Mayor's Centennial Speech

At the Commemorative Centennial Council Evening on Wednesday October 3rd, 2012 at Esquimalt Municipal Hall, Mayor Barbara Desjardins delivered her Esquimalt Centennial Speech to an invited group of former mayors and councillors of Esquimalt, Greater Victoria mayors, Minister Ida Chong, MP Randall Garrison, MLA Maurine Karagianis, CFB Esquimalt representatives and other local dignitaries. The evening began with the inaugural speech of the first Reeve (Mayor) of Esquimalt in 1912, Charles Lugrin, portrayed by historical actor Marc Vermette.

The following is the text of Mayor Desjardins'speech:

I would like to start today by acknowledging that we are within the traditional territorial lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.

It is my honour and privilege as Mayor of the Township of Esquimalt to welcome everyone to this special commemorative evening.

I will respond to Reeve Lugrin’s inaugural [1912] speech momentarily, but first I would like to provide the true identity of the Council seated before you.

2012 Councillor Meagan Brame sends her regrets, but her 1912 counterpart was Alderman George Mathews.

  • Representing 1912 Alderman Colonel Peters is 2012 Councillor David Schinbein
  • Representing 1912 Alderman Robert Anderson is 2012 Councillor Robert McKie
  • Representing 1912 Alderman James McAdam is 2012 Councillor Tim Morrison
  • Representing 1912 Alderman Charles Rea is 2012 Councillor Dave Hodgins.
  • And 1912 Alderman John Meyer is represented by 2012 Councillor Hundleby.

Thank-you Council.

I want to thank Reeve Lugrin for his fiery speech.

He and his Council had a lot on their hands in those days, getting our community on its feet. His words about sound business decisions, maintaining a vision, the importance of policing and emergency services, and other references to municipal infrastructure echoes across the decades – he understood what it took to create and sustain a community.

Much has been done since his important start, and he would be amazed where we are today. The essence of his message was this: we will focus on community priorities, quality service delivery, and innovative thinking. That message has stood the test of time and is the cornerstone philosophy of our Council in 2012.

What was it about 1912? So many businesses (Brown’s the Florist, which opened for business here in Esquimalt), communities (Port Alberni and Duncan here on the Island, and West Vancouver on the mainland), and organizations (the BC Ministry of Forests) were established that year.

Even the Calgary Stampede was born in 1912! And, of course the Oreo cookie was invented.

It was a fertile time for expansion and acting on ideas. The idea of Esquimalt was a wonderful idea and the timing was right in 1912 to make it happen.

It’s an idea now fully realized, with a world-class ship building industry, a defining partnership with CFB Esquimalt, parks and recreation opportunities galore, and a “live, work, play” sensibility that is the envy of any community.

All of this is made possible by a favoured geography and the consistent hard work and dedication of Esquimalt residents and business owners, and our maritime partners.

We have been speaking in this centennial year about “honouring our past, celebrating our present and imagining our future.”

We have realized this centennial vision in so many ways over the course of the year. In the future I will reflect back on this year as an amazing mosaic of honouring, celebrating, and imagining. This mosaic will include tonight, with all of you, honouring our past with Reeve Lugrin in attendance.

My reflection will include images of celebrations fitting our centennial year, from our centennial levee, to special sporting and arts events, to our Freedom of the Township parade and ceremony with our Royal Canadian Navy partners, to the Coast Salish Acknowledgement Project at Esquimalt High School, and of course to our community celebration hosted just a few weeks back at Esquimalt Gorge Park – which captured past, present and future in one glorious September day.

But of course our centennial milestone year is not over yet and we have much to look forward to. And I invite you to join us in our continuing celebrations.

Looking out beyond 2012, I imagine our community continuing to grow and prosper. How can it not with the assets it possesses.

  • A proud community with wonderful neighbours.
  • A scenic community in an unparalleled natural setting.
  • A historic community with a storied maritime past.
  • A modern community that is home to Maritime Forces Pacific and a modern shipbuilding industry represented by Seaspan Shipyards.
  • A welcoming community with a healthy, active and accessible lifestyle.

Esquimalt developed naturally from its history and geography as a port township, but it was not a given that it would always exist. In fact, Old Esquimalt Village was expropriated and relocated in 1941 to make more room for military barracks, and the Township could well have been annexed by Victoria on several occasions. Esquimalt stood tall and readily expressed itself as a community of the region, of the Island, and of the Province.

I am so proud of our community at this moment. We can look back at our proud heritage, savour our centennial year in the present and imagine our rightful place in Canada’s community of communities.

We are a unique municipality, with our heritage, our community-minded people and the inspiring environment that surrounds us.

We are a community of long-term residents, some of whom have lived here for five generations.

And we are also a community of new families, starting out on new adventures, and enjoying what our community has to offer.

You may have seen an advertising campaign on television recently that forms part of our Esquimalt celebration this year. In the ad, a young Esquimalt resident exclaims “Esquimalt is my home.”

I would like to end my centennial speech with the same sentiment – “Esquimalt is my home.”