God save the Queen

Her majesty recently celebrated 70 years of service to the Commonwealth.

To place that in context, a typical person may have a work life somewhere in the range of 35-50 years. She has surpassed that standard with grace and perseverance. At the age of 95, it is little wonder of recent announcements that her work schedule will now slow down. It is a distinction most living people will never again see in their lifetimes.

Although the school year is over, we desperately hoped to have seen some action on the part of school boards to educate and indeed celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Distracted, perhaps indifferent, busy with all things except honouring the head of state’s anniversary, the inaction of the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board was disappointing but not surprising. As a young student in the 1970s we can recall the singing of the royal anthem and remember most classrooms displaying a portrait of the Queen. Today, well…. we have the audacity to wonder why so many people neither respect nor understand the institutions under which they are governed.

Predictable, however, was the recognition by county council last week of our Monarch’s Platinum Jubilee. At Wellington County council’s end-of-month meeting, Warden Kelly Linton made note of the milestone and shared with his audience numerous artifacts and bits of history associated with the Queen and the county. A fabled signature in the county guest book during a visit to the Royal City (Guelph) in 1959 was on display. A story of the Queen arriving by train where she side-stepped the red carpet in favour of walking and visiting with her subjects was told.

To end the distinguished ceremony, councillor Chris White offered up a toast to the Queen, a right and proper thing to do from our perspective. 

We understand councillor Jeff Duncan was involved in other organizations ensuring the Queen was remembered.

As noted by Warden Linton that day and conceded here, not everyone is a fan of the monarchy. Plenty of friends and acquaintances are indifferent to it all. The Queen over there, Head of State here, represented in Canada by the Governor General – it has every appearance of being an unneeded element of a functioning democracy. Stemming from those arguments is the question – what to replace the monarchy with and how? Conversations quickly turn when that proposition is tabled because it is quickly recognized those discussions would upend many of the institutions associated with our current parliamentary democracy.

For this moment in time, let us just admire the Queen and appreciate her decades’ long service to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. It is a feat few alive will ever witness again.

Speaking of commitment

Life is all about decisions. What we decide today impacts tomorrow and so on.

One of the architects of Wellington County’s Green Legacy program used to start his speeches with the phrase “cast yourself back.” Brad Whitcombe used to like tying yesterday in with today, fully realizing today has a great bearing on tomorrow. 

The other notable architect of that era was Scott Wilson, county CAO. While neither man would have cause to suspect their efforts would have resulted in three million trees being planted in the space of 18 years, their efforts speak to the importance of having a vision and making decisions. 

Had one or the other chose to get busy with something else and not push the venture, Wellington would be in the same spot as so many other places that dithered and failed to act. 

Instead, the county has the distinction of being one of the largest municipal tree planting programs in North America.

Over that span of time, numerous wardens and dozens of councillors have served in Wellington and supported this initiative. Thousands of residents have subscribed to the ideal of enhancing the green canopy that shelters and nurtures over 435,000 hectares contained within its borders.

The Green Legacy is a great example of what happens when people today, commit to tomorrow.