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The History of the Corkery Community Association
Corkery is a small, friendly, family-oriented rural community in West Carleton-March in the city of Ottawa, Canada’s national capital. The area was settled in the nineteenth century by a group of approximately 100 Irish families from the County of Cork, known as the Peter Robinson Settlers. Now over 4600 people reside in our community (2011 Census).
Birth of The Corkery Community Association
Did you know that the original name for what we now call “The Corkery Community Association” was “The Upper Huntley Community Association”? Although the name Corkery Community Association had been commonly used in the area and with the City of Ottawa for a number of years, this name was only formerly adopted by Association members at a formal meeting of members September 21, 2004. Shortly afterwards, our Incorporated name was changed to reflect this as well.
A determined group of Manion Road and area residents decided that they wanted some local recreational facilities for their young children right about the same time that West Carleton Township performed a recreational needs study (Sesquaig Report) validating this desire as a need. Upper Huntley had in excess of 40% of Huntley’s total population but had virtually no facilities to call their own.
Land is Available
Resident Gerry Pingitore remembered his neighbour John Burke telling him that John’s father (Joseph Burke) and John’s uncle (Austin Burke) had given a parcel of land to the Township to facilitate the initial development of the Burke Manion subdivision. This parcel was to be used for a Fire Station or a park. When Gerry contacted the Township recreation director, Carol Davis Jamieson, he was told that Upper Huntley had not expressed any interest to them directly or through the Huntley Community Association with regard to utilizing this land for recreational purposes. Immediate action sprung from this mobilizing statement. A Steering Committee comprised of Gerry Pingitore, Andrea Tiessen, Wayne McKnight, Laura Murray and Mel Scott was formed.
Since it appeared that Upper Huntley was more likely to gain local recreational facilities by forming its own association rather than working through the Huntley Association in Carp, the Steering Committee drew up a questionnaire to elicit input from area residents. The questionnaire introduced this idea by stating clearly that they desired to compliment the Huntley Association rather than to compete with them but that future funding required some sort of organized association be linked with development. In the summer of 1989, residents of 600 households were asked if they felt the need for a more local recreational association, would they participate in association activities, to prioritize activities offered, if and how they would assist in the operation of the association as well as the ages and number of children in their household. The survey confirmed local interest in forming their own Community Association and laid out the order in which facilities should be built at the site. Residents wanted a soccer field as a definite first step, then a baseball diamond. The original goal of the park initiators was a simple play structure for their young children. However, survey respondents ranked this play structure as the third priority. So the Steering Committee had to form an association to obtain funding to build a soccer field and a baseball diamond in order to get their original goal of a play structure.
The Association is Formed
Gerry made a presentation to Council requesting that the Township (Mayor was Eric Craig at the time) to welcome a seventh community association. Interim executive consisted of Gerry Pingitore as President, Mel Scott as Vice-president, Dorine Wynen as Treasurer, Margherita Conti as Secretary, Wendy Coniam, Pierre Gravel, Wayne McKnight, Laura Murray and Andrea Tiessen as Directors. The Upper Huntley Community Association was formally recognized February 1990 and held its first Annual General Meeting March 6th at St. Michaels’ School Corkery. Gerry Pingitore was honoured to become the first president of The Upper Huntley Community Association. The first UHCA Board of Directors consisted of Mel Scott as Vice-president, Dorine Wynen as Treasurer, Margherita Conti as Secretary with Debbie O’Keefe, Wayne McKnight, Thomas Ford, Sally Bradley and Hildegarde Anderson rounding out the executive list.
1990 was a busy and exciting year for UHCA members and the community served by the newest West Carleton Community Association. Membership in a community association was required for registration in recreational programs so UHCA encouraged local residents to put the required fee back into their community and their building efforts by joining UHCA. Membership fee was $15.00. Member Wendy O’Keefe designed the logo used by UHCA on its advertising, letterhead and on the regular newsletter which informed residents of the association’s initiatives, projects of other local groups and items of general interest. This newsletter outlined the successes of the young organization. During their first year of operation, UHCA produced their constitution, obtained Incorporated status, pursued and obtained re-zoning for the future park (November 20, 1990) and developed the site plan for the parcel of land adjacent to the firehall on Old Almonte Road. All of this was done by volunteers and without funding. In the same year, UHCA also sponsored a Neighbourhood Watch information seminar, the founding of local Beaver, Sparks and Brownie Packs and organized a family skating party. Fundraising efforts included trying to establish a monthly Bingo, raffle of a side of beef, bakes sales, concession booth at the Carp Farmers’ Market. One of UHCA’s executive, Hildegarde Anderson, was the founder of this new market which grew in leaps and bounds becoming one of the largest rural Farmers’ Markets in the Ottawa Valley in its first season. First season market sales were estimated to be over $50,000.00 with UHCA raising over $3000.00 sales at their booth alone. In the early years, projects were generally funded 50% by the province, 25% by the Township and 25% by the Community Association. Every dollar raised by UHCA was precious.
UHCA celebrated winter with its first Icicle Picnic January 27, 1991. Beans baked over an open fire, hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee, skating on an outdoor rink, specially made snow slides for the younger children, horse drawn sleigh rides and tethered hot air balloon rides brought area residents together. Plans for the future facility were available for public viewing at the Picnic.
The 1991 AGM scheduled March 4th had to be postponed until March 18th due to poor weather conditions. New members elected to the Board were Shirley Douglas, Lorraine Sutton and Donald Lafleur. When minor softball and soccer registration was held at the 1991 AGM, keen interest was expressed in T-ball. As a result the first ever Upper Huntley T-ball teams were formed. T-ball was played at St. Michael’s School baseball facility. A Bike Rodeo was held in June and the first Upper Huntley Canada Day Celebration undertaken. Firefighters from Station 5 set off the fireworks for the community party. During 1991 UHCA also organized a swim program with transportation to the Arnprior pool, sponsored a street proofing program, held a joint raffle with the West Carleton Ringette Association (prize a trip to Florida!) and joined the Corkery Firefighters in their annual fundraising Christmas tree sale. Trees back then sold for $25.00.
An October 1991 newsletter tells of the determination of proposed park site elevations, and the readiness of the final site development plan. The site plan and detailed project proposal outlining all facilities required over the next 3-5 years was to be presented to the Municipal Recreational Committee in late October. After this presentation, final approval from Council would be required in order to start the first phase. This phase included the development of a soccer field and parking lot. Application for a provincial capital grant (Ministry of Tourism and Recreation) was made and it was hoped that construction of the first phase could begin in April of 1992.
March 9th was the date for the 1992 AGM. The number of executive members permitted was increased from 9 to a maximum of 15 recognizing that Upper Huntley has many qualified residents with varied skills to offer the Association and the increased number would help share the work load of the expanding Association. The 1992 Executive lists as follows: Gerry Pingitore as President, Mel Scott as Vice-President, Margherita Conti as Secretary and Sally Bradley as Treasurer and with members Shirley Douglas, Thomas Ford, Donald Lafleur, Dario Mancuso, Michael Mulcahy and Debbie O’Keefe.
UHCA President, Gerry Pingitore, writes in fall 1992 newsletter the following: “Well, we did it! The first phase of the park development plan which included the construction of a soccer field and parking lot has been realized! These past years have seen a lot of hard work, on our volunteers’ part, to establish some facilities for your use. I would like to thank all members of the Board of Directors both past and present and in particular, I would like to thank Michael Mulcahy, Mel Scott and Margherita Conti for their tremendous efforts in making the dream become a reality! Top marks go to Dave Read and the rest of the crew at Thomas Cavanagh Construction Limited for their excellent work!” The next newsletter mentions that this same soccer field had been graded and seeded with thanks going to James Landscaping Ltd.
T-ball had another successful year with four teams playing out of St. Michael’s School. 1992 was the first year that Upper Huntley was represented by its own soccer teams and these teams were eager to really play “at home” the following season as they did now have their own soccer field.
1993 saw a change in UHCA president. Tom Ford took over this position due to Provincial ruling that limited the number of years someone can be a member of the executive. Gerry would stay for the year as Past President. Drew Fullerton stepped in as Vice-President with Sally Bradley as Secretary, Shirley Douglas as Treasurer, Mary Anne O’Keefe in charge of Memberships, Pat Lachansky and John Kroetch taking charge of Special Events, Mike Mulcahy — Park Development, Karen Taylor and Drew Fullerton– Park Management and Debbie O’Keefe, Nancy Ames, working with Gerry Pingitore and Sally Bradley on Fundraising/Market, Scott Murchison –Newsletter and Thomas Ford and Dave Read covering Sports
At the March 1993 AGM, agreement was made in principle to proceed with Phase 2 (the Ball Diamond and Play structure) in 1993. Cedar post and rail fencing was agreed upon for the soccer pitch.
To be continued…