A jam packed Gore Bay Community Hall heard town crier Phil Dangerfield ring the bell to get everyone’s attention at the start of the celebration. “O’Yez! O’Yez! O’Yez! Lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses, counts and countesses, commoners and serfs.”
“May all ye good citizens of her majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Dominion of Canada gather near and hear this proclamation made before you this 7th day of April in the year of 2015,” read Mr. Dangerfield. “Let it be known that on or about 1870, the first permanent settlers arrived and settled a fine harbour on the shores of the North Channel in the soon to be established township of Gordon. And further be it known that by 1890 this settlement, having grown into a vibrant fishing community, did petition the government of Ontario to be incorporated as a town.”
“And by this proclamation of His Excellence the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Sir Alexander Campbell, did the town of Gore Bay officially come into being on this day 125 years ago,” read Mr. Dangerfield. “In recognition of that monumental day, I give to you the Lord High Mayor of the finest community of this glorious province and the legislative seat of the largest fresh water Island in the world-good citizens of Gore Bay and noble guests, Mayor Ronald Lane. May God bless the Queen and the Town of Gore Bay!”
“To mark this special occasion the council of the Town of Gore Bay is pleased to present our 25h anniversary open house,” said Mayor Lane. “On behalf of council and myself I would like to officially welcome everyone that has joined us today and also to make special mention of certain groups or individuals that are present as well.”
“The pupils from Grades 6, 7 and 8 at C.C. McLean Public School; our children are the most prized possession we have. They are our future political and business leaders. They are our future doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, farmers and teachers. It is important that they participate today so they can understand that what we have now and who we are today is a direct result of what has occurred in the past 125 years,” said Mayor Lane. “The reeve, councillors and staff from the township of Gordon/Barrie Island. Prior to 1890 the village of Gore Bay was part of the larger township of Gordon. Notwithstanding that Gore Bay was separated from Gordon Township in 1890 and given its own boundaries and government, Gore Bay and Gordon/Barrie Island throughout the years and up to and including today have worked closely together on many projects and services for the benefit of all our citizens.”
“The past members of council and mayors of the town of Gore Bay,” said Mayor Lane. “In a small town like ours it is important that people step forward and give up some of their time to serve their fellow citizens. There are several in the building today that have done just that and as a result of their dedication and efforts Gore Bay has and continues to be a well maintained and prosperous community.”
“As part of today’s program we will be presenting special youth awards and recognizing certain citizens from our community,” said Mayor Lane. “We will be adding some items that represent the era we live in to the town of Gore Bay time capsule that was created on the 100th anniversary of the town in 1990. Those items are located on a table at the back of the hall for you to view. We will have a media presentation prepared by Steve Maxwell that will take us ‘through the years in Gore Bay,’ and finally we will have a social time for birthday cake and refreshments. Please sit back and relax and enjoy yourself as we mark this special moment in our history.”
“Imagine what it was like in 1890,” Mayor Lane told the audience. “Queen Victoria of England was our Queen. Canada as a country was only 23 years old. The surveying of the townships, townsites and the settlement of the island had only begun 15 years earlier. If you were living in Gore Bay in 1890, unless you were a child, you were likely born in some other part of world- most likely the British Isles or perhaps Europe. My own grandfather as a boy of five years old along with his family arrived at the Gore Bay dock 124 years go having travelled by ship all the way from Liverpool, England. Many like him came here leaving behind all they had to start a new life in a new land.”
“In 1890, the only way to get to Manitoulin Island was by boat as it would be 23 more years before the railroad reached the island at Little Current and many years after that before a road link was established,” explained Mr. Lane. “There was no electricity, no phones, no cars, no airplanes or any of the other conveniences we take for granted today. If you travelled by land you walked and used a horse. It was a different time and a different life style.”
“The early years on Manitoulin were tough and the people were tough too,” said Mayor Lane. “They cleared the land, planted crops, cut timber, fished the lakes, started businesses and made a life for themselves and their families. Since Gore Bay had a natural harbour it became the point of landing and departure for this part of the Island.”
“The initial settlement was in the north end of town nearer to the docks but as time went on the town expanded further south. From these small beginnings it developed into and continues to be the service centre for the residents of Western Manitoulin,” said Mayor Lane. He noted, “Gore Bay’s first mayor was J. Russell McGregor and its first councils was consisted of George Young, blacksmith, George Porter, blacksmith, George Strain, stone mason, Hector McLean hotel keeper, John Baxter a tinsmith, and Peter Anderson, merchant.”
“Why did Gore Bay become a town? In 1988 the Ontario government in response to the substantial increase in population that was taking place in the northern part of the province created the ‘Judicial District of Manitoulin.’ Along with that came the need to select a place on Manitoulin where the provincial government buildings (courthouse, land registry office and jail) would be built. By a vote of the people on the island in June 1888, Gore Bay was chosen to be this new centre of District government,” said Mayor Lane. “In the session of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto that commenced on January 28, 1890 a statute was drafted to give Gore Bay the legal status as an official town with its own boundaries, its own mayor and council, the ability to make laws and to collect money to pay for town services.”
“While the Ontario Legislature gave Gore Bay its legal status as a town, that was in itself only a piece of paper,” said Mayor Lane. “What makes a town is the community that develops within it. The people in the community are the town and its elected mayor and council are representatives of those people. So when we speak of the town of Gore Bay we are really speaking of all of us as residents of this town. It is our collective ideas, energy and spirit that makes Gore Bay the great place to live and work that it has been in the past and continues to be today. We need to be proud of our past, appreciate what we have today and be confident about our future. If we can do that our descendants will hopefully in 2090 be celebrating our 200th anniversary.”
“We have a list of presentations to make,” said Mayor Lane. “We had asked the students of C.C. McLean to participate in a poster, poem and story contest. We had a total of 71 entries from students in grades Kindergarten to Grade 8.”
For his beautiful art work of a scene in Gore Bay, Mason McLaughlin in the Grade 2 class was presented with the artist of the year award by Mayor Lane.
Mayor Lane then noted the poet of the year award was being presented to Grade 8 student April Torkopoulos, who read her poem, “Should We Do It,” to the audience:
“We drove seven hours straight,
And stopped by the house.
February 2010 was the date,
We walked in and it was quiet as a mouse.
My mom and I looked around,
Then we went outside,
For a moment there was no sound,
“Should we do it?” I replied.
“Yes.” My mother smiled,
My new home is now Gore Bay,
The adventure has been wild.
It’s a fantastic place where I want to stay!
The writer of the year award was presented to Grade 2 student Alexandra Wilson-Zegil. Her story was on the Gore Bay Theatre. “Big floor for the audience. Stage for moving around. Big black curtains to change the scene. People acting up on stage. Lots of fun for all to act like some people just like me. From Robert Munsch to the Wizard of Oz. They can put on any play. As long as they try hard enough. Whenever I pass the building, I think of all my friends. And all the fun I had with them.”
Mayor Lane pointed out that along with the plaques the children received, they were also provided with prizes donated by Betty’s Convenience, Former Flame, M and R Jewellery, My Ol’ Blues, Robertson’s IDA Variety Store, and Whyte’s. All the pictures, poems and stories will be on display at the second floor of the Gore Bay Harbour Centre for the month of April.
“We felt it was very important to recognize certain members of the community, including the youngest citizen award, the oldest citizen award and the eldest former councillor award,” said Mayor Lane.
The youngest citizen award was presented to Leigh Lila Madill. “Leigh Lila Madill was born February 19, 2015. Her parents are Kara Vakiparta and Glyn Madill,” said Mr. Lane. “Leigh is the second child for Kara and Glyn. Kara is assistant crown attorney at the Gore Bay courthouse. Her husband Glyn Madill is vice principal at Manitoulin Secondary School.”
“It is great to see young families moving to Gore Bay and starting a family. Growth is key to small communities such as our own,” said Mayor Lane.
In presenting the eldest citizen award to Sharon Sloss, on behalf of her mother Thelma Pauline Smith, Mayor Lane stated, “Thelma Pauline Smith was born on December 22, 1916 in Providence Bay. She lived briefly in California and back to Mindemoya with her mother. She moved to Gore Bay with her parents at age 12 and graduated as a registered nurse in 1938 at Toronto General Hospital.”
In 1941 Ms. Smith became a stewardess for Transcontinental Airlines (now known as Air Canada). She married Fred Smith on December 22, 1942 and continued to live and work/volunteer as a nurse until her retirement, explained Mayor Lane. “Pauline lived in her own home until the age of 96 and a half until moving to Manitoulin Lodge. Pauline is unable to be here today but her daughter Sharon Sloss is accepting on her behalf.”
“The next award is to a person who has given a good portion of her life to serving the community, and our next presentation is to a person that needs to be recognized for this,” said Mayor Lane. “Mina Turner served on Gore Bay council from February 20, 1980 until November 24, 1997. On December 12, 1988, Mina was appointed acting head of council. She was a hardworking dedicated councillor who served her community well.”
“Mina was born and raised on the East Bluff,” continued Mayor Lane. “She was a clerk at the Central Store, a bookkeeper for many years at Smith and Pope and in more recent year’s bookkeeper for Charlie’s Shell. She has been an active member of the community throughout her lifetime and she and her family should be very proud of her accomplishments.”
Mayor Lane noted, “we tried to think of a way to capture the history of the town from its start of time to the present. Steve Maxwell was asked to provide a video history presentation. Steve is very gifted and he put together a terrific video presentation that captures the heart and spirit of the community.”
In his video, ‘Gore Bay: 125 years of Memories,’ Mr. Maxwell takes the viewer on a history tour of the town and its people from the past and present. “We’re not a small community of 900, but we’re a large family of 900,” he said.
“Every well-loved small town is more than just a place to live. It’s also a community that’s home to many generations, many families, and more than a few interesting characters, all sharing memories of places, events, buildings and lives-good times and bad,” said Mr. Maxwell in the video, accompanied by pictures of the people, events, activities, buildings and businesses in the town over the years.
“On April 7, 1890, 125 years ago today, Gore Bay began its journey as a town, creating its own place in history-the same place where many of us have grown roots today,” said Mr. Maxwell. “looking back is one of the best ways we can appreciate what we have and make the most of what we might do in the future.”
Those on hand gave a large ovation to Mr. Maxwell’s video presentation, as it concluded.
Everyone then enjoyed Gore Bay 125th anniversary cake and refreshments.
“We hope that you have enjoyed this afternoon and that it has given you something to think about,” said Mayor Lane. “Throughout the remainder of this year we will be having other events to celebrate our 125th anniversary including: a Roaring ‘20s theme dance with music through the years on May 30; a full day of community events on July 1, including a parade and fireworks, events sponsored by the museum throughout the summer, a historic car rally throughout western Manitoulin on Thanksgiving Saturday in October and finally a family New Year’s Eve party to see this special year out in style.”
“I would like to thank you for attending today and also give a special thank you to the volunteers that made this day possible,” said Mayor Lane, who encouraged everyone to “stay and join us for birthday cake and refreshments.”