Generations of Ontarians have had the chance to experience and enjoy nature because of the vision and actions of Philip Gosling. More than 45 years ago, Philip worked with a few other people to plan and build a permanent hiking trail along the Niagara Escarpment – the Bruce Trail. He was a founding member of the Bruce Trail Association, which manages the trail to this day.
Philip believed that if the public could experience this remarkable landscape, they would appreciate its value and support its protection from the pressures of development. He was right. Today, the Bruce Trail is known as one of the greatest hiking trails in the world and a culture of preservation has taken root, with development controls in place to protect the Escarpment and other natural heritage areas across the province.
Philip’s nominator cites the Bruce Trail as the first of many examples of Philip’s “just do it” approach. This approach could be seen in Philip’s active involvement in the organization of Guelph’s trail system, in his founding donation to make the Gosling Gardens at the Arboretum a reality, his support of the Arboretum’s American Elm recovery project, and his significant donation to the RARE Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge. Recently, Philip launched the da Vinci Arts and Science Environmental Leadership Program, which enables grade 11 students to learn in a natural setting.
While he is most certainly a visionary, Philip is also a remarkable “doer.” For his decades of service, we owe him a debt of gratitude.
Netta Jackson has been putting smiles on the faces of local citizens for more than two decades. She has been a volunteer at the Evergreen Seniors Centre since it opened its doors in 1991, and volunteered at the Delhi Centre before that. Netta helps her fellow seniors stay active by teaching line dancing at the Evergreen Centre. She also visits homebound seniors to teach them an enjoyable and safe fitness program, as a dedicated volunteer for the Feeling Better in-home exercise program.
Netta also volunteers in the dining room at Evergreen as a cashier and hostess, and helps with the Guelph-Wellington Seniors Association’s Fantasy Show, a popular annual event that features singing, dancing, and comedy.
In addition to her work at the Evergreen Centre, Netta has been a regular and active volunteer at the Guelph General Hospital for many years. She was honoured for her positive contribution to the well-being of patients and families in 1999, when she was named the Hospital’s Volunteer of the Year.
Netta is a senior herself but shows no sign of slowing down. With her energy, warm smile, and commitment to helping others, she is a treasured volunteer at the Evergreen Centre and Guelph General Hospital.
This year, Ingrid MacRae is honoured with a special posthumous award. Ingrid was well-known for her work at Wyndham House, Women in Crisis, Fresh Start, and particularly the Welcome In Drop-In Centre where she spent the better part of two decades, first as a volunteer and more recently as a staff member. She was also a dedicated member of the Wellington-Guelph Housing Committee. As her nominator wrote, in the social services community in Guelph you only had to say “Ingrid” and everyone knew who you were talking about.
Ingrid was a fierce advocate for disadvantaged people, insisting they be treated with respect and given the services needed to live life to their full potential. Countless people in our community were able to access services and housing because of Ingrid’s help. With compassion and respect, she helped people navigate the social service system so that they could get the support they needed. Sister Christine Leyser told the Guelph Mercury, “She just helped people live a better life.”
Ingrid made our community a better place by being a champion for people who society all too often gives up on or casts aside. There is no doubt that she made a remarkable difference in our community.
The two people who wrote letters of nomination for local running coach John Marsden used a number of words to describe him: supportive, genuine, motivating, approachable, positive, and generous.
When his own coach and mentor, the legendary Victor Matthews, passed away suddenly in 2004, John kept Matthews’ running group together and proposed they rename themselves the Guelph Victors in his memory. Today, John volunteers several hours a week coaching the Victors, which now has more than 100 runners and walkers as members. He is also race director for the Thanksgiving Day Races and the Guelph Athletics Society running series, and writes a bi-weekly column in the Guelph Mercury.
John’s approach in all of his endeavours is one of inclusion and encouragement. In his own words, he will “work with anyone who shows up.” He has made a special effort to encourage participation in young people. John motivates people of all skill levels to be active and healthy, to strive for personal achievement, and to have a good time while they’re doing it. In the words of his nominator, “He makes us all feel like special athletes, whether we are winning races, breaking records, or simply participating.”
In an era when inactivity and obesity are a major public health concern in Canada, Guelph is fortunate indeed to have John Marsden in our community.
Terry O’Connor has played an active role in the Guelph and District Labour Council for decades, and currently serves as its President. He is a strong advocate for the improved economic and social well-being of workers, and a powerful local voice on many social justice issues, including poverty, affordable housing, and health, safety and quality of life.
Terry is also active in the Guelph-Wellington Coalition for Social Justice, which is committed to social justice and environmental improvement through research, education and advocacy.
Terry has been instrumental in organizing the annual Day of Mourning event, which is an opportunity for citizens to remember and honour workers who have died or suffered injuries or disease on the job. He also organizes the annual Labour Day picnic at Riverside Park.
As Guelph experiences the effects of the economic downturn, Terry has worked harder than ever to provide a voice for working people. He is a trusted advocate and resource for employees who are facing layoffs and uncertainty. He has urged governments to provide stimulus funding and strengthen the social safety net. As his nominator remarked, “Terry does not shy away from the hard work needed to make Guelph make a difference.”