The sun peeked out of the clouds Saturday, Sept. 26, to join the McKellar community in honouring the 2020 Senior of the Year.
McKellar Mayor Peter Hopkins and 23 others — socially distanced, of course — met in the parking lot of the community centre to present longtime volunteer Michael Corson with the certificate.
“I could spend a lot of time itemizing this person’s many and diversified ways to help not only in McKellar but in the area, the province and country at large,” said Hopkins during his presentation speech.
Corson, 82, began volunteering 65 years ago, according to Hopkins, when Corson moved out west to “become a cowboy.”
“His first ‘volunteer’ experience is when his boss nominated him to round up the other cowboys after a sojourn to the wet bar in the neighbouring territory,” he said. “Being a non-drinker, he was sent to secure them to their saddles and bring them home.”
As his cowboy career progressed, he was also volunteered to guard the “refreshments” during western outfitting and riding tours — where he also learned the cure for “snow snakes.”
Ultimately, Corson returned to Ontario, Hopkins said, adding that “he heard the call of the north and saw the beauty of the environment, the trees, water and sky.”
In 1993, Corson bought a cottage in McKellar but wouldn’t move to the area until 2005.
“Love of nature was his true church and cathedral,” said Hopkins before he listed Corson’s contributions to the McKellar environment, quality of life and community spirit.
Some of his achievements and contributions include:
· Being a member of the Georgian Bay Stewardship Committee, where he worked to protect the provincial fish and moose population.
· Creating the McKellar Butterfly Garden with the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve.
· Being a long-standing member of the McKellar Conservation Association, where he spent hours restocking lakes and building spawning beds/hatcheries.
· Planting thousands of trees on local properties and being custodian of the Longhorn Conservation Association.
· Being an active member of McKellar’s Lake Stewardship and Ad Hoc Committee.
· Being the former president of Parry Sound Anglers and Hunters.
· Volunteering for the McKellar Recreation Committee.
In his spare time, Hopkins noted, Corson was a key member of local, provincial and federal election campaigns.
“I personally thank him for his ongoing support for my position as mayor,” he said.
Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller was supposed to be in attendance for the 2020 McKellar Senior of the Year award but sent his regrets.
For Corson, he said he wasn’t expecting the award.
“I’m honoured — it’s a real honour,” said Corson after receiving the award.
“I didn’t expect it, although, when I saw the mayor whispering in my wife’s ear, either figured she was going to run away with him or there was something coming up,” he said, laughing deeply.
Asked about the cure for snow snakes, Corson said that the cowboys would carry rum on their person.
“If we got bitten by a ‘snow snake,’ we just take a couple gulps of rum,” he said, adding that he enjoys working with the McKellar council.
“They’re all my heroes,” he said. “This is a get-it-done council with a get-it-done mayor.”
Satah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star