The Meet Me On Main Street summer series for 2022 came to an end with one final event in Hallville on Aug. 10. Good food, music, fun, and an opportunity to have a chat with your neighbours were the highlights of the get together. Residents also took advantage of the event to celebrate with North Dundas retiring clerk Jo-Anne McCaslin as she moves on to the next chapter in her life. Morin Photo
HALLVILLE – The Meet Me On Main Street series came to an end on Aug. 10 in the Village of Hallville.
The community event had been planned as the first one in the popular series, for six different communities in North Dundas, but bad weather forced organizers to cancel the Hallville event and move it to the end of the series.
The occasion was the perfect time to not only celebrate the Hallville community and the summer gathering of neighbours, but it was also a great time to pay tribute to Mountain resident Jo-Anne McCaslin who has recently retired from the municipality after 24 years serving as its clerk.
The Hallville event featured music from the Ken Workman Band, food from Simply Baked Catering, Country Kitchen Restaurant – Winchester and Loughlin’s Country Store, Smokie Ridge Vineyard, Windmill Brewery and King’s Lock Craft Distillery kept everyone cool throughout the night.
The children enjoyed the crafts and games at the NDFS Fire Prevention Committee and the SDG Library booths.
As the event got underway, the municipality celebrated the retirement of their clerk Jo-Anne McCaslin with some comments about her long career with Mountain Township and then North Dundas.
Before 1998 and the amalgamation of Mountain Township with North Dundas, she served in a variety of positions.
North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser read a note from Eastella Rose, the former Reeve of Mountain Township and Deputy Mayor of North Dundas.
“I have so many good memories of Jo-Anne. I first met Jo-Anne when she came with her mother to my beauty salon. She was always very energetic and ambitious, which proved to be great assets in her career success. She was the mirror image of her mother. She is well known in the Mountain and Hallville area for her singing and volunteer work,” wrote Rose.
“I was on the Mountain Township council when she applied for and was successful in winning a position. Joanne was a star employee going above and beyond to serve the residents of Mountain Township and her colleagues. I will remember her stepping up when the clerk treasurer was seriously ill. Jo-Anne took over the clerk treasurer position and excelled. She moved on to North Dundas Township during the ice storm. Jo-Anne demonstrated what strong leadership skills she had to help us manage through this very difficult time. Jo-Anne was one of the first people in the area to perform civil marriages. She would decorate the council chambers and make every ceremony special. I know Jo-Anne continued to flourish in her career until her retirement.”
Fraser also said, “I had the pleasure to sit across from Jo-Anne for eleven years. Four times a week at a minimum Jo-Anne and I communicated or sat together and discussed ways to make things happen for people.”
Fraser alluded to the many times Jo-Anne’s sense of humour made the municipal office a great place to work.
“With jealousy, I look to her family, and friends that now have the opportunity to spend hours with such a considerate, pleasant, community and family orientated person.”
Fraser said, “Jo-Anne’s intimate knowledge of her area and of who we are was such a benefit to all of us and served us all well. Her caring and concern for all of us in North Dundas was demonstrated daily to those who had the opportunity to work with her.”
North Dundas Deputy Mayor Al Armstrong said, “She became what everybody I believe would want to aspire to, at any sort of vocation you are getting into. She is the benchmark in how she comported herself for a small community. She genuinely and truly cared about everybody that was out there and everybody who showed up at the counter.”
Fraser said she had the ability to see challenging situations as only a problem that had to be solved. He explained she would remind us that our job was to find out how to fix the problem.
“She truly, truly cared,” said Armstrong.
He added that as clerk she had a tremendous amount of empathy for residents who came to the municipality with their problems.
“Jo-Anne felt compelled and honour-bound to fix them,” he said.
Councillor Gary Annable said, “When I started as councillor I got the impression that Jo-Anne was a very good den mother. There were times I could go to her and ask her any question about any subject and never walked away without an answer.”
Councillor Theresa Bergeron was on hand to say a few words.
She said, “As a member of this community my interactions with her over the years; she was always cheerful; she always knew what you were asking for, had answers and was super-efficient. I always called her the encyclopedia of North Dundas.
North Dundas CAO, Angela Rutley explained that Jo-Anne joined the North Dundas Township right when the ice-storm hit the province. “Jo-Anne started with the township of Mountain, and with amalgamation, joined the township of North Dundas, days after joining North Dundas she was thrust into the “all other duties as required,” portion of her job; that included finding candles for the office because there was no power, opening a shelter in the municipal building for people without heat, reminding people to take their medication and ensuring that nobody was moving around the building, in their sleeping attire or lack thereof. As usual, Joanne handled everything with a sense of humor and attention to detail.”
Rutley attributed the success of the municipality to its work family.
“Jo-Anne has had the honour of being, in my opinion the mother figure of that family. Coworkers would go to Jo-Anne for a sounding board, a piece of advice or because she could lighten the day with her sense of humour and unique laugh. She was fond of telling our newer recruits at the township that she had pantyhose older than them.”
When asked to speak about her reaction to all of the happy memories and positive comments from her coworkers and friends, she said, “I would just like to say thank you very, very, much to my work family who I love and to all of the wonderful politicians and folks I worked with over the years. I loved my job and I continue to love the community I live in.”
Referring to amalgamation and the ice storm happening at the same time she said, “That was the best team building exercise we could have asked for. We came from four different municipalities, two villages and two rural townships. But we did not have to worry about that. All we had to worry about was making sure that we got through that ice storm and working together.”
She explained that she was looking forward to her retirement and having different things to do.
Then Rutley also read a letter from former CAO Howard Smith who worked with Jo-Anne in the early days of her career.
Smith wrote: “I have worked with a number of persons over the years in many settings and situations. Some worked out very well while there were a few I would rather not remember. And then there was working with you. I remember our starting out together at the time of the municipal amalgamation back in 1998.”
He wrote about the province’s plan to reduce the number of municipalities in the province from 800 to 440 by joining them all together where appropriate. North Dundas would become one of six municipalities found in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
“I would become CEO and you would become the new municipal clerk of the new North Dundas. Little did we know just how we had our work cut out for us. Not only did we inherit a brand-new municipality, but it was during one of the worst ice storms ever experienced in the region, and we had not even had our first meeting of the new township council. Talk about trial by fire for both counsel and staff. But as luck would have it, we all pulled our fair share and managed to survive quite well. Many memories were born from that time and one of the most humorous ones was you looking after the well-being of some of the David clan of Chesterville while they stayed at the Winchester Town Hall during the days of the ice storm. During the years that followed you, Jo-Anne, you proved yourself and your worth to the organization countless times over. You are indeed an excellent employee that I could truly count on to excel, you were an excellent employee, Jo-Anne and one that was not afraid of a challenge, nor a truckload of work. You were always there when needed and never afraid to offer a helping hand in any way you could. I was always confident in you and proud of the work you did, as an employee of North Dundas. You truly were one of a kind and there were not many like you when it came down to what was in the best interests of the municipality.”
Joseph Morin is the Editor of the Eastern Ontario AgriNews, and the Record. He is, despite years of practice, determined to eventually play the guitar properly. He has served the Eastern Ontario community as a news editor, and journalist for the past 25 years with the Iroquois Chieftain, Kemptville Advance, West Carleton Review, and Ottawa Carleton Review in Manotick. He has never met a book he did not like.