Volunteer, Order of Collingwood recipient passes 0
COLLINGWOOD - A long-time community volunteer and recipient of the Order of Collingwood has died.
Jim Kilgour, whose most recent volunteer endeavours included membership of the town's Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee, and as chair of Harbourlands Committee, died Saturday afternoon after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.
Mr. Kilgour was also an avid sailor, and a long-time member of the Collingwood Yacht Club, and was appointed commodore in 1980; he was also the long time editor of the yacht club's newsletter. He was heavily involved in the organization of the Georgian Bay Cup, a sailing competition recently resurrected after a 120-year hiatus.
"When I got involved with the history of the Georgian Bay Cup, Jim jumped right in and did a lot of the research," said John Worts, another of the event's organizers. "Anything to do with the harbour was his pet interest and we will endeavour to make that his legacy."
Mr. Kilgour received the Order of Collingwood in 1991, and was named Companion of the Order - an honour given to order recipients who continue their volunteer contributions to the community - in 2003; Mr. Kilgour was among the first to be named as a 'companion'.
It was under his tutelage as chair of Harbourlands that much of the work along what was formerly referred to as the Collingwood spit was done, including the Walk of History featuring 'hull plates' honouring the more than 230 steel-hulled ships launched from Collingwood, and the creation of Millennium Park.
"Jim Kilgour's contribution can be most measured in one word - commitment," said former Collingwood mayor Terry Geddes, who appointed Kilgour as chair when the Harbourlands Committee was created in the late 1990s. "When I travel along the Harbourlands, I reflect on the committee... these were the people who created what we have there today."
Long-time Harbourlands Committee member Kent Walton noted the committee in recent years has seen the passing of committee members Don Parrish and Hugh Boycott, "and now we have lost our Commodore.
"Jim's leadership over the years was one of guidance and diplomacy while trying to achieve what was best for the Collingwood Harbourlands," said Walton. "No matter the circumstances, when it came to the Harbourlands, Jim was front and centre to fight on our behalf.
"Although not always successful in achieving our goals, it was not from a lack of desire and effort from our chair. We will miss Jim, his patience, his diplomacy and his desire to do what was best, not for himself nor the committee but for Collingwood."
Penny Skelton, the chair of the town's parks, recreation and culture committee, not only worked with Mr. Kilgour on the committee, but was also one of his biology students at CCI.
"I met Jim Kilgour the first day of Grade 9 when he walked into class in his white lab coat and proceeded to outline pretty well everything we would learn in the coming term," said Skelton. "I believe that he was the true definition of a 'teacher'. I realize now that as a young teacher, Mr. Kilgour wasn't that much older than our senior students.
"The enthusiasm and dedication which he brought to the Science Department of C.C.I. was truly the definition of the man: everyone was supposed to learn."
Mr. Kilgour taught biology at Collingwood Collegiate for more than three decades.
Skelton would later volunteer on the PRC committee with Mr. Kilgour.
"His love of Collingwood, its history and its harbour became his 'next job' after he took retirement from teaching," said Skelton. "He may have retired from the profession but he took a professional 'teaching' approach to his volunteer commitments. His beloved lighthouse, yacht club and vision for the inner harbour development were jobs he tackled with his usual organized and methodical approach; Jim knew the history, the facts and usually developed the best strategy to tackle all jobs for the benefit of the community as a whole."
"Jim was a stickler for detail both in historical matters and either chairing a meeting or acting as recorder," said Worts. "He will be sorely missed by all at the Collingwood Yacht Club. He was a storyteller extraordinaire, great with the kids at the high school - he taught both my girls - and loved to sail."
Mr. Kilgour was also a devoted advocate of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse, and heavily lobbied governments at all levels to fund the restoration of the 150-year-old navigational beacon.
"I remember the day the wall (of the tower) fell down; Jim walked into my office wanting me to get the town to write a cheque for a quarter-million dollars to glue it back together," said Geddes.
Mr. Kilgour's work resulted in the federal government spending $230,000 in 2005 in order to shore up and stabilize the 90-foot tower, after a section slid away in late 2004.
"I always said Jim Kilgour was the one person in Collingwood who should have been on council, and wasn't," said Geddes. "We've lost someone very important in town; this was a guy who was instrumental in what we have today."
"He was a man who loved his community, his boat," said Skelton. "His vision and dedication as well as his lengthy explanations of ' why ' we should do something will be greatly missed."
A celebration of life will be held on Friday at the Collingwood branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, starting at 7 p.m.