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Source : The Bradford Witness
Media Type : Photograph
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Circa : 1977
Author Creator : John Slykhuis
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Community : Barrie
Description : Art Evans is Honored
By John Slykhuis
BARRIE - They came to say thank you to Arthur Evans last Friday, almost 1,000 strong, including cabinet ministers, politicians from all parties, and a small portion of the thousands of friends he has made over the years.
They came to say thank you for the 17 years he held the Simcoe Centre riding for the Progressive Conservatives, and the 20-odd years before that he held political offices.
Almost a life-time of dedicated service to the people in his riding.
Art Evans and his wife Audrey arrived by limousine at Barrie Raceway to the deafening cheers of the people gathered on a cold, snowy evening.
Among the podium guests were chairman for the evening George Taylor, who succeeded Mr. Evans as MPP, Lorne Richardson, minister without portfolio, James Taylor (energy), and John Rhodes (housing).
Each had personal reminiscences about Art and paid tribute to his dedication, common sense, and honesty.
Telegrams poured in, including one from Premier William Davis who wrote, "You are one of Simcoe County's finest citizens...the accolades are well-earned."
James Taylor commented, "I came to respect the common sense and good judgement of a man who served you so well for so many years...I feel honored to have known you."
Political colleague and friend William Hodgson, MPP for York North, recalled the first time he and Art met, during the Hurricane Hazel disaster.
Art was reeve of Bradford at the time, and Mr. Hodgson deputy-reeve of King Township.
ORDER FROM CHAOS
He recalled that Art, organizer of the hurricane relief effort, almost single-handedly created order out of the chaos that Hazel wrought.
John Rhodes followed with a warm speech sprinkled with humourous anecdotes.
"I'm here to tell you the truth about Art Evans," Mr. Rhodes began, "It's fitting you held the ceremony here (at Barrie Raceway). Art's been going around in circles for years.
"Arthur was responsible for getting me elected and I've never forgiven him."
Mr. Rhodes paid a special tribute to Art Evans' wife Audrey for her unswerving devotion and support.
"For all the hours we put in, our wives put in just as many, " Mr. Rhodes said. "Arthur was successful because he had a good wife."
He concluded joking, "You've inflicted George Taylor on us, but we'll see what we can do."
Ken Tupling, Arthur Evans' campaign manager, presented a bouquet of roses to Audrey Evans and gave a summary of Mr. Evans' long and distinguished career.
He began his political career as a member of the Public Utilities Commission of Bradford, followed by terms as councillor, reeve, Simcoe County Warden, and as Bradford's first mayor in 1959.
In 1960, Mr. Evans gained the Simcoe Centre seat left vacant after the death of George Johnson, and held that seat until his retirement earlier this year.
His toughest fight, Mr. Tupling recalled, was that first provincial election in which he defeated his Liberal opponent by a slim 600 votes.
During those hectic years, Art and Audrey raised four children, John, Donald, Robin, and Cathy.
Art and Audrey received several gifts along with the accolades last Friday.
They included a grandfather clock, framed campaign poster and cartoon, and a scrapbook spanning his career.
Mr. Evans, 62, now works as a loan consultant with the Municipal Savings and Loan Corporation in Barrie.
"I don't know how I lasted the 17 years," Mr. Evans concluded. "It's a tough racket; it really is."
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