An artful celebration of public service
We’re fond of dissing our politicians, and don’t find them trustworthy – an Ipsos-Reid poll last year found that only 17 per cent of Canadians really trust municipal politicians. How delightful, then, to attend the celebration of our municipal politicians at the packed Cates Chapel on Friday, January 27, and observe the high level of esteem in which our politicians are held on this barnacle-encrusted rock we call home.
Not only was this a celebration of Bob Turner and the work he did so conscientiously as mayor of Bowen, it was a tribute also to a number of his colleagues who gave countless hours of their time and many weekends preparing for council business. But it was more than that: it was a truly Bowen experience. Where else would the mayor’s terms be recognised in song? Where else would a political career be summed up as a performance poem? In what other context would an OCP be considered an intimate part of our life?
Graham Ritchie was the charming ringmaster as a number of Bowen residents recalled meeting Bob. The stories usually revealed not only a curious mind full of wonder about our natural environment but also a patient personality who would always take time to explain to his fellows, from kindergarten through high schoolers to adults, how Bowen is constructed and how its natural environment works. Sue-Ellen Fast recalled Bob “jumping out of a bush” and helping her teach youngsters on a forest walk.
Several had met him hiking, or seen him swimming around his adopted island which he knows better than most of us. A few worked closely with him in council; as Kathy Lalonde, the corporate officer for BIM recalled, “I can attest to how much of himself Bob gave to Bowen - unstintingly and unselfishly. Bob is my definition of what a true leader is all about - he led by example. He provided much needed leadership to staff when we needed it the most. It was a true honour to work with mayor Bob Turner.”
A number of islanders were soaking up the sun, or otherwise unable to attend. Lisa Barrett, Bowen’s first mayor, said she knew how it feels to retire from council. In her email, she recalled giving Bob a hand when he was canoeing blindfolded at Bowfest. In her words, “It was a case of the blind leading the blonde.”
Musicians adapted well-known songs and we quickly learned to sing along. We heard musical offerings from Chris Corrigan, Pauline LeBel, Lyn, Emily and Everhard van Lidth de Jeude. Corbin Keep gave us “On top of Mount Gardner” to a familiar smoky tune and considered how the island might have fared under different Turners, such as Billy-Bob or Robert Turner.
A panel game, “Identify the Issue”, saw Graham Ritchie moderating, Nerys Poole and Doug Hooper miming clues for Messrs. Turner, Frinton and Wrinch to recall some of the contentious problems facing council over the last few years.
Lisa Shatzky delivered a passionate ode recreating her experience of municipal service: “Bob was captain of the good ship Bowen Island for six years and I served with him for three... and oh, those windy and wild and long Monday nights, what fun we had, what fun we had, I think I might miss them one day but not yet, not yet…”
And the proceeds of the event went to support the Snug Cove House. It seems politics and volunteering are not altogether thankless tasks, at least not on Bowen Island.
special to the Undercurrent