Freemen of the Municipality
The Freedom of the Municipality is an honour bestowed upon distinguished persons in recognition and appreciation of their long and faithful public service. Previous Councils have conferred the title of Freeman on the following people for their notable achievements and contributions to North Cowichan.
C.A.P. Murison, 1973
Charles Alexander Phipps Murison was first elected to North Cowichan Council in 1952, serving as a councillor for 2 years and as Reeve from 1954 to 1959. His accomplishments include both the Chemainus and Crofton sewer and water systems, and the implementation of the first comprehensive zoning, subdivision, and building by law package. In addition to his time spent with North Cowichan Council, he served as the president of the Union of BC Municipalities for two years and was a life member of the organization. In 1973, as part of the municipality's centennial year he was one of three persons made a Freeman.
R. Clegg, 1973
Reginald Clegg served as councillor from 1960 until 1967. He was made a Freeman in 1973.
D.C. Morton, 1973
The Methodist Minister's son from Birmingham, England lived in Manitoba before moving to B.C. in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Donald Christopher Morton accepted a job managing the Ayrhsire dairy cattle at Cowichan's Fairbridge Farm. He eventually owned his own dairy farm in the Somenos area until 1966. He was the Cowichan Leader's agricultural editor for many years. Mr. Morton served overseas with the reinforcements of the Canadian Scottish Regiment during World War II. He began his career as a local government politician in 1954 when he was elected councillor. He was elected reeve in 1960 and in subsequent years until 1970. He served another three years as councillor after that, retired from municipal politics in 1973. Mr. Morton was then appointed to the B.C. Assessment Authority Board and served for 14 years as a director. During his terms as reeve, the municipal forest reserve was established, and the Cowichan District Hospital and municipal hall on Trans Canada Highway were built. Mr. Morton was made a Freeman in 1973.
A. VandeCasteyen, 1975
Adolphe VandeCasteyen began his municipal career at the age of 17 when he started with the City of Ladysmith where he worked for nine years. Following a year as the Clerk- Treasurer in Kaslo, he began his 32 year career with North Cowichan. Retiring as Clerk-Administrator he had also spent four years as the Secretary-Treasurer of School District #65. He was the first president of the Vancouver Island Municipal Officer's Association and had served as a president of the Municipal Officer's Association of British Columbia. Active within the Association of Vancouver Island Municipalities he acted as Secretary-Treasurer. Continuing his education in 1960 he achieved his CGA degree. In 1975, Mr. VandeCasteyen was made a Freeman.
M. C. Robertson, 1991
Margaret, with her husband Stan, moved to Duncan in December of 1947. Her three children were all born here in Duncan in the old King's Daughters' Hospital. Active in the community, she became involved in scouts, guides, the music festival, and parent teachers association. In 1966 she ran in a by-election for North Cowichan Council and won. During her 24 years in office, Mrs. Robertson was Deputy Mayor, and she served as chairman of every committee except public works. In addition, she served on the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board and the Cowichan Valley Hospital board. In 1991, in recognition of her years of dedicated service to the municipality Margaret Robertson was made a Freeman.
R.H. Hollett, 1997
Henry Rex Hollett established his successful tire business in Chemainus in 1956. He and his wife, Georgina, raised four children, and Rex spent many busy hours coaching youth softball, baseball and soccer. He was first elected to North Cowichan Council in 1977, serving for eleven years as an Aldermen before being elected Mayor in 1987. He remained on council as Mayor until 1996. He reclaimed the Mayor's chair in the 1999 municipal election and served another term until 2002. In addition to his time spent with North Cowichan Council, Mr. Hollett served on the Cowichan District Hospital Board, the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board, and was the president and an active member of the Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce and the Chemainus Rotary Club. In 1997, Mr. Hollett was made a Freeman.
G. Glen Ridgway, Q.C., 2011
Glen Ridgway has an impressive history of public service: 23 years as a Municipal Councillor, 18 years as a Regional Director of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, 17 years as a Board Member of the Justice Institute of BC, 8 years as a Cowichan Valley School Trustee including 3 years as Chair of the Board, 3 years as a Board Member of former Malaspina College, and is the past President of The Law Society of British Columbia (2010-2011). Glen was actively involved in the development of community recreation in the Cowichan Valley including minor hockey and minor baseball. Since 1975 Glen has operated a private law practice and still practices today.
Anne Murray, 2011
Anne Murray was North Cowichan’s first female Mayor (1996-1999), served six years as a Councillor, and 12 years as a School Trustee for School District No. 79 (Cowichan Valley). A former nurse, Anne is passionate about universal child care and affordable housing. A long list of accomplishments includes the transfer of federal ports management to North Cowichan and expansion of the Municipal forest in Chemainus. Anne continues to carry out volunteer work in our community and currently serves on the BC Forest Discovery Museum’s Board of Directors and volunteers at its many events.
James Dias, 2011
Jim Dias retired from North Cowichan in 2010 after 36 years, working his way up to the position of Chief Administrative Officer in 1991, playing a key role in the shaping of North Cowichan. His long list of accomplishments include his personal involvement in Cowichan Place negotiations resulting in securing a site for the new Vancouver Island University campus and a potential site for a new Cowichan High School. These negotiations also facilitated the relocation of the Cowichan Exhibition to the beautiful new site at Mays Road, and the spectacular new Evans Park sports fields on Somenos Road. Additionally, the award-winning Cowichan Aquatic Centre was completed in 2008. Through his numerous accomplishments, his strong personal commitment to the Municipality and its staff is significant, as well as his high regard for North Cowichan’s fire services volunteers. Jim continues to be an active member of the community as a long-time Rotarian and through involvement in Old Timers Hockey and other community service groups. In retirement he now serves as a member of the Providence Farm Board of Directors and as a liaison between North Cowichan and the Island Corridor Foundation.
George Seymour, 2015
In 1958, George wrote the exams for the Foreign Service, and held distinguished careers with the Federal Government from 1959 to 1993 living in Vietnam, Holland, Ottawa, Sri Lanka, Washington, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 1994, George retired and moved back to the Valley with his wife, Marie Claire and their 3 daughters.
George was elected to North Cowichan Council in 1996 and served for 15 years on North Cowichan Council and 9 years on the Cowichan Valley Regional District. He was the long-time Chair of the Technical Planning Committee and participant in the Advisory Planning Committee. George was a key player in the first modern Official Community Plan (OCP) 2002 and the current OCP adopted in 2011, as well as being a strong supporter of agriculture in the valley. George was an advocate for the Cowichan Theatre and instrumental in bringing the Cowichan Branch of the Vancouver Regional Library to the Cowichan Community Centre property. George had the foresight to advise the CVRD Board to plan financially for the new Cowichan Hospital.
Involved in many committees at North Cowichan and the CVRD, George’s broad perspective on community issues and thought for decision-making has been an asset to the community.
Tom Walker, 2018
Tom was elected to North Cowichan Council in 1991 and served 17 years as a Councillor (1991 - 2004 and 2014-2018) and 3 years as Mayor of North Cowichan (2008 – 2011). During this time Tom was Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board for three terms. Tom was also Chair on the Forestry Advisory Committee and one of the 6 founding members of the Forestry Committee in the early 1980’s. At the October 3, 2018 Regular Council meeting, the Forest Legacy and Bursary Scholarship was renamed the "Tom Walker Forest Legacy Bursary Scholarship"
Tom’s career spanned 35 years working for the BC Forest Service and in 1980 Tom was appointed the District Manager of the Duncan Forest District headquartered in the Cowichan Valley. This district covered southern Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands, complete with a complex variety of forestry and environmental issues and challenges. Some years after his retirement as District Manager, he was appointed by the Province to protect the public interest as a Lay Councillor on the Association of BC Professional Foresters, the governing body responsible for registering and regulating professional foresters. Tom served two terms in that role from 2013 to 2018.
Tom has been active in many civic, community and professional groups over the years. He has been involved as a president, a director or a member in many organizations including past president of Cowichan Valley Crimestoppers, BC Forest Discovery Centre and Duncan Rotary Club; former director of Cowichan Valley Basket Society and Clement Center Society, as well as founding member and past president of the Cowichan Valley Probus Club. In retirement Tom now serves as a board member of the BC Forest Discovery Centre.