Gary was born and grew up in Arnprior, ON. In 1974 he was the manager of Eaton's for 3 years until their closing. He then became the manager of Stedman's Department store in Carleton Place, commuting back and forth for 3 years. While in Arnprior, he was President of the Kinsmen Club and ran the Canada Day festivities. In Carleton Place, he joined the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce. He worked on the revitalization of Main St., for the first time. In 1980, he moved his wife, Valerie, and family to Carleton Place.
The first project that he worked on was the design, fundraising, and implementation of McNeely Park. In 1982 the municipal election came up and the town was short one candidate for councillor. The late Alan Barker talked him into running, he went down the main street and got 15 people to nominate him and he was acclaimed, as there were no additional candidates. The first project that he lobbied for was the need for a sewage treatment plant. They were pumping raw sewage into the river. He fought for water service for Lanark St. He started the Canada Day festivities in Carleton Place. He worked on Mississippi River Days, ran sidewalk sales, arranged for 2, 25ft. Christmas Trees to be installed in front of the Town Hall, and went down the main street and collected $10 from each merchant to buy the lights. He was the councillor in charge of town-owned land.
The Lanark Catholic School Board came into the Town Hall with a cheque for $150,000 to buy 5 acres, where the Industrial Park South is now. We wanted to keep the land for an Industrial Park. He offered them 15 acres on the other side of Town, with plenty of room for expansion. They went into a meeting for 20 minutes and came out and said we will take it. They then built Notre Dame Catholic High School on the site and soccer fields. In 1991, he was watching the Sunday Edition on National TV and there was a story about an old sailboat that was built in 1896 in St. John, New Brunswick, and its name was "CANADA", the original Canada boat. There was a group that wanted to restore or rebuild the boat. In 1968, it needed extensive repairs. It was purchased by William Gamblin, who moved it and his family to Carleton Place by rail. It was later moved to Ludlow Boat Works in Kemptville. We were at the height of the National Unity crisis & there was a threat that the country would break up. Gary immediately came up with the idea to rebuild the sailboat as a symbol of rebuilding the country, "Rebuilding the Dream Called Canada". The story took off on the National News, Regional Contact, Sunday Edition, the front page of the EMC, and other newspapers.
He started a non-profit group of volunteers. He came up with an idea to do a group song, similar to "Tears Are Not Enough" & "We Are The World", and it was decided to be called "Rebuilding The Dream Called Canada". There were 3 lead singers and 6 backup singers. The next year, the group called "Ordinary Canadians" were invited to start the evening performance at 6:00 pm, on the National Stage at Parliament Hill for Canada Day 1993. CBC National News filmed the rehearsal and the event. The story was on the National News, four years in a row.
For Canada Day, 1992, he came up with the idea called, "Hands Across Canada".
Letters were sent to the Mayor's and Chambers of Commerce on the bordering towns of the provinces, asking them to participate by joining hands across the borders of the provinces on Canada Day, at 2pm EST, sing O' Canada, and sign long white ribbons with red markers. The event was covered before and after by CBC and CTV National News. That year he was the President of the Chamber of Commerce. The project was sanctioned by the National Chamber of Commerce. We know that at least five provinces in a row including, Hawkesbury, ON and Grenville, and QUE, participated.
In 1995, it was the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Flag and the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Gary did a project called, "Carleton Place a Bridge To The World". Residents and Embassies donated 60 International flags. Carleton Place Hydro hung them from the light standards from the Town Line Rd. out to Coleman St. There was a flag raising ceremony in St. James Park with William Bigras from Carleton Place, who was part of the colour party that raised the Canadian Flag for the first time on Parliament Hill, and Jeffery Pearson, the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and the son of Lester B. Pearson, Judge John Mathieson, the man most responsible for the design of the Canadian Flag and two UN Peacekeepers. The event was covered by CBC National News.
The day before the 1995 Referendum in Quebec, Gary felt compelled to go to the rally at the Museum of Civilization where Prime Minister Jean Chretien was to make the most important speech of his lifetime. Gary's goal was to have the song played at the event. He was late going to the event but managed to get in the receiving line and was the last one to shake his hand. He was so close that he stood on the stage in front of one of the totem poles. When he was finished his speech, Madam Chretien walked in front of him, and he handed her a copy of the song. Gary received a Christmas card for the rest of his term. After he finished his term, Gary sent him a letter, telling the story, Chretien called and left a thank you message on his answering machine, leaving his office phone number. Gary called him the next day and they talked for half an hour. He thanked Gary for his work on National Unity. These Projects were the highlight of his career. He truly made a difference in helping to hold the country together.
On Flag Day, Feb. 15", 2006, Gary launched a project called "Sign the Canadian Unity Signature Flag" in seven local schools, raising money for the local Food Bank. He then created several flags in Supporting Our Troops. He presented the Defense Minister, Peter McKay, with 3 flags that he took to Kandahar and presented to the troops. At least one flag hung in Canada House. Flags were created on Red Friday and the National Day of Honor, that was later presented to General Tom Lawson, the head of the Military in DND Headquarters.
On the 9th Anniversary of 9/11, Gary and Robert McDonald presented a flag that was created in Lanark County by the Para meds, Fire Departments and Police Departments to the American Embassy in Ottawa.
On the 10 Anniversary of 9/11, Canadians from across Canada paid tribute by creating six flags on Canada Day. Emails were sent out to the Mayors of the Provincial Capitals and the Premiers, asking them to participate. Gary presented the first flag to the head of the Para meds, who was the first person that he ran into in New York. The second flag was presented to the closest Fire Station, across the street from Ground Zero. CBC and Sean Kirkpatrick with Canadian Press covered the story. The third Flag was presented to the Ghost Buster Fire Hall. The Canadian Press story was featured in the Toronto Star and Huffington Post.
Gary was put in charge of the project to raise money, raise the root, oversee the building of Market square and the Farmers Market. He sold several hundred patio stones with people's names carved in the stones. The project was officially opened on Saturday, May 12, 2012.
In 2012, Gary and Wendy LeBlanc, lobbied the Minister of Defense, Peter McKay to bring the Afghanistan Monument to Carleton Place, to go along with Canada's Veterans Hall of Valour.
In 2014, Gary took on the project to rebuild the International Cairn in St. James Park on Bell St. Residents and Embassies donated 40 new stones. Several Embassies came for the unveiling on August 16, 2014.
Gary convinced the council and staff to share in the cost to install turning lanes into the new MVCA building and to Roy Brown Park, from Hwy. 7, for safety reasons.
Gary got a Community Safety Zone for Patterson Cr. around Arklan School and
Carleton Place Day Care.
In the summer of 2012, Doug Snedden offered to clean the river if Gary could help by getting permission from MVCA and the Town to truck away the tons of garbage. Gary had their permission in one morning with two phone calls. Doug cleaned most of the river within the Town limits. It took several summers. If the Town or MVCA hired a company, it would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if they could even find a company. In Gary's opinion, Doug is an Outstanding Citizen.
Gary served 15 years, 5 terms on the council, 25 years as a Director on the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce, and 3 years as President. He was the Parade Martial, for many years for the Santa Clause Parade.
In May 1984, he created Strike Force Advertising and Flyer Delivery. In 1990, he purchased New Horizon Printing covering Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills, 10,000 homes, with 20 part-time employees. In 2004, he sold his business to Runge Newspapers and was hired on contract to run the business.
In 1998, Gary inspired Lyle Dillabough to write the song, "Proud Canadians". The song was featured on CTV on Canada Day. In 2017, they produced the music video.
In 2013, his mother was living at Stone Ridge Manor. The Manager told him that they had plans to build a new building. Gary advised him to talk to the Town, about the Town-owned land, that was set aside for Health Lands.
For the last 7 years, he has served as coordinator for the Salvation Army, running the campaign in Carleton Place.
On Saturday, December 7", 2022, at the Towns Annual Appreciation Night, he was named Carleton Place's "Citizen of the Year."
Gary's biggest achievement was playing a key role in National Unity, helping to hold the country together.
He surely achieved his goal.