A small group had gathered at the end of the Waterfront Heritage Trail. It crossed my mind that I might be late. It was early afternoon and the sun was warm. The brightness reflected on the snow to create beautiful light, perfect for the photos I was about to take. Today was the opening of the Waterfront Heritage Trail plaque, and naturally the Barrie Historical Archive was present for the dedication.
As I stood in the midst of news reporters, cameras and iPhones, Mr. Kinzie peered at me through the crowd who clamoured to get a sound bite. With the camera to my face I quickly snapped the photo, then without the assistance of the viewfinder I just watched the moment unfold before me. As a photographer I have learned to recognize special moments like these. This was a moment for Mr. Kinzie, Barrie’s first city mayor. His kind eyes and infectious smile draw you closer. When he speaks to you its with unwavering attention. A true gentleman as he makes his way through the crowd shaking hands, and posing for photos. At 97 years young I am sure he has had many great moments, but yesterday I was there to witness a very special one.
The Waterfront Trail markers tell the story of Barrie’s history through the ice ages right up to the present day. Naming the important events, people and locations that make up Barrie’s diverse and unique history. This project was the vision of Mr. Kinzie and it is more than just trail markers, history plaques and a giant, brass Willard Kinzie and you can high five at the end of the trail. From my perspective it’s the passing on of a message and legacy of the man himself. I once read a quote from Mr. Kinzie that expressed how people who understand the history of the place they are living are often better citizens. I know this to be a true fact, the more I learn about the city of Barrie, the more I want to contribute. Mr. Kinzie has just given the people of Barrie an enormous gift, one that I am sure will impact many people over many years.
The guided trail along Barrie’s waterfront is a 6 km long historical experience of Barrie through the ages. The Barrie Historical Archive is a proud contributor of images that will adorn a number of those plaques. While it is a privilege to be associated with Mr. Kinzie in any capacity, it was truly our honour at the BHA to be recognized by him and Mayor Jeff Lehman during the unveiling of the “high-five” plaque.
“It is very exciting for the Barrie Historical Archive to be able to contribute to this important community project. Any chance we get to share and show pieces of Barrie’s remarkable history helps sustain our heritage for the future. We have so many rare and jaw-dropping archives on our website – we encourage everyone to browse our impressive online museum and experience Barrie’s fascinating past.”
-Deb Exel, Vice Chair, Barrie Historical Archive.
As the crowd began to dissipate and the cheers and applause went quiet. I watched Mr. Kinzie along with 4 generations of his family experience the magnitude of civic duty and legacy, as each one of them placed their hands in the brass high-five. Its inspiring how one wonderful idea can create position and purpose for for so many others. I know we can all learn a lot from Mr. Kinzie, but if you never have the pleasure of meeting him, I hope you will take the time to walk his trail and learn about our amazing city.
Photos courtesy of Rowell Photography