Craig Bakay | Jun 28, 2017
They went all-out in Cloyne Saturday to officially open Benny Lake Heritage Park, with several musical guests ranging from a First Nations drum group and the Pickled Chicken String Band, poetry readings and a host of politicians including Shabot Obaadjiwan Chief Doreen Davis, two MPs and two heads of council.
On Aug. 2, 2002 a microburst tore through downtown Cloyne, destroying a grove of 200-year-old white pines. The public space has been renewed as a joint project of the Township of North Frontenac, the Land O’Lakes Garden Club, Mazinaw-Lanark Forest Inc. and the Cloyne and District Historical Society. It now features a 5-foot-wide, 600-foot pathway constructed with stone dust with very little slope follow integrated accessibility standards. They also planted a lot of new pines
“If you come back in 150 years, it will be just as beautiful as it was several years ago,” said master of ceremonies J. J. (Red) Emond. “Today you’ll hear a lot of ‘I remember.’
“Let’s not forget the people that swung the axes, ate the food, the people that came before us.”
Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MP Scott Reid quickly picked up on the fact that this is Canada’s 150th birthday year.
“We have the third oldest written constitution in the world,” he said. “After the U.S. and the Swiss.
“And we were one of the first jurisdictions in the world to abolish slavery.”
Cloyne is a rather unique hamlet in that it straddles two federal jurisdictions split right down the main road (Hwy 41).
Cloyne’s other federal representative, Hastings-Lennox & Addington MP Mike Bossio said: “This is a valuable asset for Cloyne (and) it’s all about you.”
Cloyne also straddles two townships — Addington Highlands and North Frontenac.
Since the park is on the North Frontenac side, Mayor Ron Higgins got to cut the ribbon.
“This (Benny Lake Heritage Park) shows the dedication, hard work and perseverance of our volunteers,” Higgins said. “Thank you to Scott, Mike and MPP Randy Hillier for providing financial assistance.
“Before taking office, I didn’t realize the amount of work our volunteers do.
“I’m very proud of them.”
But perhaps the best speech came from Addington Highlands Reeve Henry Hogg. It was, in typical Hogg fashion, short and to the point.
“I live (literally) right across the street,” Hogg said. “I remember the devastation.
“Acknowledge the hard work the volunteers have done and have a good day.”
Before the proceedings got underway, Hogg recounted a bit of what that day in 2002 was like.
“I was there that day,” he said. “We must have lost 40 trees, it was a mess.
“I don’t know how it missed the little house right across the street.
“It wasn’t just us that the microburst hit, though, I have a friend on (Lake) Kash(wakamak) who had five buildings.
“There was a tree on each one of them.”