MacMillan “Still In Shock” After Named Islander of Year
By Kent Walker
CORNWALL – Winifred MacMillan of Cornwall has been unanimously chosen as The Evening Patriot Islander of the Year for 1985, but it may be hard to convince Mrs. MacMillan that she deserves the award.
“I still think there’s a mistake,” the former schoolteacher said Monday in an interview at her home. “I’m still in a state of shock.”
Mrs. MacMillan said she spent five minutes on the phone trying to convince Patriot publisher Stewart Vickerson he had the wrong person when he telephone to tell her about her award.
“I maintained for five minutes he was pulling my leg,” she said. “It was the biggest surprise in my life.”
The judges, former lieutenant-governor J.A. Doiron, Kensington Mayor Gerald McCarville and Souris RCMP detachment commander Sgt. David Holmes, said they chose Mrs. MacMillan as Islander of the year because of her “untiring and unselfish giving of her time and energy to the people in her community; not only to the young and healthy, but (also) to the sick and elderly.”
The judges also said Mrs. MacMillan is “unselfish, inspiring, dedicated, and willing and caring.”
The judges noted there were several worthy candidates recommended for the award, and it took them several hours to make their decision.
Mrs. MacMillan was born in Victoria, B.C., to Albert and Mary Best. She moved to the Island with her father and brother when she was three years old. Her mother had died, so her father, a native Islander, returned to the Island so his relatives could help him raise his children.
She went to school in Crapaud before attending Prince of Wales College and graduating with a teacher’s diploma in 1926. Her first teaching job was in a small school in Maple Plains, near North Tryon, that same year.
She stopped teaching in 1936 after marrying George MacMillan. The newlyweds bought a mixed farm on Cornwall Road just before they were married, and they still live in the same house. This September they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The MacMillans have two sons, Gordon and Donald.
Mrs. MacMillan resumed teaching again in 1960. After teaching at Clyde River, Cornwall and Parkdale, she retired permanently in 1972.
For many years she has been active in the Cornwall Women’s Institute and several groups in the Cornwall United Church. She also taught Sunday school at the church “for years and years on end.”
Her favorite hobby is working in her large garden and her roses have won several trophies at provincial rose shows. She is often asked to create floral arrangements for church functions and weddings.
-GIVES SELF TO OTHERS-
But as the judges said, it is Mrs. MacMillan’s “unselfish and untiring” giving of herself to others that won her the award. For many years she has visited terminally ill people in hospitals, as well as elderly people and shut-ins.
“There are many people in hospital who don’t have anyone to visit them,” she said.
Mrs. MacMillan started her visits to sick and elderly people as a church elder “and it carried on from there.”
When her flowers are in season, she brings different arrangements to the people she visits.
“That’s one reason I enjoy my garden so much – I can share it with others.”
For several years Mrs. MacMillan worked as a volunteer at the Prince Edward Hospital, then at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, taking care of and playing with children in the pediatric ward.
“I’ve always enjoyed children,” she said.
One quality the judges forgot to commend Mrs. MacMillan for is her modesty.
After spending several minutes listing and describing her volunteer work, she shrugs it off as if her work is nothing special.
“Those are just things that a lot of people do.”
Although Mrs. MacMillan may think she doesn’t deserve the award, Mr. MacMillan thinks the judges couldn’t have made a better choice, although it came as a surprise to him as well.
“She’s a woman of many accomplishments, but I didn’t think many people knew it but me.
“She’s always been Islander of the year to me, ever since I married her.”
-LIST OF WINNERS-
Following is a list of the previous recipients of The Evening Patriot Islander of the Year award: 1959, Lt. Col. E.W. Johnstone; 1960, Capt. Carl F. Burke; 1961, Dr. Frank MacKinnon; 1962, Dr. E.M. Found; 1963, James T. Pendergast; 1963, Mrs. F. G. Osborne; 1965, Hon. Henry Wedge; 1966, Sister Mary Henry; 1967, Mrs. Frank Ross; 1968, Harold J. Hynes; 1969, Elmer Larter; 1970, Billy Mac Millan; 1971, Mrs. Helen Kennedy; 1972, Joseph Murphy; 1973, Dr. F.W. P. Bolger; 1974, Reginald MacNutt; 1975, Pat Rogers; 1976, Merrill Flynn; 1977, Gordon Kerr; 1978, Victor Bernard; 1979, Dr. Leo Killorn; 1980, Kay Reynolds; 1981, Arthur MacKinnon; 1982, Roy Lambie; 1983, Margaret Quinn; and 1984, Charles and Anna Duffy.