Local Dutch heritage celebrated
From the left, Vince Zandbelt, Ruth Gilroy, Ryan Hreljac, Eric Duncan and Kaireen Cottham took a moment just before dinner began to pose for a photo at the Dutch Heritage Dinner Dance held at the Chesterville Legion on April 13. Thompson Goddard photo

CHESTERVILLE – This past Sat., April 13, was a busy day for members of the Rotary Club of Chesterville & District as the annual Peter van Kessel Memorial Duck Race and the 15th annual Dutch Heritage Dinner/Dance were held. 

Picking a winner
Abby van Kessel picks the final duck in the Peter van Kessel Memorial Duck Race held at the Chesterville Waterfront on April 13. Thompson Goddard photo

For 15 years, members of the local Rotary Club have held a dinner and dance celebrating the contributions to the community made by Dutch emigrants to Canada. Guest speakers at the 2019 event were federal SDSG Conservative candidate Eric Duncan and Ryan Hreljac of Ryan’s Well Foundation, headquartered in nearby Kemptville.

Ruth Gilroy, who was Rotary president in 2005 when the event began, explained initially the money raised was used in the community but after Ryan Hreljac spoke to the club about his work, the committee decided to donate the proceeds of the dinner, topped up to $1,000, to Ryan’s Well Foundation. Information on the Foundation’s website explains that the Foundation seeks to provide solutions to water crises in developing nations and began as a result of Hreljac’s successful attempt at six years of age to raise money to provide a well to a community in Uganda. 

Kaireen Cottham, who has been a member of the organizing committee since the event began, mentioned the committee has decided this dinner will be the last they organize. She continued that the present committee would be happy to assist a new group of organizers who wish to carry on this successful community event. Gilroy commented that this event has not only raised funds for the Ryan’s Well Foundation but has provided an opportunity for community members to come together.

Earlier in the day, the annual Peter van Kessel Memorial Duck Race was held with water conditions necessitating the winning ducks to be plucked from among the 900 deposited near the gazebo on the Chesterville Waterfront.  

Race organizers explained the decision to not have the ducks swim from the County Road 43 bridge just outside of Chesterville to the village bridge was made for safety reasons as the fast-flowing water would make retrieving the ducks dangerous. A donation will be provided to the Winchester District Memorial Hospital to go towards the purchase of an ultrasound machine, from funds raised by the race. First place winner of $500 went to Jamie Belanger, second place winner Marc Maize will receive $100 and third place winner Lorrie Munro will receive $50.