For the first time since early 2020, the Town of Collingwood hosted a formal gathering for the annual Mayor's Levee and Order of Collingwood presentations on Sunday, Feb. 27.
Following the theme of "Rising to the Pandemic Challenges" the levee event centred around the volunteer efforts of this year's Order of Collingwood and Companion to the Order inductees.
This year's recipients have spent decades advocating for citizen's voices in municipal politics, opening up opportunities for youth sports and activities, serving behind the scenes to support and feed their communities, and advocating for strong environmental protections for Collingwood's watersheds.
This year's recipients were Su Cook, Tim Cook, Christine Macfarlane, Ivy Martin, Margaret Mooy, and Norman Wingrove.
Also as part of the ceremony, Mayor Brian Saunderson delivered a 2022 address, which is probably his last as mayor since the next levee will be hosted by the mayor elected in October. Saunderson is not running municipally, but will be running for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in the provincial election.
Saunderson thanked the community for rising to the occasion during the pandemic and coming out "stronger" despite the disruptions and tragedies.
He returned to his election platform of "common unity creating community" to encourage people to work together.
"There has been division over the last two years, social media has gone to a new level, probably new lows," he said. "We have to cultivate our community and we can only do that together."
He reminded citizens of the planned update for the Community-Based Strategic Plan during the next term of council and encouraged people to participate in its formation.
"The Community-Based Strategic Plan is a critical part of council's action plan, and that strategy is co-created with you," said Saunderson. "I invite you to get your voices heard."
Saunderson and the six remaining Collingwood councillors – Yvonne Hamlin, Mariane McLeod, Deb Doherty, Kathy Jeffery, Bob Madigan, and Steve Berman – presented plaques and pins to the Order of Collingwood recipients.
Tim and Su Cook
Tim Cook received an Order of Collingwood alongside his mother, Su Cook, both for their own respective volunteer efforts.
The simultaneous presentation was appropriate in Tim's mind, as he credits his parents with instilling a strong work ethic and drive for volunteering in him.
"I wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for my parents," said Tim. "They taught me, if you can help someone, do it."
Su Cook said she thought notice she received to let her know she was receiving an Order of Collingwood was a hoax, and couldn't understand why she was even nominated. Though she was grateful for the award.
In presenting Su and Tim with their awards, Councillor Mariane McLeod said Su is known for "quietly making things just so."
The Order of Collingwood was given to Su because of her volunteer work at Trinity United Church where she regularly works behind the scenes to prepare food and help run and support events and outreaches.
Su and her late husband Ted donated the use of their land on Leslie Drive for Cook Community Gardens. Su and Ted's son, Tim, received his award for his volunteer work at the community garden and also at Trinity United Church.
Tim runs the audio-visual equipment for the church's Vacation Bible Camps and regularly helps in the kitchen. He helps gardeners at the Cook Community Garden, and also is a regular volunteer with the Collingwood Curling Club.
Christine Macfarlane has been part of the local volunteer community for more than five decades, including with the Girl Guides Association for 25 years. She helped lead 19 Collingwood Girl Guides on a trip to Katano, Japan, Collingwood's sister city.
She volunteered at Mountain View Elementary School on parent council and to help with fundraising while her children attended school, and led ceramic painting classes for students.
Macfarlane was also the first female on the board of directors for the Collingwood Youth Soccer Association.
And for the past 24 years, she has volunteered as the principal buyer and merchandiser for the gift shop at the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital.
Macfarlane thanked her family for their patience as she spent so much time on volunteer projects.
She said the Order of Collingwood was not necessary, but it was appreciated.
"I get so much personal satisfaction from volunteering," said Macfarlane.
Margaret Mooy is a regular volunteer for multiple boards and organizations that centre around civic matters and municipal politics. Her volunteer efforts and activism have centred around support for Collingwood Hospital, protection of heritage buildings in town, preserving the Collingwood terminals, and working to create Collingwood's four heritage walking tours.
Councillor Deb Doherty, while presenting Mooy with her Order of Collingwood, said the town is special "because of the people who give selflessly."
"You are one of those people," said Doherty.
Mooy said she has been fortunate to have many mentors who helped her learn about the importance of citizen participation in municipal politics and decision making, and in the value of heritage buildings.
"I learned residents have a voice," said Mooy. "This award recognizes many individuals who worked alongside me ... a single individual cannot be successful without a community and family."
She finished her acceptance speech with a quote from Margaret Mead, who said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has."
Ivy Martin had a career as a rhymic gymnast with the Canadian National Gymnastics team and was inspired by a coach who challenged her to find ways to provide athletic opportunities to others after she retired from the sport.
She ran a gymnastics program and volunteered at the YMCA as well as at local schools to teach gymnastics. She also worked with a group to form the Collingwood Girls Hockey Association. The local girls hockey program has grown to include 170 players, 65 staff volunteers, 25 player volunteers, three rep teams, six local league travel teams and a development program.
"My hope is that this acknowledgement highlights all of the volunteers in the Girls Hockey Association," said Martin as she accepted her award. "It is my desire that our community continues to create space (not just in sports) for our youth that leads to opportunity and activities."
Martin said her volunteer work can sometimes be taxing for her and her family because of long hours.
"On difficult days, I only have to head to the rink and see the passion of the players ... to know giving a little of yourself is with a lot to someone else," said Martin.
Norman Wingrove received a Companion to the Order of Collingwood, which is given to someone who received an order of Collingwood and who continues to volunteer to improve the community.
Wingrove received the Order of Collingwood in 2010. Since then he continued to volunteer with the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation and the Bruce Trail Club. He has dedicated volunteer time to advocating for protection of the environment in Collingwood and advocating for development that does not negatively harm Collingwood's watershed.
He regularly organizes events for volunteers to remove invasive phragmites, and often presents to council to offer recommendations on better protection for Collingwood's environment.
Wingrove said he's motivated to do the work he does, because he can see so many around him doing good work too.
"The Blue Mountain Watershed Trust is blessed by incredible volunteers," said Wingrove. "They have been my inspiration and I am thankful."
You can watch the Order of Collingwood presentations and Mayor's Levee online here.