Sault Ste. Marie's City Hall recently had a name change: as of 2020 it is now known as the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre. Obviously, if someone has earned having their name on the building they must have done some impressive things, but who exactly was Ronald A. Irwin beyond simply being a former mayor? Let's find out.
Born here in 1936, Irwin was quick to educate himself by acquiring both an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario, as well as a Law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. Later on in his life he would be elected to the position of Mayor of the Soo. He would keep this post from 1972 to 1974, and it did not take long for him to leave a mark on the city.
One of the things Irwin focused on as Mayor was urban renewal of Sault Ste. Marie, specifically the waterfront, which at the time was very different to the civic area it is today. It was a mix of commercial and industrial businesses, with one in particular, a site belonging to A.B McLean Ltd., taking up a large portion of it. In addition to negotiating another site for the company (something that would only fully come to pass many years after his term as Mayor), Irwin decided the then-new city hall would be located at the waterfront as part of this civic shift. If you've ever been pleased with the area, particularly the portion around the library, you likely have Mayor Irwin to thank for it.
Outside of his work as Sault Ste. Marie's mayor, Ron Irwin also served Canada as a whole. He worked as a member of parliament twice, once in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. In the latter period he also served as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, before having positions as Ambassador to Ireland from 1998 to 2001, and Counsul General of Canada in Boston from 2001 to 2005.
His work in Canada brought Irwin much recognition. In 1975 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, an honor given to those who make extraordinary contributions to the country as a whole. He would also be awarded the Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit, a similar honor given to people that contributed greatly to our community. Ron Irwin would sadly pass away late in 2020, but left behind a strong legacy, and of course, a fine name for a civic centre.
(Information taken from: https://saultstemarie.ca/Newsroom/September-2020/City-Hall-renamed-in-honour-of-former-Mayor-Ronald.aspx https://theborderline.ca/ron-irwin/ https://www.sootoday.com/columns/remember-this/remember-when-there-was-a-sand-and-gravel-operation-next-to-the-civic-centre-4-photos-2413284)