In November 1970, a group of citizens met in the Anglican Rectory at Sharbot Lake to discuss problems shared by residents in the eight northern townships of Frontenac County – – problems, such as decreasing population, economic difficulties, lack of social services and limited community spirit.
With representatives of St. Lawrence and Algonquin College Continuing Education Departments, the group hosted a public meeting at Sharbot Lake High School on February 2, 1971. Agreement was reached that the ‘sense of community’ had to be revitalized. (In earlier years, the railroads provided a link between hamlets and villages and small rural settlements. The passage of that era contributed to residents’ isolation).
A ‘Communication Group’ was officially formed and in March 1971 the first edition of the North Frontenac News – – a mimeographed, single sheet paper – – was printed and distributed free of charge. (Mervyn Rutherford, Editor; Reverend Martin Walsh, Treasurer; Don Morrow, Circulation Manager, Ross Baker, Advertising Manager).
During that year, a Local Initiatives Program Grant was obtained to develop office space and room for any public group to hold meetings in the rectory basement, where the Clothing Depot was located until the fall of 2001.
In 1972 another grant was received for assistance in development of community initiatives. Continuing their efforts as facilitators who assisted community members in taking responsibility for community problems, the Group developed a proposal for multi-service centre funding. Two workers were hired to analyze organizational and social service issues in North Frontenac. The first of many Senior Citizens’ Clubs was organized, the Children’s Aid Society was encouraged to work at the facility, and a part-time federally funded employment office opened. In response to results of a questionnaire, the Communications Group facilitated the development of a Summer Swim Program that was co-sponsored by townships and the Sharbot Lake and District Lions Club. We continued our coordinating responsibilities with the program for many years.
With Ministry of Community and Social Services’ funding approval in 1973, the members established a Management Council and opened office space in the refurbished former rectory.
During the winter of 1973-74, a group of citizens, including some Management Council members, was brought together to discuss another vital concern. St. Lawrence College funded a worker to conduct the study which ultimately resulted in the formation of the North Frontenac Association for the Mentally Handicapped, now known as Community Living – North Frontenac.