Renaissance Brome Lake instituted this award to publicly recognize the remarkable contribution of an individual, a group of citizens, an organization, an activity or a project that seeks to improve the quality of the water in Brome Lake and its ecosystems and wetlands, whether through the restoration or conservation of ecosystems and vulnerable areas, promoting community awareness and public education about sound environmental practices, or enhancing the eco-tourism potential of the territory.
2016: The Fisher-Kerrigan Family
Five generations of Fisher-Kerrigans have lived – and still do – on the shores of Brome Lake. During this considerable period of time they have helped sustain the evolution of the lake and its ecosystems and, more globally, our community in general. In 1873, Sydney Arthur Fisher, acquired a vast tract of land of some 400 acres on the eastern shore of the lake, to the north and south of Fisher Point, extending east to the limit of the Township of West Bolton. The condos situated at 400 Lakeside today are part of this territory. Quickly under the leadership of Mr. Fisher, well-known farmer and political figure, the farm became a model in its day. Its operations revolved around the use of emerging scientific methods and it was certainly the embryo for the network of experimental farms across Canada.
At the time of his death in 1921, Sydney Fisher had created a philanthropic fund for the purpose of youth education and rural life, two values he deeply believed in. In today’s dollars his investment would amount to about $1million. Ninety-five years later, in 2016, the fund still exists and annually awards bursaries to students. His nephew Philip inherited the house, known as Alva House, and a large piece of the property. Alva Farm and the balance of the property was bequeathed to his farm manager, Arthur Carter. A World War 1 aviator and hero, Philip Fisher had a profound attachment to Brome Lake. He wanted to protect it and was probably one of the first to sail on its waters. From 1969 to 1992 he (and then, his son John) took daily measurements of the level of the lake, to help better manage it. In 1941, Philip Fisher was an important player in the renovation of the Foster Dam along with the Southern Canada Power Company; the renovated dam helped better control the level of the lake.
He and his wife, Margaret Linton Southam had six children. Several of these children built homes along the shores of the lake near their maternal home, Alva House and still live there today. Among these is Claire Fisher. Mrs. Fisher, who holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from McGill University has always applied her skills and talents to help those less fortunate in our community. This was the model of community action that eventually inspired the creation of the CLSC network. Mrs. Fisher was also the founding ”soul” of the town newspaper Tempo of which today she is still one of its most committed contributors. It was in this same community spirit that the Brome Lake Conservation Association was created and Peter Kerrigan, husband of Claire, became its first president. The organization spared no effort to help improve the quality of the lake most notably its campaign for the installation of a municipal waste disposal network, which didn’t see the light of day until 1974 after the 1971 merger.
In 1996, Philip’s other two daughters, Sydney Duder and Martha Hallward, donated a significant portion of its original lands to conservation in perpetuity. This is an exceptional wooded area of some 80 acres today known as Boisé Fisher Woods, donated to the Brome Lake Land Foundation and which serves as an outdoor haven for those who like to walk amid natural surroundings. Even today, many members of the Fisher-Kerrigan family are found near Brome Lake and at least five of them actively support the protection of the lake. We are pleased today to recognize the exceptional contribution of the Fisher-Kerrigan family to the quality of life the entire community enjoys and for their contribution to the protection of Brome Lake and its ecosystems.