MAC'S MUSINGS: Si Miller was one-of-a-kind, and he will be missed

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Claude McIntosh

When Bob Turner, the city's first recreation director, died unexpectantly in 1962, just a couple of years into the job, city council was faced with the enormous task of finding a successor capable of picking up the gauntlet.

Councillors didn't have to look far and wide; the sought-after successor was right in their backyard.

He was Silas "Si" Miller, a Cornwall native son who came up through the Our Citizens of Tomorrow (OCOT) program that was replaced by a more structured parks and recreation blueprint under the helm of a recreation director.

With a record number of kids, thanks to the baby boom, and a limited number of facilities, not to mention a challenging budget, Miller somehow managed to keep the train on the tracks.

When he took the reins, the spanking new Bob Turner Memorial Centre and aging Water Street Arena were struggling to meet the demand of an expanding minor hockey system with around 1,200 players along with several hockey and broomball leagues, figure skaters, and an assortment of ice rentals.

Somehow he managed to juggle all the pucks and balls and keep everyone relatively happy.

One of his greatest achievements was bringing the Depression-era Water Street Arena back to life.

With the support of the recreation committee, particularly its chair Larry Keen Sr., over several seasons the old girl was spruced up. Things like a new lighting system, overhanging heaters, plexiglass to replace the wire mess on the end boards, fresh paint, a new score clock, a new press box, refurbished dressing rooms and a Zamboni.

It was the same way with the summer parks system where the a glut of ball leagues created a demand for diamonds that overtaxed the supply. Nevertheless, Miller managed to find a way to make it all work while making improvements.

Somehow, Miller found time to coach junior B and minor hockey teams. His bantam team won the first Cornwall Bantam International Hockey Tournament, a one-day, six-team affair played at the Bob Turner Memorial Centre. A Miller-coached peewee team played in the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament.

He was a director of the Ottawa and District Hockey Association (ODHA) for eight years and served three terms as ODHA president. He also served as a director on the Cornwall Minor Hockey Association board.

His tremendous contribution was recognized in 1971 when he was presented with the coveted Jacques Richard Memorial Trophy and was inducted into the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.

Then, when he announced his retirement in 1994, the city renamed the Water Street Arena the Si Miller Arena, a fitting tribute indeed.

On Saturday, Si Miller passed away at St. Joseph's Continuing Care Centre where he had been a patient for the last two years. He was 84.

HERE & THERE Interesting that some of the same people who threw their support behind the creation of the largest sludge/waste heap (Big Ben) in Ontario, not once but twice, are opposed to the storage tanks in the harbour area. And remember when city council supported construction of a hotel in Lamoureux Park and there wasn't a single dissenting voice in the community? Then there was the council-supported consultant's report that recommended a street be constructed through Lamoureux Park. ...

Tip of the hat for Kathy Spagnolo of Casa Paolo for fitting in a couple of diners who showed up without reservations during the busy dinner period.

ROUND'N'BOUT Is there a municipal council candidate out there who has some ideas on how to save money rather than how to spend more of our money? Spending our money is a no brainer. ... Seems that with every budget the city's payroll increases. ... Let me get this straight, Preem Kathy wants to take more of our rapidly evaporating after-tax money to help increase the transit systems in the Toronto/Niagara corridor, which will help the Fibs on election day. I'd like to know what the two local Liberal contenders think about that heist.

TRIVIA ANSWER Gospel singer George Beverly Shea was born in Winchester. He was a long-time member of the Billy Graham team. Shea died last April at age 104.

TRIVIA This transport company was on Second Street West, just east of Westmoreland Avenue.

SPORTS STUFF Hard to believe that Rogers would be willing to shell out $1.3 million next season for five-minutes a week worth of Coach's Corner. ... New York Islanders' general manager Garth Snow spent the 1994-95 season in Cornwall playing nets for the American Hockey League Aces. ... Always good to see Mario Boisvert one of the dedicated behind-the-scenes, unheralded members of the Cornwall Royals hockey club. He was a member of the team's training/equipment staff for 15 years.

SEEN AND HEARD In his book on bullies, author C.K. Gunsalus zeroes in on "the victim bullies." Here is his take: "Unlike simple passive-aggression, victim bullies use accusations as weapons, and ramp up the accusations over time. Unlike a normal person, who would slink away in shame as the initial accusations are discredited, a victim bully lacks either guilt or shame, honestly believing that she/he has been so egregiously wronged in some cosmic way that anything she/he does or says is justified in the larger scheme of things. So when the initial accusations are dismissed, the victim bully's first move is a sort of double-or-nothing, raising the absurdity and the stakes even more."

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR This from a reader: "My curfew was the street lights and my mom didn't call my cell, she yelled 'Time to come in'. I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn't eat what my mom made me, then I didn't eat. Hand sanitizer didn't exist, but you could get your mouth washed out with soap. I rode a bike without a helmet. And getting dirty was okay. I drank water from a garden hose and survived." To that we say amen!

Organizations: ODHA, District Hockey Association, Cornwall Minor Hockey Association Continuing Care Centre New York Islanders American Hockey League Aces

Geographic location: Cornwall, Lamoureux Park, Ottawa Big Ben Ontario Toronto Winchester

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