Sault Ste. Marie building dedicated to former mayor
SUDBURY -- A dedication ceremony was held in Sault Ste. Marie Monday to celebrate a name change for city hall in honour of a former mayor and politician.
The city building has been renamed the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre in recognition of his public service and contribution to the community and country.
Irwin served as a city councillor and mayor in Sault Ste. Marie, helping with the waterfront redevelopment and relocation of city hall to its current location. He was the mayor in 1974 when construction on the municipal facility was finished and opened to the public.
"In the 70s, Sault Ste. Marie was commencing urban renewal, with a concentration on the waterfront,” said Irwin. "I remember that from Clergue Park, looking westerly, the waterfront was a mix of industrial and commercial uses. I spent the mayoralty campaign carting a foam model from meeting to meeting, doing my best to convince people of the waterfront’s potential. On Jan. 8, 1973, I contacted all former mayors still living, Jim McIntyre, Alec Harry and John Rhodes. We went down to the old ferry dock site and turned the sod. Getting City Hall to the waterfront was only the beginning.”
The Sault native was born in 1936 and is reportedly the only political leader to have served as a school board trustee, city councillor, Member of Parliament, privy councillor, ambassador and consul general.
Irwas served as Canada's Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development from 1993-1997. He was an MP for two terms, 1980-1984 and 1993-1997.
Irwin was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1975 and awarded the Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit in 1999.
"The people have been fantastic and say nice things and it's different to go down there and see my name on the front of the building. It's quite an honour, but you know, we did a lot of work with council to clean up that waterfront. It was a mess, an industrial mess. The council deserves most of that credit. I was on it, I was the mayor," said Irwin.
"Ron Irwin has a long and impressive record of serving both his community and his country," said current Mayor Christian Provenzano. "Wherever he was and whatever he was doing in his many roles, he represented the best qualities of our community: hard working, resilient and determined. The rededication of City Hall in his name is a fitting tribute to his legacy and his contribution."
"Over the years I have been fortunate to have served Sault Ste. Marie and Canada in many capacities," said Irwin. "Perhaps the answer to why seek public office is as simple as that. The reward is in the doing."