CLAUDE MCINTOSH: ‘Chester' Lumley - a rags to riches story

EDITOR'S NOTE: We'd like to introduce a local columnist who really needs no introduction. Claude McIntosh has made a career out of offering opinions and insights on topics ranging from municipal politics to sports and uncovering insider knowledge that many other local journalists covet. We're pleased and excited that he has decided to join our team of local columnists, and ‘Mac' will be appearing in this newspaper, and online, as a regular weekly contributor. Please join us in welcoming him to the fold.

@R:Any kid who thinks there is not a Canadian version of the American Dream should sit down and have a chat with Edward Chester Lumley.

Lumley was a kid who grew up on the proverbial “other side of the tracks” in Windsor. A tough neighbourhood in a tough town.

He graduated from Assumption University of Windsor in 1961 and soon found his way to Cornwall as manager of the local Coca-Cola bottling plant on Amelia Street.

One day somebody suggested he run for mayor.

He had two things going against him: he was “too young” (33) and he was considered an outsider.

Funny thing happend, however.

He got elected. Won in a landslide with a campaign team big on spunk but without an Election 101 credit.

His economic blueprint kickstarted the city's sluggish economy, a charitable description for an sagging economy with 24% unemployment and an economic development manager who said we had to look on the bright side, that “We have 76% employment.”

Then somebody suggested he run for Parliament. He did. He won.

The kid from the “other side of the tracks” soon became a key cabinet minister.

Many saw him as a future leader of the federal Liberals. There were even people sitting on the Conservative side of the House who agreed.

Then, without warning, the fickle finger of fate tapped him on the shoulder and he was kicked to the curb.

Between then and now, he has parlayed a political defeat into a private sector

success story. He currently serves as vice-chair of BMO Capital Markets. The list of corporate boards he has been on or is currently serving on include Magna International,

Bell Canada Enterprises, Canadian National Railway, Daimler Chrysler and Trifty Car Rentals.

He holds the prestigious title of chancellor of University of Windsor. A few years ago Macleans magazine identified him as one of the most powerful backroom political players in the nation.

He is by all accounts, a self-made wealthy person. But he has never forgotten where he comes from. He is just as comfortable hobnobbing

with “ordinary” folks back in his adopted home town as he is with the country's rich and

powerful on Bay Street. On May 30, Lumley might have received one of his greatest honours.

The University of Windsor's state-of-the-art $114 million home for the faculty of engineering was opened. It is a world-class facility.

In appreciation for all he has done for the university, it has been christened the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation. There was no debate.

Flashback to 1976 when Cornwall city council was mulling what to call the civic complex.

The spanking new building had the former mayor's fingerprints all over it. It was his economic blueprint that convinced the provincial and federal governments to pay for the cost of the building. Yet, some railed at the idea of attaching his name to the facility. It turned into an ugly debate around the council table.

One of the opponents suggested that it was unwise to name a building after a living politician because a transgression could come back to bite the community. The guy was serious.

It was a dastardly display of political pettiness that had to be an undeserved embarrassment for Lumley.

A somewhat reluctant compromise was reached - the arena inside the Cornwall Civic Complex would bear his name.

The good folks in Windsor felt his immense contribution to his alma mater deserved more than a consolation prize.

Good for them.

 

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR Maggie Terrance tickling the ivories at the Cornwallis and

Dalt Wells on the piano at the Lloyd George Fiesta Room. ... The A and P store on Pitt Street and manager Harold Smith. The Dominion Store on Pitt Street (between Second and Third streets) which the city's unofficial town crier Reg Woodward, in his white chef's outfit, would sprint over to when a customer ordered a steak. ... Gosling's Travel Bureau (15 Second St. E.) operated by George P. Gosling, P.M. Gosling and George B. Gosling. ... When five cents got a kid a bagful of assorted candy (black balls and black babies) kept in boxes under the glass counter of the neighbourhood corner store. When you could trade empty pop bottles for candy and a bottle of KIK Cola at the same store. ... Visiting Dr. Gourlay's Adolphus Street office at 7 o'clock at night with the waiting room almost full of parents with kids in tow. ... When elementary schools taught penmanship.

 

SPORTS STUFF With most franchises losing money, the Central Canada Hockey League (nee Central Junior Hockey League) has come up with a unique fundraiser. Teams will charge players $3,750 to play next season. ... At each season's end two appointed guardians of hockey's holy grail slip on spotless white gloves before gingerly lifting hockey's holy grail out of its well-padded case. It is then ever so gently carried across a red carpet. It is placed on a cloth covered table with all the deftness of detectives working a major crime scene. This is done to prevent even the slightest smudge

on Lord Stanley's mug. And what happens next? It is handed to the champions captain who grabs it with sweaty hands and waves it not-so-gently over his head accompanied by a war-whoop. This is repeated dozens of times as the priceless cup is passed around. This raises the question of what's with the white gloves and overly cautious care by the guardian angels? ... Two days after Sportsnet magazine, in a pre-NHL draft forecast, had Colorado Avs taking defenceman Seth Jones with their first overall pick, the Avs announced that they will take forward Nathan MacKinnon. As they say, timing is everything.

 

TRIVIA Emard Lumber, one of Cornwall's oldest family-operated businesses, was first established at this site before moving to its current location on Tenth Street East.

THIS & THAT Insp. Bob Burnie ready to bring down the curtain on a long career with Cornwall Community Police Services next summer. ... The winds of change could be blowing through the council chambers in 2014. Denis Thibault not expected to seek re-election in the 2014 municipal election campaign. It would be a loss. He could be one of four current council members taking voluntary retirement. ... Roasters for the Children's Treatment Center's John Wensink roast on Sept. 13 at the Parkway Hotel include former teammates Gerry Cheevers, Terry O'Reilly and Rick Middleton. Kelly Chase will be master

of ceremonies.

AROUND & ABOUT The current city council started out with an historical footnote of sorts. Nobody can recall a Cornwall council beginning a term with three former (defeated) mayoral candidates serving as councillors: Andre Rivette, Leslie O'Shaughnessy and Denis Carr. ... Brian Sylvester was the last councillor to make a successful mayoral bid. ... Only two of the last six successful mayoral election candidates came from the council ranks. ... Filled up last week in Brockville for $117.3 a litre. The pump price in Cornwall (and area) on the same day was $128.9. .... When federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was pulled over by a Mountie for breezing through six stop signs on the Hill, he asked the officer “Do you know who I am?” Strange question for the leader of the official Opposition to be asking. The guy wants to run the country and he has to ask a cop who he is? ... You know we've lost the Canada Geese war when city hall forms a committee to study the problem.

SEEN & HEARD Will somebody in government (any level) explain the difference between a fee and a tax? My bank account doesn't know the difference. ... Instead of spending millions on security, why don't the G8 leaders switch to conference calls? Pretty hard for the well-organized, well-funded anarchists to start a riot at a conference call. ... Anytime a politician describes something as “revenue neutral” get ready for it to cost taxpayers more. ... The first two instalments of my 2013 property tax bill arrived this week. It was Angelo Lebano, as a member of council, who pushed for the penalty-free property tax instalment plan to help ease the burden. ... If you are betting on who will be named the new fire chief, put your money on Rick McCullough. ...

SLICE OF LOCAL HISTORY The free ride was over for Cornwall drivers when on June 3, 1946 the city's first parking meters went into operation on Pitt and Second streets in the downtown core. A penny purchased 10 minutes worth of parking and the beat cop handed out $1 parking tickets.

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