Mayor’s inaugural address a glimpse of what could lie ahead



Incoming municipal representatives for the 2019-2022 term of Huntsville Council were officially sworn in at a special ceremony held at the Algonquin Theatre on Monday, December 3, 2018.

Paul Calleja led guests, municipal staff and councillors in the singing of the national anthem.

Mayor Scott Aitchison was administered the oath of the Declaration of Office by Town Clerk Tanya Calleja.

Mayor Aitchison is officialy sworn in by Municipal Clerk Tanya Caleja.

Left hand on the Bible and his right hand raised, Aitchison swore to “truly, faithfully and impartially” fulfill his duties to the best of his abilities; he promised that he has not, nor will he ever accept payment or reward, or promise thereof, for the exercise of his duties “in a biased, corrupt or in any improper manner.”

He also promised to declare any pecuniary interest–whether direct or indirect–in accordance with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Declaration of Office also included a promise to be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second or the reigning sovereign for the time being.

Aitchison was then presented with the chain of office and he in turn administered the Declaration of Office to his council members.

The ceremony was the 18th of its kind since the Town of Huntsville was incorporated.

Huntsville Salvation Army Major Darren Wiseman followed with a sermon about the nature of leadership and a prayer for council. “An effective leader is one who is an example of what they want other people to do and other people to be. Leadership in this town is important and we want leaders who will do their job. And as I look at you this morning I see people who have the opportunity to step up to the plate and lead this town in the future,” he said.

Mayor Aitchison followed with his speech, quoted below:

“Members of Council, Former Mayors, Major Wiseman, Detachment Commander Graham, municipal staff, family, friends, citizens of Huntsville… Good morning and welcome.

Former mayors Bob Addison (back left), Ron House, Len Clarke, Claude Doughty and Hugh Mackenzie attend the inaugural meeting of council on Monday.

The past four years in service as your Mayor have been a tremendous honour. Being the Mayor of Huntsville is a unique privilege – one which only 33 other people have experienced in the history of our town. While often exhilarating and rewarding, there are days when this office can be difficult and frustrating. And so, I am particularly pleased to warmly welcome and thank the five individuals here today that have known the slings and arrows of the Mayor’s office! Bob Addison – Mayor 1970, Ron House – Mayor from 1991 – 1997, Len Clarke – Mayor from 1997 – 2000, Hugh Mackenzie – Mayor from 2000 – 2006, and Claude Doughty – Mayor from 2006 to 2014. On behalf of the people of Huntsville, I thank you for your dedication and service to our town. Personally, I thank each of you for your guidance and encouragement.

We have come together this morning to celebrate and formalize the results of our democratic process. We have all been witness to the declaration and oath each member of Council has sworn. Just as each of us has committed to execute the responsibilities of our offices to the best of our ability, so too must each of you – all citizens of Huntsville – commit to engage with each other and your new civic leaders. We all share in the solemn obligations of our vibrant democracy not only to vote, but to remain engaged in this civic dialogue – to ensure each member of your Council may fulfil their duty. The greatest test of our oath will be found in the questions you ask, the respectful debate of ideas and the celebration of our collective achievements.

 As we embark on these next four years, your Council will devote themselves wholly and completely to making Huntsville a more prosperous, inclusive and vibrant community. While we have come a long way in our 132 years, there remain challenges we must address. There will be new problems that arise, victories for us to celebrate and always opportunities for us to seize.

  • We will be responsible stewards of your tax dollars.
  • We will protect the natural beauty of our community while expanding to meet the demands of our growing population.
  • We will continue to seek partnerships with all levels of government and the private sector to ensure adequate housing for all citizens of Huntsville.
  • We will complete the refurbishment of our beautiful downtown.
  • We will facilitate economic opportunities and prosperity for local business.
  • We will continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure – including roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks.
  • We will invest in public transit to make it more effective and efficient.
  • We will continue to invest in energy reduction.
  • We will invest in the cultural, recreational and heritage assets of the community.
  • We will push to complete the construction of our new and expanded Fairvern Nursing Home.
  • We will never cease our vigorous defence and support for our full-service acute care hospital.

 There will undoubtedly be debate about the priorities we set, the actions we take and the methods we employ. And yet we can be certain that only through that debate and discussion will we secure the best path forward for our community.

 As we navigate towards our future, we are enriched by our shared history. Originally the seasonal hunting and fishing territory of the Ojibwa, Chippewa and Algonquian people, the first European settlers arrived here soon after the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 made settlement possible. We must be grateful not only to those early settlers, but also to the indigenous people who have been stewards of this land for thousands of years prior to our arrival.

 Among those first settlers, my great, great, great grandfather Allan MacInnes, departed Toronto in November of 1871 with his wife Elizabeth and four children – aged 10, 8, 4 and 2 months. They took the train to Holland Landing, where they boarded a steamboat to cross Lake Simcoe. At Washago, they boarded a stagecoach which delivered them to Port Sydney. After a night stay in the Port Sydney Hotel, with all their worldly possessions, they walked along the narrow footpath to their new land at Lot 15 Concession 6 and 7 Brunel Township – roughly six miles and where Brunel Road and Muskoka Road 10 intersect today! They built a small twelve-foot by fourteen-foot cabin with a dirt floor and a small fireplace. They cleared the land and started farming.

 The MacInnes’ and Aitchisons were among the many brave and rugged souls who began a journey that we continue today. They established a community – they built churches and schools. As more people arrived so too did industry and tourism. The story of this great community has been etched on this place by a legacy of hard work, perseverance and determination. It began with those early settlers and continued through generations of families whose names will be forever remembered.

When we look back on the significant advances in the history of our Town, we know that none of them came easily or without disagreement. Imagine the daunting task facing our first Council as they set out to carve a village out of the bush or the many challenges to come throughout our history – from convincing the Grand Trunk Railway to route their track through Huntsville in 1886 or rallying the community to rebuild the village after it was destroyed by fire, to the battle over the construction of the Centre Street bridge, and the wise investments to construct facilities like this theatre or the Summit Centre.

 As has occurred time and again, we are today at a critical juncture in the evolution of our beloved Town. We will not be intimidated by the challenges we face or the difficult decisions to come. The tale of our uninterrupted progress continues and the mantle of shaping that progress falls to each and every one of us.

 To my abled colleagues on Council – today we take up that noble cause of building on the remarkable legacy of those who served before us. I challenge you to imagine the Huntsville of the future – what great contributions will we make together that will ensure that future is bright. What will the next generations of Mayors, Councillors and citizens say of our stewardship?

The task before us may not be easy, but as we measure the capacity of the people of this great community to meet each new challenge we face, we look back to those early settlers and we are reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. So too are the opportunities for Huntsville.

This is a time for bold leadership – leadership that will shape the face of this community for generations to come. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for your leadership and the story of this magnificent place has only just begun.”

First-time Councillor Dione Schumacher is officialy sworn in by the Mayor.

Councillor Tim Withey takes the oath of office.

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  1. John Rivière-Anderson on

    A warm welcome and best wishes to our Mayor and Councillors. Many thanks for your past and anticipated dedication to the resilience of the communities of Huntsville and Muskoka.

  2. A great inaugural speech, filled with reflection, appreciation to those who built this town and to some of the many challenges they faced. More importantly perhaps, is by building on the determination shown by your predecessors, you and your council instil great hope for the entrepreneurial spirit that was and is the engine that guides and builds our town. Given the excelerated technological changes before us, our capacity for growth, is endless. Good luck in your second term. May we all benefit from Your Worship and Councils dedications to your posts.

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