Five things I learned at the swearing in of the new council

Kirk Winter Headshot

By Kirk Winter

Kirk is a retired high school history teacher and coach who has had a lifelong interest in politics at all levels. Since retiring, Kirk has spent the last three years doing freelance writing of all kinds for various platforms. Kirk can often be found sitting in the press gallery at City Hall observing and reporting on the vagaries of local government.

The swearing in of a new council is like no other event for someone like myself who covers the nitty-gritty of municipal government. The pomp and ceremony is a welcome touch, and staff and council dressed to the nines makes for an impressive sight.

I also came home knowing more than I did before about a potpourri of different subjects.

Lindsay has a town crier

Town crier Athol Hart did an admirable job shepherding the newly elected council into the chambers and then proceeded to set the stage for the whole event very nicely. I know some communities like Toronto and Uxbridge take this position very seriously and that person has become a staple of special events and a must-have photograph for downtown tourists during the busy summer months.

I am not sure what Hart’s responsibilities are as town crier, but he clearly has the voice and cadence to get the attention from a room full of people.

Martin Neuland is a gifted trumpeter

Neuland, who has graced the stage at our church on more than a few occasions, performed a different fanfare for all nine individuals being sworn in.

I have never heard Martin perform as a solo artist before and it was a revelation. The man can flat-out play. He has a beautiful tone and every piece was played with a confidence that only comes from thousands of hours of practice and performance.

I have also never heard Martin perform in such a small venue before and even with the poor acoustics that the council chambers often suffer from, everyone could hear and appreciate Martin’s musical gifts that were on display.

O Canada has multiple verses

In my many years of attending public events where the national anthem has been sung, the council swearing in was the first time that I can remember that the song was sung in its entirety.

While my wife (the one with a steel trap for a mind) assures me that I have heard the full version at Remembrance Day ceremonies we have attended together, I admit that I draw a blank on those events. There were a number of people of all ages present in the council chambers looking around in confusion when the anthem did not end where it is normally expected to. Thank goodness we had a choir to carry the room through the last two verses because there were few of us who knew the words.

The Queen is dead, long live the King 

From the black mourning crepe festooning her portrait to singing God Save The King for the first time in my sixty-one-year-old life, today really drove home to me that Queen Elizabeth II is gone.

It is something to ponder that the last council to sing God Save The King occupied that council chamber in 1952.

Second, I was also unaware that the royal anthem has additional verses like O Canada apparently does. I was very proud of myself that I did not need the printed copy of God Save The King to sing the familiar first bit of the anthem, but after that I was lost.

Speaking of being lost, I am relatively sure that few under the age of 40 had ever heard the royal anthem before, and there was considerable discussion afterward what “that song” was, and what purpose it had at the swearing in of a Kawartha Lakes council.

This may be the most progressive council the city has seen in decades

The only real bit of city business during this celebration of the new council was the election of a deputy-mayor. Tracy Richardson ended up being acclaimed for the position when conservatively minded councillor Emmett Yeo could not get a seconder for his nomination of fellow conservative Ron Ashmore to allow a competitive election for the position to be held.

If Ashmore had been nominated during the last council it would have been all but guaranteed that former councillors Kathleen Seymour-Fagan and/or Pat Dunn would have seconded Ashmore’s nomination.

I think the five to four vote split that dominated the last council, with former mayor Andy Letham often having to break ties, is a thing of the past. Based on what I saw today the new split will be 6-2 or 7-1 with new mayor Doug Elmslie finding council very open to many of his ideas for the future.


  1. Joan Abernethy says:

    I absolutely love the lyrics to God Save the King – “Oh Lord our God arise, Scatter our enemies and make them fall!! Confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks, on Thee our hopes we fix, God save us all!!” So dramatic!!

    The Advocate described Doug Elmslie as a Conservative during his campaign, so why the sudden pivot to describing him as progressive? None of the councillors run for a particular party so categorizing them accordingly is counter productive. Personally, I do not want my elected municipal representatives making decisions based on partisan politics. I want my representatives to review each issue in light of how it affects his/her/their constituents and maybe even to consult with those constituents, instead of consulting a federal or political party.

  2. Joan Abernethy says:

    Kirk, you might recall the town crier gave voice to the sympathies of constituents of Kawartha Lakes during COVID-19.

    I would be interested to know what we paid the town crier, trumpeter and caterers for the inaugural party for the elites of the City of Kawartha Lakes. Just out of curiosity. Did we hire Pane Vino to cater again?

  3. Brenda Moynes says:

    Wish I had been there. Looking forward to the new council and how they will propel our city into the future, with some new and practical decisions!

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