ARTHUR – Bonny McDougall finds it “shocking” that she is this year’s recipient of Wellington North’s Senior of the Year award.
Mayor Andy Lennox presented the award to McDougall on April 21 at the Arthur and Area Community Centre before a room of roughly 200 residents and volunteers.
Part of the provincial Honours and Awards Program, the award provides municipalities the opportunity to nominate a community member over the age of 65 for official recognition.
McDougall was chosen by Wellington North council during a Feb. 21 meeting, with last week’s award presentation aligning with National Volunteer Week and the township’s annual Volunteer Celebration and Newcomer Welcome event.
“Volunteers are the social glue that holds our community together, builds our culture together, helps us feel like we belong, that we matter, that we’re important to each other,” Lennox said to loud applause before naming McDougall as this year’s award recipient.
“We’re so fortunate to have Bonny on our team; she’s involved in so many volunteer projects and organizations.”
Lennox described McDougall as “remarkable” and “warm-hearted.”
“I didn’t think I was doing that much,” McDougall told the Advertiser following the mayor’s remarks.
“I just do what I do.”
Volunteer work comes natural, she said, explaining it was a part of her upbringing.
McDougall’s first volunteer role when she was only seven years old involved decorating and polishing the silver and brass at a local church in Arthur, where she and six generations before her have grown up.
As her three children grew older, she began volunteering more as a way to give back to the community.
When her two sons began playing hockey, stepping into a volunteer role was a “given,” McDougall said.
She spent 26 years as an ice scheduler with Arthur Minor Hockey, and was also an Ontario Minor Hockey Association representative.
“These organizations are run by volunteers,” she remarked.
The list of organizations McDougall has given her time to runs long, but in more recent years it has included 4-H clubs, the Arthur Figure Skating Club, and the Upper Canada Two Cylinder Club.
McDougall has also photographed and documented thousands of headstones at the Mount Forest Cemetery.
“I did 3,800 and some stones,” she said. “Which has never been done.”She’s also responsible for bringing crocheted and knitted poppies to downtown Arthur for the Arthur 150 celebration.
She personally tied around 1,500 poppies to a 147-foot net, of which portions were mounted to the railings of the George Street bridge leading into the village, and other downtown locations.
“It gave new meaning the words ‘tie one on,’” she quipped.
These days she volunteers with the Arthur and Area Curling Club, the Arthur and Area Historical Society, and she chairs the Wellington North Cultural Roundtable.
A glinting treble clef pendant McDougall wears around her neck hints at another of her many volunteer contributions.
Residents at the Strathcona Long-Term Care Centre, and more recently the congregation at St. Paul’s United Church in Metz, as well as older adults at the Victoria Park Seniors Centre in Fergus, have all had the pleasure of listening to McDougall play violin, something she has done for around 35 years.
Now 66 years old, McDougall has more than four decades of volunteer experience – and she plans to keep going.
“As long as I can,” she said.