Ward 5 Hero: Eileen Hammill

Ward 5 Hero: Eileen Hammill

Locally, the history of the Guelph Public Library (GPL) is not told without mentioning the significant contributions of Eileen Hammill, a Board member for 30 years who retired in 2011. Eileen was always very well prepared for Board meetings, taking a businesslike approach to the many challenges facing the GPL. She was keen to hear about and research the latest trends in public libraries. Eileen understood that a free and accessible public library makes a significant difference in the lives of children and adults. In Eileen’s 30 years on the Board, the library increased its circulation from 400,000 to 1.8 million and grew from one location to six. The GPL was more successful than many other municipal libraries in the province. This was, in part, due to the strong leadership of board members like Eileen.

In the 1980’s Eillen played a lead role in the establishment of the Southern Ontario Library Service. In 1990, she was recognized as Trustee of the Year by the Ontario Public Library Association.

Eileen was and continues to be a strong advocate for a new main library in our Downtown. It is long overdue.

Eileen was also very interested in Guelph’s history and heritage buildings. In the 1960’s she served as the President of the Guelph Historical Society.

Thank you Eileen for your many years of determined and dedicated advocacy! Libraries matter! May your dream of a new home for our wonderful GPL be realized soon.

Ward 5 Heroes: Central Student Association

Ward 5 Heroes: Central Student Association

When we think of the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association (CSA), we usually think of the great advocacy work they do on behalf of students on issues like transit and housing. However, they take on many more issues that often extend into advocacy work that benefits the whole community. Connecting community and campus is a priority for Jay Rojas, the CSA’s new Local Affairs Commissioner.

Here is a list of just of few of the CSA’s advocacy initiatives:

  • Providing accessible and affordable reusable water bottles for community members
  • Starting a research initiative to better connect students with other community members
  • Collaborating with internal and external partners to ensure current and future campaigns, services, and activities are inclusive and accessible
  • Increasing awareness of CSA within the City of Guelph
  • Collecting 17,350 lbs of food for the Guelph Food Bank through Trick-or-Eat campaign
  • Providing a Lock4Lock campaign, where community members were abel to trade their old chain locks for a more secure U-Lock
  • Raising awareness of sexual violence and prevention
  • Providing community members with a safe and reliable escort to their destination after dark

More often our community needs to recognize the great partnership with have with the CSA. Thanks to the CSA for your advocacy work that benefits all of our residents!

In photo from right to left:

Jay Rojas, Local Affairs Commissioner; Zoey Ross, Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner; Meghan Wing, Academic & University Affairs Commissioner; Ryan Shoot, Finance & Operations Commissioner; Emily Vance, External Affairs Commissioner.

Ward 5 Hero: Lt. Col. John McCrae


Today is a fitting day to honour one of Guelph’s most celebrated hometown heroes — Lt. Col. John McCrae, physician, soldier, artist, scholar and poet.  As we honour our veterans across the world, the words of McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”echo in the background.  The image of the poppy is an international symbol of remembrance as a result of McCrae’s words, written on the back of a battlefield ambulance in 1915.

McCrae was born on Water Street in Ward 5 in 1872, the second son of Col. David McCrae and Janet McCrae.  The McCrae family were already well-established in Guelph.  John’s grandparents, Thomas and Jane(t) McCrae lived on the outskirts of Guelph at Janefield, a stone farmhouse still standing on College Avenue West.  He attended Central Public School and Guelph Collegiate Institute, before heading off to the University of Toronto to pursue post-secondary studies.

McCrae had a solid military background training with the Guelph 11th Field regiment and served in the artillery during the Second Boer War.  During World War 1 he served as a surgeon, and while stationed with the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne, he contracted pneumonia and died January 28, 1918.

McCrae is more than just a Ward 5 hero, he is Canada’s hero and his powerful words remain immortal around the world a century after they were written.


Ward 5 Hero: Norah Chaloner

Ward 5 Hero: Norah Chaloner

Norah is a longtime community advocate for the environment, social justice, food security and democracy. Wherever these issues are being championed you find Norah working diligently out front and behind the scenes to ensure the effectiveness of the advocacy work on matters close to her heart. As her nominator has said, “What is there to say? Norah has worked so hard on so many different areas of advocacy to make our neighbourhood, city and country a better place.” To name a few, Norah was a founding board member of the Guelph Urban Forest Friends and continues to work with the Wellington Water Watchers and the Council of Canadians-Guelph. Much of her time these days is spent turning the Yorklands Green Hub vision into a reality. You can read about her efforts at yorklanksgreenhub.ca . We would like to thank Norah for her passion, wisdom and commitment to the betterment of our community!


Old University Neighbourhood Residents Association Fall Meeting

It’s time the Fall General Meeting
Plan to Attend
at Harcourt United Church
on Thursday, Nov 10 at 7 pm
We will be welcoming a guest speaker, Tom Klein Beernink, Manager of Campus Coop Housing.

We will also open the floor for questions to the Exec Committee about issues focused on the neighbourhood.

And there will be the usual Councillors’ Corner where Leanne Piper and Cathy Downer bring us up to date on City matters and respond to questions from the floor.

Come and find out what is happening in your neighbourhood!

Ward 5 Hero: Virginia Gillham

Ward 5 Hero: Virginia Gillham

Well, it is difficult to know where to begin! Virginia has done so much to make a difference in our great city and beyond.

Virginia Gillham is a passionate advocate for the Guelph Public Library. As a founding member and Chair of the Friends of the Guelph Public Library she leads the very successful annual book sale which now raises over an amazing $100,000. She is determined and tireless. Every year it looks as though the Friends of the GPL may not have a location for the sale, and every year she finds one. She just won’t take no for an answer – definitely a force to be reckoned with!

Virginia, along with her husband Bob, was instrumental in the creation of the Guelph Youth Music Centre where she became one of the founding Board Members once the doors opened. She is still involved to this day raising funds as the co-chair of the Celebrity Concert Series.

Skate Canada is also the recipient of Virginia’s commitment to community service. She is a highly respected National Judge and Referee. Locally, Virginia has volunteered with the Guelph Figure Skating Club.

Virginia has served on many local boards and committees including Wellington County Children’s Aid Society, Edward Johnson Foundation, Dunara Group Homes, Guelph Chapter of the Federation of University Women and St Andrew’s Church.

Thank you Virginia for your many efforts to make Guelph a great place to call home!

This weekend is the 10th Annual Book Sale, Oct 21st to 23rd at 69 Huron St..
Information here: http://friendsguelphlibrary.ca/book-sale-2016/

Ward 5 Hero: Ajay Heble

After 23 years as artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival, Ward 5 resident Ajay Heble figuratively hung up his signature beret and passed the torch on this aspect of his life.  As founder of the award-winning festival, and in his role as the founding director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) at the University of Guelph, Heble has put Guelph on the map as a destination for the world’s best jazz musicians and social research on improvisation.


Ajay Heble, Founding Director of the Guelph Jazz Festival.  Image from today.mun.ca. 

The Guelph Jazz Festival is a three-time recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of the Arts, and winner of the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.   Starting an annual music festival is not just about the music — it also requires leadership to motivate and mobilize and team of volunteers, marketing, business entrepreneurship, grant-writing and an ear for “inspired and provocative” musical talent.   Under Heble’s direction, the Jazz Festival has attracted some of the world’s best to our city and has “delighted aficionados from around the world with his innovative and daring programming”.

Heble is also an accomplished musician in his own right, which he shared at a closing concert on the final day of the 2016 festival.  Thankfully, his vision is deeply embedded in the Jazz Festival culture and will be felt well beyond his “retirement”.   For his contributions to the arts and academic excellence, we are proud to highlight  Ajay Heble as this week’s Ward 5 Hero.