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Recognition Award

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.

2018: Marc E. Decelles

Marc E. Decelles was unsurpassed as a “lifetime”  local environmental leader and one of the most eminent citizens in the region devoted to protecting Brome Lake and its wetlands. We are grateful to pay tribute to his memory in the presence of his partner Micheline Croteau, who supported him throughout his endeavours as well as being a strong volunteer for many community causes herself, including even today, our local Tempomonthly bulletin.

We all know to what degree Marc Decelles defended the quality of the water in Brome Lake. His crotchety character, no doubt inherited from his Irish mother, never prevented him however from carefully hearing his opponents out. Marc was possessed with clear ideas about what he thought was good for the lake and our way of life in general, and never hesitated to state them, frequently taking on difficult files that no one else would touch.      His Jesuit education (Loyola college) made him a fiery and formidable debater. He especially liked history, that concerning Loyalists, and was actively involved in the Brome County Historical Society.

Marc was straight forward and always showed a great deal of integrity, which caused many to recoil when he got right to the point. But it took a great deal of determination and fortitude to take on the pro-development mayors at the time. Marc was a player in all the major environmental files. Among them were the urbanization projects started in 1987, the condos at 400 Lakeside, the Inverness condos, navigation buoys on the lake, management of the Foster dam and other conservation projects such as the protection of wetlands.  

As a young adult, Marc began his social involvement in Longueuil – from 1974 to 1978 – as a municipal councillor, with a specific interest in municipal parks and the city’s open-air spaces, (Base de Plein Air de Longueuil) which eventually became Parc Régional de Longueuil and Parc Michel-Chartrand. His interest in public spaces continued at Brome Lake where he did volunteer work on the trails for the millennium project at Coldbrook park (2000-2001), and then at Call Mills and Veterans parks (2010). 

In 1976, Marc and Micheline installed themselves on a part-time basis on what is today the Domaine Brome road, very near the residence of Peter Wade, who was to become a great friend and accomplice. A CGA and tax auditor for Revenue Canada and without doubt a zealous enforcer of what he politely called government smokescreens, Marc retired in 1996 while having been a permanent resident of his Brome Lake home since 1987.  

In 1987, it took a lot of faith and temerity to personally advance the funds to acquire an immense and extraordinary wetlands area which is today the Quilliams–Durrull Natural Reserve. With three other environmentalists as dedicated as himself, he founded the Brome Lake Land Foundation which today possesses some 500 acres of land around the lake.  He remained a member of the Foundation board until his death on March 7, 2014. True to form right until is death, he managed and kept a close eye on all the properties as if they were his very own.

The Brome Lake Conservation association first saw the light of day in 1961 with the goal of improving the quality of water in the lake, which was deplorable at the time with several episodes of cyanobacteria each and every summer. Soon after arriving in the area, Marc became its president, a role he occupied for more than 15 years. He was also a member of Renaissance Brome Lake.

Thank you, Marc for your unparalleled commitment, your frankness and your energy. Thank you for your legacy. Thank you  also Micheline for your continuing support of Marc. We owe you both this debt of gratitude.

2018: Edward A. Whitcher

Renaissance Brome Lake would like to pay tribute to the remarkable contribution of Mr. Edward (Eddy) Whitcher and his family to the water quality of the lake’s major tributary, Quilliams Brook.

The Whitcher family owns a major tract of land at the limits of Brome Lake and West Bolton and they have been farming it for some four generations. The great grandfather Witcher acquired this land – today 100 hectares- at the beginning of the 20thcentury. He lived in a house that dates back to 1875, and raised chickens and delivered eggs to Knowlton, the area’s principal village at the time. He was also mayor of West Bolton at one point.

Eddy is reserved, very much someone who prefers to stay in the background; but he is always ready to help. He would like to leave his mark as a responsible farmer who is very involved in his community, a proud promoter of local and cooperative agriculture, despite the many challenges this faces in our sector. He is probably one of the last of his kind. Over the last century, the ‘real farmers’ in the Brome Lake watershed have declined in numbers from several hundred to about a hundred.

Eddy and Renaissance Brome Lake joined forces in 2009 when their initial partnership involved stabilizing certain sections of the Quilliams Brook plain. This effort led the way to a major three-year undertaking, from 2015 to 2017.   

The year 2015 was particularly occupied with the planting of several thousand shrubs on Whitcher land. At this point Eddy agreed to enlarge the shore bank strip to between 5 and 8 metres, even though the bylaw demanded only 3 metres. Eddy was there throughout the entire renaturalization and bank stabilization process, he accompanied contractors and took an active part in the soil preparation work himself.

Thank you, Mr. Whitcher for your involvement in improving our living environment.  Thank you for being so enthusiastically available and for your whole-hearted support of our partnership which today benefits our entire community.

2017: Peter F. Wade

Renaissance Brome Lake as well as several other associations in our region could not have been better served over the years than they have been by someone as dedicated and knowledgeable as Peter Wade. For over half a century, he has been a living example of the volunteer stewardship our lake and other natural areas have needed to survive. His personal and burgeoning archives represent an incredible source of information and history, despite the fact that his dear wife Joan is anxious to get some of the house back. Entering his office is like entering Ali Baba’s cave.   

Peter has been part of every fight, every challenge to the health of Brome Lake: protection of wetlands, unbridled urbanization, mostly since 1987, studies and acquisition of knowledge about the lake and its ecosystems.

In 1964, Peter Wade and his family were among the first to settle at Domaine Brome, initially as summer residents and later, in 1988, on a permanent basis. He soon developed a lasting friendship with another pioneer, Marc Decelles, his lake soul mate, and Yves Roy, his neighbour.

Peter has a Ph.D in management and is an expert in statistics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Statistics. These assets and a willingness to contribute them to the cause have all served us well over the years. For example, the 1989 survey to put in place navigation restrictions (150 metre zone – 10km/hr), and the statistical findings from water sampling work. Peter still collects and analyses weather data and you will frequently see him in his boat during the summer months, measuring water transparency.

In 1987 Peter, along with 3 other residents, all passionate environmentalists concerned about protecting wetlands, co-founded the Brome Lake Land Foundation and at one time or another has served as board member, treasurer and president. 

In 1989, Peter was nominated as a member of the newly created environment commission by the town council along with three other friends, Yves Roy, Peter Kerrigan and Geoffrey Hudghson. This commission was a spin-off of great citizen participation called “Imaginaction”, a concept in which Peter was actively involved.

Between 1965 and 1999, he was a member and president of the Brome Lake Conservation Association, during a period of intense urbanization and sensitive issues such as the Inverness condo project, the condos at 400 Lakeside, the deviation of Rte 243, the sewer system on Lakeside, Forum 50 etc…

In 2006, he was one of the main artisans of the rebirth of Renaissance Brome Lake: he organised public meetings to raise awareness and acted as scientific vice-president. He was part of the RBL board from 2002-2009 and along the way made many contributions to the Chamber of Commerce, Tempo magazine and the Trail Committee.

Thank you Peter, for all the many services and numerous hours you have given to your community, never allowing yourself to be discouraged by indifference or lack of consideration. You’ve been patient, you’ve been unwaveringly present! Thanks for being our friend and especially a friend of Brome Lake !

See Peter Wade’s reply.

2017: James A. Wilkins

James is a child of Brome Lake; He spent his childhood and his youth, among other things at Bondville Beach and at the Terrace Inn, place of all the extravagances! In 1978, James became involved with Peter White, Peter Wade, Marc Decelles and Yves Roy in the Brome Lake Conservation Association. Epic battles then took place, notably for the upgrading of the Duck Farm, which finally materialized in 2002. He was president of RLB from 2009 to 2016, after being Tresurer for 2 years.

 

 

 

 

2016: The Fisher-Kerrigan Family

Left to right: Michel Delorme, Pierre Beaudoin, Marie-Andrée Leblond (artiste), Claire Fisher-Kerrigan, James Wilkins

Left to right: Michel Delorme, Pierre Beaudoin, Marie-Andrée Leblond (artiste), Claire Fisher-Kerrigan, James Wilkins

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.