Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, I rise today to acknowledge the fiftieth anniversary of the town of Lincoln, Ontario, my hometown.
Located in the heart of the Niagara region, between the southern shore of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment, Lincoln’s story began on January 1, 1970, when three communities — the town of Beamsville, the Township of Clinton, and most of Louth — were amalgamated. Through a vote of citizens, “Lincoln” was chosen to be its name. In doing so, they honoured the name given by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to the previous County of Lincoln, which lost its status with that amalgamation.
The genius of the town’s leadership from founding mayor, Delby Bucknall, to the current mayor, Sandra Easton, was to celebrate the identity and history of the community of communities — Beamsville, Jordan, Campden, Rockway, Tintern, and my home community of Vineland.
Lincoln is a vibrant town with charm, a diverse landscape, agricultural and horticultural innovation, and tourism. It is a heavyweight in the world of wine, with approximately 50 wineries — visit them all — orchards and vineyards, and is often described as Niagara’s Sonoma Valley. My community of Vineland is home to the first and oldest Mennonite church organized in 1801 by the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The neighbouring village of Jordan is historically known as the Twenty, taking its name from the Twenty Mile Creek, about 20 miles from Niagara Falls. It is home to the Jordan Historical Museum, and it is a museum with which I have a proud association, thanks to fond memories of visiting the museum as a boy. Most recently, the Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre, as it is now known, is undergoing a dynamic establishment of a new centre, which was dedicated for construction in May of last year and looks forward to its opening next year. Traditions and artifacts from Indigenous peoples, as well as one of the earliest pioneer settlements in Upper Canada, will help us all appreciate the region and its association with agricultural and vinicultural innovation.
I owe much to my heritage. They are the community that formed me, the home which nurtured my thinking, the values of community, caring, honesty, integrity, family and work that have been essential to my career as they are to any authentic life. In so many ways, Vineland was a wonderful place to grow up. It was large enough that one could see the exciting things that the world had to offer right at home, such as a diverse population of immigrants, a rich cultural life, art, theatre, sports and more. Yet it was small enough that a young boy like me, and so many others, might experience these exciting things that aspire to a bigger life.
Today, I cherish my visits to Lincoln. I was just there on Tuesday to participate in the fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Lincoln’s fiftieth anniversary year represents a significant opportunity to celebrate the community’s rich past and bright future.
A dynamic town with big aspirations and a commitment to build a strong, diverse and vibrant community — a place to grow, belong, and prosper.
Happy anniversary, Lincoln!