It was an afternoon of memories and a time to reflect on the legacy of Archie MacRobbie.
On April 27, a dedication ceremony was held to name the main hall of the Puslinch community centre after long-time politician Archie MacRobbie.
The hall was nearly packed with local residents, friends and politicians. Dignitaries were piped in by current township councillor Matthew Bulmer prior to a welcome by Jim McMillan, chairman of the Puslinch recreation commission.
McMillan said MacRobbie was well known locally and outside the area.
He said MacRobbie was known for his many interests, including local government, the agricultural society, conservation authority, horses, and plowmanship, hosting the International Plowing Match, antiques, supporting the local service clubs, and he was instrumental in forming the local Optimist Club.
At the same time, MacRobbie operated a trucking company, and during semi-retirement, he was involved in farming as well.
“Archie helped make Puslinch a better place,” he said.
Last October, the recreation committee first considered the idea of naming the hall after MacRobbie. McMillan said, the final decision was made by council.
“They decided it would be a good idea … and that is why we are here today.”
He noted one dignitary, Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong, in the audience. Puslinch Mayor Brad Whitcombe commented that Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott was on his way – having to deal with a special session at Queen’s Park to get the TTC back on track.
Whitcombe welcomed the many people who came out “to celebrate Archie’s life. The majority of you know Archie.
“I first met him in the foyer [of this hall] in 1988 at an all-candidate’s night,” which was Whitcombe’s first run at council.
He said the hall was packed, and there were people in the foyer and out the door. He described MacRobbie walking through the crowd shaking hands with his firm grip.
Seeing Whitcombe, MacRobbie said, “This is a man I don’t know.”
Later on, they knew each other very well.
“He had a gruff exterior, but a wonderful heart,” Whitcombe said. “I miss him every day.”
One piece of advice MacRobbie gave him over the years was “To tell people the truth. They might not appreciate it now – but would thank you for it later.”
MacRobbie later retired as reeve to make way for Whitcombe to head the township and sit on county council. Later,the pair served together when MacRobbie was directly elected Wellington County councillor while Whitcombe was there as mayor of Puslinch.
“I was proud to serve with him.”
In one Whitcombe’s last talks with MacRobbie shortly before his death, the pair talked about construction of the Glen Allan bridge … a project which had been on the books since the time MacRobbie first served on Wellington County council.
Rev. Wayne Schiedel spoke on the life of Archie MacRobbie 1932 – 2006.
“Between the dates is a dash. For some, the dash is fairly short, for others it long because of a lifetime of achievements.”
Schiedel quoted the Wellington Advertiser’s front page story by reporter David Meyer, of July 28, 2006, which stated “He said things other politicians would fear to even think – and his blunt style turned John “Archie” MacRobbie into a legend in his home Township of Puslinch and in Wellington County, and beyond.”
Rev. Schiedel added that MacRobbie was also a legend through his service to the community. One of the most touching memories he had was of a few weeks after the tragic death of MacRobbie’s son in 2001.
“Who appeared at our door … but Archie. He had very little to say, but cried with us.
“Puslinch is a great community, and we can thank Archie for that. If Archie sensed a need, and the cause was just, he would ensure that help was there.”
During the candlelight ceremony Rev. Schiedel and members of Puslinch council dedicated the hall stating, “in lighting these candles we remember John Archibald MacRobbie and dedicate this hall in his honour, accepting with gratitude, the legacy he left to us as a community.”