Reflections on a Royal Ceremony

June 19, 2014   ·   0 Comments

The sun shone proudly on Shelburne June 12th as the Honourable David C. Onley, Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, was welcomed to the statue unveiling of the Town’s founding father, William Jelly, in celebration of Shelburne’s 150th Anniversary. Artist Kane Sibley’s wood carving of the town’s founder, was approved by Shelburne Council in February of this year, and now the tavern owner from long ago, stands in his rightful place welcoming visitors to Jack Downing Park in an apron, holding a tray and pouring a drink. Mayor Crewson delivered the speech that follows in honour of the occasion:

“I ask that you close your eyes for a moment and imagine with me the smells and sounds of the forest that would have surrounded us two life-times ago when William jelly, came here in 1864. Smell the leaves and the moss; hear the birds and the bugs and visualize the rabbits and deer and the other forest animals amongst the trees. There were no highways, no sidewalks, no vehicles and only three log cabins. Two concessions east there was a tavern owned by Justice of the Peace William Hall. The closest settlement of any size was Horning’s Mills, three concessions northeast. On this spot, amongst the trees and the wildlife, 150 years ago, William Jelly decided to build a tavern. Why here? Who would be the patrons of his tavern? The owners of the three log cabins must have had good appetites and steady thirsts to support William Jelly’s British-Canadian Hotel because the business survived.”

The Lieutenant Governor arrived around noon, greeted by the Shelburne Cadets, Police, political dignitaries and a welcoming crowd. Speakers included master of ceremonies, Councillor A.J. Cavey, David Tilson M.P., Dufferin County Warden Bill Hill, Mayor Ed Crewson, and the Lt. Governor, His Honour David Onley. The gathering around Jack Downing Park for the ceremony in honour of their founding father, included Shelburne’s own V.I.P. Alice Porter who met the Lieutenant Governor in 2010 when he presented her with the Order of Ontario for her many years of service in Shelburne and 35 years overseas as a nurse in India.

The energetic Ms. Porter did not want to miss the ceremony as she says she has a great admiration for the Lieutenant Governor, whom she spoke of as “a good person, and quietly such a good ambassador for persons differently abled.” Ms. Porter gave high marks to the Town for a job well done, “ I appreciated the well planned and carried out program, including the P.A. system so that all could hear.”

Mayor Edward Crewson spent some time with the Lieutenant Governor and found him to be “very engaging; asking questions about the community and our citizens.” Warden Bill Hill, who delivered greetings from the County of Dufferin at the Royal Ceremony, later reflected on the Lieutenant Governor as “very gracious,” taking time “to meet with some of the students that just returned from Juno Beach, as well as elementary students that had been chosen to represent their schools because they had excelled at volunteerism.” Centennial Hylands Elementary School , Hyland Heights Elementary, Glenbrook Elementary, and Centre Dufferin District High School were all represented by students who had done significant volunteer work either in the community or within the school program.

Dufferin-Caledon M.P. David Tilson sent this statement to the Free Press, “It was a great privilege to represent the federal government at the Royal Ceremony in Shelburne this past weekend and to be on the same platform as His Honour The Lieutenant Governor for The Province of Ontario. Together we celebrated 150 years since the founding of Shelburne, by William Jelly, by unveiling a statue of the founder overlooking the Town Hall.”

“Five years after the founding of Shelburne, the 1869 Ontario Gazette tells us that the British-Canadian Hotel was surrounded by two blacksmith shops, a shinglemaker, a carpenter, a brickyard, a shoemaker, a manufacturer of woolen goods, a hat maker, a general merchant and a school,” continued Mayor Crewson. “In that year of 1869, the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway Company was formed, and began planning the construction of a rail line to pass through this community. In June of 1873, when the first train arrived,the hospitality given by William Jelly to the reporters and dignitaries making that maiden voyage to Owen Soun, prompted many to choose to stay here overnight, and participate in the revelry, rather than continuing the trip to Owen Sound.

In 1879, Shelburne was incorporated as a village and the citizens elected William Jelly as the first head of municipal council. In 1880, the wooden structures along Main Street, including the tavern built by William Jelly,were replaced by solid brick structures; some are still here today. On October 20, 1900,William Jelly died, having served 18 years as head of Shelburne Council and one term as Dufferin County’s member of Provincial Parliament. The village he had founded had become a thriving market and manufacturing centre with a population in excess of 1000 people.”

“Having been a journalist, the Lieutenant Governor has a charm that puts people at ease and a natural interest and care about people that provides a humanity to a vice-regal position,” commented the Mayor. “This was quite evident at the reception that followed the dedication ceremony when he conversed with the service club reps and the students.

Appointed as Lieutenant Governor following his broadcaster career, His Honour David C. Onley, who has post polio syndrome, has championed accessibility in his life and as Lt. Governor. The Midland native, who grew up in Scarborough, believes that accessibility is “that which enables people to reach our full potential,” and as such his mandate has included equal opportunities such as education, including the Aboriginal Youth Literacy Initiative.

The Lt. Governor said that he had learned much about the importance of community volunteers in the seven years of his position. He honoured the volunteerism of two of Shelburne’s treasured WWII veterans, Ken Wallace and Don Khol, with Lieutenant Governor’s community volunteer pins for their work as volunteers and involvement in spearheading the “Lost Soldiers Fund.”

Researching William Jelly has given Mayor Crewson a greater appreciation for Shelburne’s founding father; “what struggles he must have faced in turning a forest lot into a thriving community. As Mayor, I feel sometimes that the hurtles I face are insurmountable, but when I compare them to the ones he faced, my challenges are smaller. I hope the statue of William Jelly and the plaque that outlines his life will inspire pride amongst our citizens, because our founding father was a man of grace and ambition and vision, and in so doing foster a desire in their hearts and actions to adopt such noble qualities. Public service should be inspired by our desire to serve others and William Jelly dedicated his life to serving others either in his tavern and in his role as community leader.”

“William Jelly’s hospitality and warmth, his ambition and vision inspired those people to come to this place in the forest. In keeping with William Jelly’s hospitalilty and warmth, we… honour and pay tribute to the father and founder of Shelburne. May the warmth of his hospitality, the enthusiasm of his ambition, and the creativity of his vision be memorialized by this statue, and inspire us to honour his traditions and fulfill his dream.” – Mayor Edward Crewson.

By Marni Walsh



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