Renfrew’s Hunter Gate park to be named in honour of Mack Wilson

Renfrew – When Renfrew town council adopted a new commemorative naming policy for municipally-owned property in June, it did not take long for one family to recommend a park in a new subdivision be named after the man who built it: the late Mack Wilson.

Led by his son Jim Wilson, it did not take much convincing from this family for council to overwhelming support the recommendation for the man who not only built and managed hundreds of residential and commercial properties in the town, but council also recognized the enormous impact he had on many charitable organizations through his quiet philanthropy and behind-the-scene donations to help some residents marginalized by socio-economic challenges.

At its October 24 meeting, council endorsed the recommendation brought forward by members of the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee. The members, along with Victoria Charbonneau, Manager of Corporate Services and Economic Development, were given the task of selecting the first town asset such as a park, bridge or building that would be named after an individual they agreed met all the criteria as outlined in the new policy.

The Town of Renfrew’s Commemorative Naming Policy provides guidance on commemorative naming of land or facilities in the Town of Renfrew,” she told council last week. “In June of 2023, the Clerk’s Department received a written request from the family of the late Mack Wilson to name a park in the Hunter Gate subdivision after the Renfrew developer.”

A report was brought forth at the August 29 Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee meeting to acknowledge that the request fit the criteria of the Commemorative Naming Policy.

Measure of The Man

When Mr. Wilson passed away on November 26, 2017, he left behind not only a number of buildings requiring management and ownership, but also a legacy that friends and family wanted to highlight in some fashion.

When the new policy was formally adopted in June, Mr. Wilson’s son, Jim, sent a letter to the town asking for consideration to name a park in the new Hunter Gate subdivision after his dad. It was the last major housing complex built by Mr. Wilson prior to his death.

Now a resident of Toronto, he listed just a few of his late father’s accomplishments.

“Mack Wilson never forgot his Renfrew roots, and indeed, despite all he accomplished, never left his town,” the letter stated. “He never stopped promoting the town, he never stopped building in the town and he never stopped giving to the town, virtually up to his last breath.”

He listed a few of his late father’s accomplishments.

· His units were purposely designed to be affordable and provide dignified homes for all socio-economic demographics of our town.

· At the same time, he developed multiple subdivisions of family homes, several of which have become some of Renfrew’s most appealing neighbourhoods, attracting families and skilled people to the town.

· In all his development work, he was very careful to always use local tradesmen, suppliers and subcontractors despite offers of cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

· He was also generous in his contributions to Renfrew facilities that made an important contribution to the quality of life in our town. A good example of this is his substantial contribution to the Renfrew Victoria Hospital.

· He devoted 25 years of hard work to the Renfrew Industrial Commission for the town. He used this platform effectively to attract some of the best employers to the town.

Mr. Wilson ended his letter with a message of hope in his father’s memory.

“The park would serve to commemorate one of Renfrew’s greatest builders, developers, philanthropists and promoters. In so doing, it might serve to motivate and inspire the next generation of Renfrew entrepreneurs and contributors to our town.”

Following Mrs. Charbonneau’s tabling of the report, council accepted the report’s recommendation that the subject park land on Eagle Avenue be named Mack Wilson Memorial Park. An official ceremony will take place in the spring of 2024. It is expected members of the Wilson family and many friends and residents will attend the ceremony. The official date will be announced after consultation with Mr. Wilson’s family.

Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader