In Retrospect – Winter 2023

In the final instalment from our archives, we’ve selected a number of stories that embody the kindness and the neighbourly compassion that has helped our small towns grow and flourish.

November 27, 2023 | | Community

In each issue this year we’ve been celebrating In The Hills’ 30th anniversary by digging into the archives to look back at some of the themes that have populated our pages over the past three decades. So far those stories have reflected how some of our local preoccupations have evolved in a generation. For this last entry, we’ve chosen stories that exemplify the neighbourly compassion that remains the bedrock of our community.

Click on the images or links below to read the full story online.

2013 – A Place Like Home

“That man was William Perkins Bull and the reason [officer Grant] McKeough – and hundreds of soldiers like him – wanted to say thank you was that Perkins Bull and his wife, Maria, had carved out a circle of sunshine for Canadian boys in the terrible gloom of World War I. They had set up a hospital, one like no other … The reason the Perkins Bull Hospital for Convalescent Canadian Officers was so unanimously treasured by the men who stayed there was that the project didn’t start out as a hospital. It began as a home away from home.” Read more.

2022 – Land Acknowledgements Decoded

“We’ve all heard land acknowledgments. Read aloud at everything from hockey games to municipal council meetings, these statements recognize the enduring relationships of Canada’s first peoples with their traditional territory … The release in 2015 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action highlighted 94 steps that must be taken to right centuries of wrongs and restore awareness of the defining role of Indigenous peoples in the history of Canada. The oral repetition of land acknowledgments is intended to promote mindful reflection, encouraging people to ask questions and educate themselves as a positive first step on the road to reconciliation.”
Read more. 

2017 – Transgender in Headwaters

“Olive Pascal: ‘There’s some wisdom I like to live my life by – always assume someone is stupid rather than evil. They aren’t doing it on purpose. They’re doing it because they’re misinformed. There are going to be a few evil people out there that just want to see other people in misery, but that’s rarely the case.'”  Read more.

2020 – Up To The Task

“That key blueprints for institutional change are coming from a small rural town north of Toronto, one often perceived as very conservative, is a point of pride for [deputy mayor Steve] Anderson. “If you got the press release from Brampton or Toronto, that makes sense,” he says. ‘But for a rural town to be leading the charge? It takes people to lead by example and it takes large parts of the community buying in. People are now standing and taking note about the great work we are doing in the town of Shelburne to make our community safe, prosperous and welcoming to all.'” Read more.

2020 – Pandemic Journals

“Shelburne mayor Wade Mills: ‘It was the night of March 11th when something changed for me. Until then it had seemed as though the ‘novel coronavirus’ was somewhat of a distant threat … That was the day the World Health Organization officially declared a global pandemic …  Suddenly we were dealing with challenges and issues that required all of us in leadership positions to act quickly, decisively, and creatively. Among the many challenges we have faced, however, none hit me as hard as the absolutely tragic situation that unfolded at the Shelburne Residence. The extent of the outbreak and the loss of life seemed unimaginable, and the collective grief shared by our community is something that will long endure.'” Read more.

2011 – Empty Plates

“It’s not uncommon … to see people who haven’t eaten in three days. The worst [Pastor Kerry Duffield of The Lighthouse in Orangeville] has seen is someone who hadn’t eaten in five … ‘You have to decide what your motivation is when you start feeding people, and for us that has nothing to do with what sort of people they are.’ Besides, ‘if you don’t know the person, you can’t judge their situation.’ Instead, he says, ‘We think of it as a gift of love. We try to give people the message that we care about you and we won’t have anybody starve.’” Read more.

2009 – The Day the Arrow Died

“On February 20, 1959, the Diefenbaker government in Ottawa abruptly cancelled the Avro Arrow project. At four in the afternoon a blunt announcement came over loudspeakers at the Avro plant. Workers were to return their tools, remove all their personal belongings, and not expect to come back. My parents were both instantly unemployed. The Orangeville Banner reported that ‘approximately 3,000 people surrounding Orangeville have been affected by the layoffs.’ A committee of Orangeville-area ex-Avro workers was formed, with the aim of addressing people’s housing and employment needs. Read more. 

2009 – For Home and Country

“The list of the Women’s Institutes’ achievements since their beginnings in 1897 is awe-inspiring. Even so, WI members seem strangely reluctant to toot their own horns, and many of their accomplishments go unsung. As a once-prominent Ontario politician put it: ‘These women can nail down a project as well as any Rotary or Lions club. They just make less noise doing it!’

Words to live by

This prayer, known as the “Mary Stewart Collect,” has been recited in unison by thousands of women at WI meetings over the decades. In that time, the collect has lost none of its relevance as a guiding set of principles for daily life.

“Keep us, O Lord, from pettiness;
let us be large in thought and deed.
Let us be done with fault finding
and leave off self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense
and meet each other face to face,
Without self-pity and
without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgment
and always generous.
Let us take time for all things;
make us grow calm, serene, gentle.
Teach us to put into action our
better impulses, straightforward
and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize that
it is the little things that create
the differences, that in the
big things in life, we are one.
And may we strive to touch and
know the great human heart,
common to us all, and, O Lord,
let us not forget to be kind.”
Read more. 

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