Marina in Assiginack renamed in honour of PC Marc Hovingh

Assiginack town staff unveil the new sign denoting the marina in Manitowaning as the River Road Marina. River Road was PC Hovingh’s beloved sailboat.

MANITOWANING—In a touching ceremony attended by a large crowd of community members, the Township of Assiginack renamed its Bay Street Marina to River Road Marina in tribute to one of its favourite residents, Provincial Constable (PC) Marc Hovingh who was slain in the line of duty in November of 2020.

PC Hovingh was an avid sailor and River Road was the name of his boat, a vessel upon which he and his family and friends created many happy memories.

PC Hovingh’s wife Lianne and their children, Laura, Nathan, Elena and Sarah attended the ceremony. “These are healing tears,” said Ms. Hovingh following the dedication and unveiling of a new sign identifying the marina.

PC Hovingh and his family immersed themselves in the community, noted events coordinator Jackie White. “Not only in Manitowaning, but on the Island as a whole,” Ms. White said. “Marc coached for Manitowaning Wolves hockey teams, the family was active in the elementary school and the church. Marc was a constant figure in the community and had a friendly comment for everyone and was known for a great sense of humour.”

Ms. White noted that PC Hovingh loved being on the water on his sailboat River Road. “As the kids got older, you would often see Marc and Lianne heading out for a sail in the summer evenings.”

Assiginack Mayor Dave Ham delivered remarks on behalf of the citizens of Assiginack. “I am honoured to be able to perform this ceremony in honour of Marc Hovingh,” he said. “Marc was an incredible person and gave so much to this community and the Island as a whole and, in the end, gave his life to protect others.” Mayor Ham cited PC Hovingh’s many acts of kindness over the 23 years the family lived in the community.

PC Hovingh’s close friend and colleague, retired Provincial Constable Julian Tonge, delivered a humorous and sensitive address in memory of his friend. “This is something that does not happen every day, nor should it,” said Mr. Tonge.

“I soon realized I was partnered with a very intelligent, gentle and hilarious man,” recalled Mr. Tonge. “Hard work and a deep friendship emerged” over the following 15 years.

He recalled sailing with PC Hovingh and the many conversations they had both at work and on the water.

Mr. Tonge recalled a humorous story of a trip to Heywood Island with a group of fellow officers.

“The sand beach was beautiful and stretched out in the clear water north for a long way,” he said, describing how the group, anchored 200 yards from shore, set out for the beach in Mr. Tonge’s small but robust one-person dingy. “It was soon overloaded with heavy police officers,” he said, along with barbecue and supplies. “Marc, I should mention, was wearing a heavy-knit white woolen sweater that I can only assume was knitted by his grandmother from some kind of rope and wearing jeans.”

“We poor souls were seated in a vessel that had, maybe, a half an inch of freeboard, we were hanging onto the surface by a thread,” said Mr. Tonge, as PC Hovingh descended into the skiff to join them. “Instantly we shot to the bottom of the lake.”

“Maybe it was the sweater, maybe it was a displacement issue,” said Mr. Tonge, but PC Hovingh patiently remained on the bottom despite the many feet bouncing on his face and body until the rest had cleared. “Feet, feet and more feet,” said Mr. Tonge. Until the dingy landed on him. Mr. Hovingh then clambered ashore struggling to remove the sweater. “Like a very drowned large rat he walked ashore. ‘Is the barbecue ready yet?’,” recalled Mr. Tonge. “Nothing, nothing could phase that man.”

After another humorous story, slightly more risqué, that illustrated PC Hovingh’s dedication to duty, Mr. Tonge summed up what many in the audience were feeling. “My close, close partner is so sadly missed, but his memory will live on with his family and today’s lovely dedication.”

A poem by Henry Vandyke, an American writer, was then read out by  Rhonda Bondi.

“I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship, at my side,

spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts

for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.

I stand and watch her until, at length,

she hangs like a speck

of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, ‘

There, she is gone.’

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all.

She is just as large in mast,

hull and spar as she was

when she left my side.

And, she is just as able to bear her load

of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me—not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, ‘There, she is gone,’

there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices

ready to take up the glad shout,

‘Here she comes!’

And that is dying…

The sign bearing the marina’s new name was then unveiled by Assiginack town staff to the applause of the audience.

“The ceremony for the renaming of the marina was quite touching. I congratulate the Township of Assiginack, as well as Lianne and her family for all the work they did in realizing this project,” said Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes following the ceremony. “Like a river that flows endlessly, the River Road Marina forever enshrines the legacy of Constable Marc Hovingh.”

PC Hovingh’s wife Lianne then addressed the crowd. “A perfect way to remember Marc,” she said. “I want to take a few moments to say thank you to the people and organizations who have lifted us up during our darkest time. Thank you to each and every one who mourned with us,” she said, citing the many blue hearts across the Island, the 500 cards that the family received and PC Marie Ford who set up a GoFundMe account for the children and a host of others.

“Thank you for all your thanks and prayers, I know they were heard by a loving God,” she said, thanking her church for the support, the officers and EMS who responded in November 2020, “not knowing if they would return to their families.”

Ms. Hovingh singled out PC Marie Ford, PC Bob Manley and Derek Needham for their tireless efforts on behalf of her family.