For more than three decades, George Sinclair ran Parkland Hall, helping maintain the facilities and collect funds to keep the place running.
“He did a tremendous job for all those years,” Parkland Community Club president Anna Lou Brown said prior to the meal. “(North Saskatchewan River Métis Nation) Local 269 has taken over and they’re in charge of it now, so we’re kind of retiring George and giving him a big sendoff with this supper and a great big thank you.”
Arriving with his wife Pat, Sinclair was taken aback to find a festive celebration laid out especially for him.
“I’m shocked, honest to God I am,” he said. “I never thought this was happening at all … I want to thank the local and all my friends and my family for coming out and putting on a surprise the way they are.”
Dozens of guests sat down with Sinclair for a buffet-style meal, with options including roast beef, mashed potatoes, pasta, bread, pickles and cheese.
As guests dined, Coun. Charlene Miller gave a brief speech praising Sinclair for his years of service. Brown also presented him with a gift certificate to the Venice House restaurant.
I’m going to be here for many moons. - George Sinclair
Through it all, talk consistently returned to the important role Sinclair played at Parkland Hall.
“He’s kept the hall running,” Brown said. “He’s found money to make sure that the fridges and stoves worked. He’s kept the place open for the kids to skate in the wintertime, and play different games in the summer. He’s kept the hall for different people to have their weddings … and funerals.”
She pointed out that Sinclair never charged people for holding funerals at the hall.
Although the evening’s festivities were designed as a sendoff for Sinclair, the man of the hour was surprisingly cool to the idea of ceasing his volunteer work at Parkland Hall.
“I’m still quite able to help out as much as I can, especially with day care and even down here,” Sinclair said.
“I’m not going to fall off the edge,” he added later while speaking to guests. “I’m going to be here for many moons.
“You guys are going to be getting sick of me,” he joked.