In 1983, at a time when few women ran in municipal elections and even fewer were elected, Corinne Lonsdale started a political career that reached its end point this week.
The mother of three and grandmother of seven attended her final regular meeting of Squamish Council on Tuesday (Nov. 22). Mayor Greg Gardner dedicated the final minutes of the meeting to celebrate Lonsdale's long career in municipal politics.
Each member of council had words of praise for Lonsdale.
Councillor Patricia Heintzman participated in the meeting by videoconference as she was in Ontario waiting for her sister to give birth.
Heintzman recalled that on her first day on the job as a reporter in Squamish her first assignment was to go to the Royal Bank to take a picture of Lonsdale. She worked there at the time and she had just been announced as the citizen of the year.
"Who would have thought that 19 years later we would have shared six years on council together," said Heintzman.
"Thank you Corinne and now I'm getting a little teary," Heintzman said as Lonsdale wiped away tears.
Councillor Doug Race said Lonsdale's contribution to the community has been huge and Lalli described Lonsdale as a fellow councillor, friend, a mentor and a mother figure.
"My relationship, my loyalty will always be there not because of our relationship on council but because of my relationship with her outside of these chambers," Lalli said. "Corinne, thank you for your 25 years of service."
Mayor-elect Rob Kirkham said he has worked with Lonsdale on many issues over the years.
"My sense of it is that I have had the privilege of working with a living legend," he concluded.
Gardner noted that his father served the same amount of time as Lonsdale in municipal politics. Gardner's father was the mayor of Hope for many years so Gardner said he had an understanding of the amount of time Lonsdale has put into Squamish.
"On behalf of everyone who has lived in this community, everyone who is living here thank you for 25 years of incredible service to the District of Squamish," said Gardner as he presented her with a large bouquet of flowers.
Lonsdale was also given a framed eagle print and a cake in the shape of the Stawamus Chief.
A video was screened featuring short congratulation clips from friends and colleagues like SLRD representative Susie Gimse and Lonsdale's campaign manager, Judy Horth.
Choking back tears she said the video was unreal.
Lonsdale's husband and her oldest son were in the council gallery along with three of her grandchildren and Lonsdale said her daughter and youngest son were watching the Internet stream of the council meeting.
She thanked her husband, who she called her biggest supporter, and she thanked her children for their support as well.
In her final speaking opportunity as a councillor Lonsdale said she wanted to focus on the positives, but then explained that before she wrote her speech her husband wanted to know if she would mention the time one guy said he was going to go home and get his AK47 then use it on her, or the incident when she received a gift certificate for a visit to Dr. Jack Kevorkian (euthanasia activist).
When the laughter faded, Lonsdale recalled the highlights from her 16 years as councillor and nine as mayor.
She counted the creation of Quest University, the successful lobby to have B.C. Rail make property tax payments and the construction of the current Capilano University building as some of her proudest accomplishments.
Lonsdale said that she served alongside five different mayors, six different administrators and "too many councillors to count."
She said she met two Prime Ministers and visited Stornoway in Ottawa when former MP John Reynolds lived there as the interim leader of the opposition.
"It's me that needs to thank you because you are the people who put me here and let me do what I loved for so many years," Lonsdale said as she looked out at the large crowd gathered for her final meeting.
"With that mayor Gardner I guess this is it," Lonsdale said to bring her speech to an end and make way for the cutting of her cake.