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WELL DESERVED POSTHUMOUS HONOUR FOR PHIL ARBER
GREGG CHAMBERLAIN email@example.com
Arber, in partnership with Aartje Den Boer, co-founded the Vankleek Hill Farm- ers’ Market, and was a founding member, with Elisabeth Skelly and Odile Tetu, of the Vankleek Hill Mural Committee, which resulted in creation of the Vankleek Hill Heritage Murals project, a colourful part of the village core. Arber was involved in the purchase and preservation of Higginson Tower as a local and popular historical landmark, and he founded the Arbor Art Gallery, which serves as a showcase for local and regional artists and crafters, and also is the primary venue for the Speaker Series of live concerts and guest lectures on a variety of topics. For sev- eral years he strove to develop and expand the Speaker’s Series of guest lectures into both French and English components. He was working on developing the francophone version of the series, to complement the original English program, right up until a few days before his death, on December 14, 2016. During his years in Vankleek Hill, Arber supported and promoted fellowship and unity between the Francophone and Anglophone communities. He believed it was important that the two cultures not just learn to com- municate with each other but that they also should get to know each other and get along with each other as part of one larger com- munity family. “I’m very appreciative of the Francophone community for recognizing Phil’s contribution to the preservation of the French culture,” Putzel said. “It says a lot about the pride and the value of the culture when they recognize people who contribute to the richness of the culture.” His posthumous nomination to l’Ordre de la francophonie is the latest tribute to Arber’s community spirit. He was one of the hundreds of recipients of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubiliee Medal in 2013, and in 2016 he was named for Champlain Township’s Volunteer Award of Distinction.
Though he is gone, Phil Arber and his contributions to Champlain Township are never forgotten. The man respon- sible for many popular festivals, arts and culture programs, and other projects which make the municipality special, has received another posthumous award to honour his long years of dedicated community service. Arber was confirmed last month as a member of l’Ordre de la francophonie of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario de Prescott et Russell (ACFO-PR), a posthumous honour, in recognition of his love of Eastern Ontario’s francophone culture and its rich contribution to the region as a whole and especially to his own home community. “He was absolutely determined to make sure the francophone heritage of the area was respected and appreciated,” said Samme Putzel, Arber’s widow, during a March 10 phone interview. “He spoke French with pleasure, and he loved to tell French jokes and puns.” A former native of Manitoba, Arber moved to Champlain Township in 1972 and settled in Vankleek Hill, where he found McAlpine Farm and continued with his business of dealing in Canadian antiques. His passion for his new home community also resulted in his becoming almost a one-man arts, culture and community festival promoter, as he organized a wide variety of special events and programs which helped to both celebrate Vankleek Hill’s rich cultural diversity and history, and also help spur the local economy through development of a strong and vibrant tourism sector. Bilingual festivals and fun Arber made a point of organizing events that both honoured and welcomed Champlain Township’s bilingual heritage. Putzel noted that he tried to make sure programs and promotions for the various festivals, arts
Le dévouement de Phil Arber envers sa collectivité natale de Vankleek Hill et envers le canton de Champlain en général était presque légendaire. Son désir de célébrer le riche patrimoine culturel et historique de la région lui a valu de nombreuses distinctions. Le dernier en date est une intronisation posthume à l’Ordre de la francophonie de l’Association canadienne- française de l’Ontario de Prescott et Russell (ACFO-PR). —archives
and culture events, and other projects were available in both French and English. Over the span of almost four decades, Arber founded and served as the main organizer for countless events that have
become traditional staples for the Vankleek Hill festival season. They include: the Hill Top Horse Show equestrian competition, the annual Christmas Parade of Lights, the Horse and Buggy Parade, the Vankleek Hill Flavour Festival, and the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
Phil Arber’s devotion to his home community of Vankleek Hill and to Champlain Township at large were almost legendary. His desire to celebrate the area’s rich heritage of culture and history has earned him many accolades. The latest is a posthumous induction in l’Ordre de la francophonie of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario de Prescott et Russell (ACFO-PR). —archives
Over the years Phil Arber has been responsible for many of Vankleek Hill’s popular family favourite festivals and cultural events. His devotion to his community, and his promotion of unity and fellowship between the French and English communities of Champlain Township have earned him posthumous membership in l’Ordre de la francophonie of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario de Prescott et Russell (ACFO-PR). —archives
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