2009 Recipients of the Medal of Merit
When we think of volunteers, we can come up with certain essential characteristics: energy, effectiveness, compassion, and imagination. Wilma Hambly’s long career of service demonstrates she has these characteristics. Her name is most familiar to Islanders from the family business, while her work on behalf of others, in the fields of health, sports and religion, marks her as a vital contributor to the social fabric of Island life. She is a worthy recipient of the Order of Prince Edward Island.
As recently as 2007 Hambly received the Red Cross 2007 Humanitarian Award, along with her husband Wayne, so she is no stranger to having her volunteer work recognized. However, many may not be fully aware of the depth and breadth of her involvement in health matters. Since 2005 Hambly has been a director on the IWK hospital board, while also occupying the position of president of Heart and Stroke PEI. Apart from these interests, she has a long association with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. In 1993 she became one of its directors, played a part in its annual auction in 1995, sat as chair of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation in the mid-1990s, and, in 2004, served as chair of the annual Campaign for Friends for Life of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Anyone who has volunteered for a length of time knows that despite its rewards it can also be fatiguing, so Hambly’s dedication to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is certainly worth noting.
Others may know of her work with the United Way, Alzheimer’s Society, the Salvation Army, Home and School, the mentally challenged, and the PEI Cancer Society. Hambly is an active proponent in taking positive steps to improve one’s physical health through her involvement with Tennis Canada and Tennis PEI, and her work in improving one’s spiritual health has taken the form of assisting her beloved Spring Park United Church by taking on the roles of chair of Ministry and Personnel Committee and as Elder.
In addition to all these positions, and her business affairs, as well as keeping up her own health through sports, gardening, and bridge, Hambly is committed to her family: husband Wayne, children Laura Jayne, Julie Ann, and Matthew, and grandchildren Jacob and Katherine. When one thinks of her ceaseless efforts to improve the lives of her fellow Islanders, it becomes apparent that her work is built on that strong family foundation, just as our province’s well-being, with its neighbourliness and strong charitable impulse, is built on the tireless leadership of people like Wilma Hambly. In honouring her today, of course we say something very particular about her character, and at the same time we are saying something about what we value as Islanders.
There’s been much talk over the last few years about how important bioscience and IT advancements are in helping our province progress, and no one can deny the importance of those fields. But without agriculture we could not eat and would not be where we are, and without good stewards of the land the industry would be in ruins.
As in previous years, the Order of Prince Edward Island is bestowed this year on a citizen whose work not only does credit to himself, but extends backward through four generations, and forward into the foreseeable future. Elmer MacDonald is that recipient. In the 1960s he and his brother Earle started building on their father’s farm business until, in the 1980s, they founded Mid-Isle Farms, which has come through years of massive change, crises, and shifting customer demands.
MacDonald has achieved much in his lifetime. Over the decades his expertise and business acumen have been recognized by roundtables and royal commissions seeking his advice, and by his frequent positions on agriculture boards, such as: Chair of the Prince Edward Island Potato Marketing Board, representative of the Atlantic Provinces on the Canadian Horticultural Council, Chair of the Canadian Horticultural Council, Chair of the Prince Edward Island Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, and Chair of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions. He has also served on numerous environmental committees. In 1991 MacDonald was named agrologist of the year. The citation sums this part of his career up nicely: it recognized the “contribution he made to agriculture through his leadership abilities. This was instrumental in promoting the agricultural industry in his community, his province and his country.” The land is in MacDonald’s blood, and one can be assured that his blood is in his land. The two are connected on an elemental level.
Interest in community is a major component of MacDonald’s life. To put back into his community what he has received from it, he: volunteers his time in fundraising for the Prince County Hospital; has for over thirty years been involved in the Crapaud Exhibition; and founded the Tractor Pull, and the Garden Show. MacDonald is an Elder of North Tryon Presbyterian, and works in different capacities with Maritime Electric.
There is a Chinese proverb that goes as follows: Weather is not as important as good soil, and good soil is not as important as human harmony. Elmer MacDonald, a modest man, has worked to make sure his activities have improved not only the land beneath his feet, but also that the life of his community, and the Island generally, have improved. This is harmony of intent, and makes Elmer MacDonald a worthy recipient of the Order of Prince Edward Island.
It’s the purpose of the Order of Prince Edward Island to salute those whose contributions to Island life are exceptional, and Frank Zakem is a citizen whose talents and ambition have enriched Island life in definite ways.
Many know him through his fourteen years as a municipal politician in Charlottetown, beginning as a councillor, moving on to deputy mayor, and finally as mayor. In these roles Zakem took the concerns of the people he represented to the floor of City Hall, and into meetings and consultations with those he sought to persuade through an appeal or reasoned argument. While doing municipal work he was also asked to take part in provincial committees on health care and provincial assessment. In 1993-1994 Zakem played a role on a committee looking into the matter of municipal reform, and in 1996 he became Director of the Federation of PEI Municipalities. One could say that municipal politics is where Zakem excelled.
However, that would be a one-sided view. Both prior to and after his involvement in politics, Zakem contributed to the improvement of education in Prince Edward Island. St. Dunstan’s was his first teaching post, followed by Prince of Wales College, and finally Holland College, where, as with City Hall, he moved from position to position until the early 1980s when he served as Acting President. In the 1990s he rejoined the College to work on special projects and public affairs.
Some might recall his days as a grocer, or have at hand one of the many books he’s written, such as The Neighbourhood Family-Run Corner Store Experience, or his most recent, The Basilica Recreation Centre: Before and After. Others will know of his long-standing interest in community affairs outside the halls of power. For many years Zakem served on the board of directors of the Canadian Mental Health Association, as well as the Boy Scouts, the CNIB, St. Dunstan’s, the Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to list only a few. All have benefitted from his experience and energy. Zakem also helped in the creation of the Rotary Youth Parliament, which is a venue for educating high-school students on how a parliament works while encouraging them to debate issues and contemplate a life of public service.
A constant thread in Zakem’s life is noticeable: education, and from that, knowledge. The use of knowledge, drawn from various disciplines and fields, is to make life better, richer, and more rewarding at the personal, local and provincial levels. In these ways Frank Zakem has contributed to what the Order of Prince Edward Island demands of its recipients: a contribution to the “social, cultural and economic life of PEI and its residents.”