Awards of Excellence
In 2003 the City of Spruce Grove established the Spruce Grove Awards of Excellence program to recognize achievements and contributions made to the City of Spruce Grove. To be eligible for an Award of Excellence, individuals must have made a significant contribution to the City of Spruce Grove, and have achieved national and/or international recognition in one of seven categories:
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination as an athlete, a nominee must have represented Spruce Grove as an amateur or professional athlete at a national or international level.
Before a nomination of an athlete is accepted:There must be a three-year waiting period following retirement of the athlete from major competition. At the discretion of the City of Spruce Grove Awards of Excellence exceptions may be made for athletes who have won world or Olympic gold medals.
To be eligible as a team: A nominee must be a Spruce Grove-based team, representing Canada, the Province of Alberta and/or the City of Spruce Grove. The team must have competed in national,Olympic, world and major sporting competitions sanctioned by an accredited international body and have finished not lower than third place.
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination, a nominee must have made a significant contribution to the arts in Spruce Grove and have gained national or international recognition.
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination a nominee must have made a significant contribution to education and have gained national or international recognition.
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination a nominee must have made a significant contribution to the environment and have gained national or international recognition.
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination a nominee must have made a significant discovery which resulted in national or international recognition.
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination a nominee should have given or should continue to give outstanding service to the Spruce Grove community.
Conditions for nomination: To be eligible for nomination a nominee must have positively affected or otherwise made a significant contribution to the community of Spruce Grove by excelling in his/her respective discipline including accredited national or international recognition of achievements.
Nominations can be submitted online to be considered for the current year's award. Nominations received after the deadline will be considered for the following year's awards.
- Barry Medori
- Significant Achievement
Barry Medori has a storied career in hockey at the local, national and international levels, including as a volunteer, instructor, coach, assistant coach, and mentor.
He was part of the coaching team with both the Canadian Women’s National Team in 2007 when they won the World Championship, and the Canadian Paralympic Ice Hockey team when they won the World Championship in 2017.
He has also coached in a number of different leagues and skill levels, including school teams, AJHL, ACAC, NWPHL, HSL U17, and the Canada Winter Games, showing his versatility and adaptability as a coach.
Here at home, Barry was instrumental in starting the Parkland Hockey Academy where he taught for 37 years, and was also an administrator for 25 of those years at both Blueberry School and Woodhaven Middle School.
Barry also started and led a Hockey Canada skills academy with both Parkland School Division and Northern Gateway School Division from 2003-2015. This was one of the first such programs in Canada and at its peak was running three programs in Spruce Grove, Wabamun, and Onoway, with 250 student athletes from 23 schools.
A recipient of Hockey Canada’s esteemed Gordon Juckes Award, which is presented to a person for their “outstanding contribution(s) to the development of amateur hockey in Canada at the national level”, Barry has a passion for helping people reach their true potential.
In his current role as a high performance coach mentor with Hockey Alberta, Barry has been instrumental in the development of many of Canada’s top aspiring coaches, providing leadership to both these coaches and their players.
- Nathan Dempsey
Nathan is a lifelong Spruce Grove resident and while his professional hockey career took him to different corners of the world, he always managed to find his way back home between seasons.
Nathan played local minor hockey in Spruce Grove, but he had his sights on bigger rinks.
In 1991 he made his professional debut with the WHL’s Regina Pats and in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft he was selected in the 11th round, 245th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nathan spent the majority of his professional career with the AHL’s St John’s Maple Leafs where he was captain for five seasons and a three-time All Star Game player.
His most successful season was with St John’s in 2001–02 when he scored 61 points in 75 games and won the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award which honors the player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination, and dedication to hockey.
Nathan played over 850 games in the WHL, AHL, and the NHL with teams in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. He also spent the 2004 NLH lockout with the German team, Eisbären Berlin, before returning to the Los Angeles Kings for the 2005–06 season. And, in 2007, Nathan signed with Swiss team, SC Bern, for his last professional season before retiring in 2008.
At the age of 37 Nathan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and later underwent deep brain stimulation surgery to help alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
While his professional hockey career is behind him, he’s never far from the ice.
Nathan is passionate about giving back to his community and his sport – he has coached local hockey, started a summer hockey school and dedicates time to raising awareness for Parkinson’s including speaking at conferences and taking part in hockey charity events.
He leads the hockey program at the Vimy Ridge Academy in Edmonton where he is a role model and leader for his students.
Nathan lives in Spruce Grove with his wife Trisha and two children.
- Ann O’Connor
- Significant Achievement
When she was just two years old Ann started experiencing seizures. She went through a long remission during childhood and adolescence until the seizures returned when she was 20.
Ann never let seizures slow her down. She kept active, enjoyed traveling, volunteered, and had her three boys.
After years of living with seizures and many daily medications, in December 2002 at the age of 32 Ann underwent significant brain surgery in Edmonton called Left Selective Amygdalo-hippocampectomy which removed certain portions within her brain’s temporal lobe (located beneath the temple).
It was bittersweet waking up from the surgery. Ann was seizure free, but at the beginning of a long and difficult road to recovery.
Ann’s experiences helped her realize that she had a purpose – to help others.
In 2004, Ann founded an epilepsy support group, Parkland Aiming at Care for Epilepsy (PACE) to help connect locals going through similar experiences.
Ann works as an education assistant for Parkland School Division and has a deep connection to her community. Outside of tutoring elementary students and coaching local soccer, she was part of the Edmonton Epilepsy Association Board for 11 years, five of which she was the Vice President. She also served for over a decade on the RCMP Advisory Board and was a board member on the Family and Community Support Services Board.
Ann has shared her story and inspired audiences around the world as a four-time award winning keynote speaker. She has also written books, articles, and been interviewed on television about her experiences.
She wants to let others know to never give up and to never say you can't do something.
- D'arci Sutton
- Significant Achievement
D’arci is known for her incredible academic, musical, and athletic achievements and is the recipient of numerous honours and scholarships.
She is also known for her dedication to volunteer service. In 2010, her grandfather was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and D’arci was inspired to help make a difference for others living with the disease. D’arci joined up with Diabetes Canada to take on numerous volunteer roles such as campaigner, seminar moderator, and was a cause champion for the annual Lace Up for Diabetes campaign where she was nominated Banting Best Campaigner. Following that success, she was named Diabetes Canada 2020 Volunteer of the Year.
D'arci is heavily involved in the golf community of Spruce Grove and surrounding area. She began golfing at the age of four, and her passion for the game has continued to be expressed in many forms. As a junior golfer, D'arci competed in multiple regional, provincial, and national tournaments. She has since taken on a mentor role with the Edmonton Area Girls Golf Association in an effort to encourage and guide the next generation of junior golfers.
Finally, D'arci is known to have a passion for music. She was a student in the wind band throughout grade school, and is a founding member of her high school's Music Student Association. Since graduating she has continued to pursue private studies in the violin and piano, and plans to obtain her certification as a professional violinist through the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music. Currently, D'arci is attending the University of Alberta as an undergraduate student.
- Steve Arsenault
Steve Arsenault began his para ice journey in 2005 when he was named to Canada’s National Para Hockey Team. A steadying force on the blue line in his position as defenceman, Steve has competed in two Paralympic Winter Games, winning silver at PyeongChang 2018 and bronze at Sochi 2014.
In addition to being a Paralympian, Steven has won two gold medals (2013 and 2017) and one silver medal (2015) at the IPC Para Hockey Championships, and multiple gold and silver medals at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
In his youth, Steve played able-bodied hockey in Spruce Grove, but lost mobility in his hip due to avascular necrosis of the femoral head. This condition results in the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply, causing severe joint pain. A rapid growth spurt at age 10 weakened Steve’s femur and pelvis and complications after surgery caused the femur to lose its spherical shape and strength. However, rather than quit playing hockey, Steve used his industrious attitude and skills to successfully transition into the sport of para ice hockey.
Steve now works with other para ice hockey players as a mentor and coach. He currently leads Team Alberta’s para ice hockey team as their head coach and since he took on the role, his teams have yet to be defeated and have won four consecutive national championships. He also works with Canada’s National Para Hockey Development Team.
Today, Steve lives in Stony Plain and works as a general contractor. He enjoys spending time with his two daughters, Hana and Lena.
- Ben Scrivens
Ben Scrivens started his hockey career at the age of six with Spruce Grove Minor Hockey. He completed his Midget year in Spruce Grove before going on to play in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for two seasons, completing his time in the AJHL in the starter goalie position with his hometown team, the Spruce Grove Saints. During his time with the Saints, he was selected to the Northern Alberta AJHL All Star Team to play in the Viking Cup and following an MVP performance, he was offered a scholarship and opportunity to play hockey at Lynah Rink, home of Cornell University’s Big Red Men’s Hockey Team.
While at Cornell, Ben won Eastern College Athletic Conference Goalie of the Week numerous times and was named to multiple all-star teams. He was also active in organizing a Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser with proceeds being donated to the Franziska Racker Centers and The Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. As a senior, Ben earned First Team All-American honours as well as being a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in men’s National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey. It was during his time at Cornell that Ben met his wife Jenny, who was a goaltender with the university’s Big Red Women’s Hockey Team. He graduated from Cornell with a degree in Hotel Administration.
After completing his collegiate career, Ben joined the National Hockey League when he signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 2013 he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings and then he returned closer to home, playing for the Edmonton Oilers from 2013-2015, during which time he set an NHL record for most saves (59) in a regular season shutout. While playing in Edmonton, he wore goalie masks that were designed and painted by two local artists with schizophrenia to help raise awareness around the stigma surrounding mental health. Following the 2014-2015 season, both masks were auctioned off with proceeds going to the Alberta Mental Health Association and the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.
He finished his time in the NHL with the Montreal Canadians in 2015-2016 and then moved to the Kontinental Hockey League, playing with Dinamo Minsk in Belarus in the 2016-2017 season and then Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Russia in the 2017-2018.
A unique opportunity presented itself in 2018 when Team Canada asked Ben to join the 2018 Olympic Canadian Men’s Hockey Team. Ben played three games for Canada at PyeongChang 2018, posting a 1.61 GAA to help the team win the bronze medal.
Today, Ben has retired from professional hockey and returned to university where he is working towards his Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Policy and Restorative Justice.
- Jonathan Giovannoni
- Significant Achievement
Jonathan Giovannoni discovered his love for cooking at an early age. Diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just five years old, he spent a significant amount of time at home and soon found himself in the kitchen learning recipes from his Italian heritage.
Last year Jonathan competed in the televised culinary competition show Chopped Junior Canada and emerged as the winner.
He then went on to compete in Taste of Edmonton and the World Food Championships, which is an invite-only event.
Jonathan, who is just 13-years-old, is well known in the community for his catering skills and he will often share his dishes with friends, teachers and at various fundraising events.
He donated his entire cash prize from Chopped Junior Canada to the Make A-Wish-Foundation and through a variety of fundraisers, he has raised thousands of dollars for charities including Ronald McDonald House and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
- Stephanie Labbe
Stephanie Labbé, who started her soccer career at an early age with the Spruce Grove Saints, was the starting goalkeeper for Team Canada in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and helped lead Canada to a bronze medal.
She currently divides her time between playing professional soccer for the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League and with Canada’s National Women’s Team, and last year she helped bring the Washington Spirit to the league finals.
Previously, she played for several years with the Swedish Professional League and in 2014 she was nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year.
Stephanie shares her love and expertise for soccer through various coaching sessions and runs Labbé Keeper Camps for aspiring young keepers across Canada.
She is also an ambassador with Proctor & Gamble’s “Like a Girl” campaign, which is focused on giving young girls the confidence and encouragement they need to play sports.
- Lesley McEwan
If you are looking for Lesley McEwan, you most likely won't find her sitting down.
To say the world champion curler, coach, fitness trainer, mother of six and grandmother of eight likes to keep active would be a massive understatement.
"I have a huge passion for sport and for motivating and supporting other people on their fitness journeys," says Lesley, who is receiving a 2015 Award of Excellence in the Athletics category.
Lesley started curling and coaching competitively approximately 35 years ago while living in Manitoba. When she moved to Spruce Grove in 1988, she brought that passion with her and got involved as a member of the Spruce Grove Curling Club as both a coach and a competitor.
As her children got older, she stepped away from competitive curling to focus on her kids and their burgeoning sporting activities, although she still made it a priority to curl recreationally a few times a week.
And when she did decide to get back on the ice competitively, Lesley didn't hold back. She started coaching a young professional team that went on to win multiple events on the World Curling Tour. Lesley was then recruited to play for a senior ladies team that won both the Provincial and Canadian Senior Women's Curling Championships in 2012 and the World Senior Women's Curling Championship in 2013, where she was named the tournament's top player at her position.
While working as a fitness instructor at a Spruce Grove gym, Lesley also decided to challenge herself by pursuing bodybuilding, which resulted in both Canadian and World level championships in the sport.
In addition to competing, Lesley shares her love of curling by coaching other teams. Over the years, she has been a mentor both on and off the ice to several junior curling teams and is currently coaching a women's team in pursuit of the 2018 Olympics as well as a Masters women's curling team.
Lesley is an assistant trainer and project coordinator for the Alberta Fitness Leadership Certification Association with the University of Alberta. She is the Executive Director for the Physical Culture Association of Alberta, as well as a lifestyle counsellor at a local gym. Lesley is also provincial manager with SHAPE (Safe Healthy Active People Everywhere) delivering Active Transportation programs throughout Alberta schools.
"My goal is to motivate and support participants through a variety of fitness programs," says Lesley. "My classes incorporate fun, effective movement patterns, training, and education within a non-competitive environment."
She also enjoys dancing, teaching fitness classes, cycling and spending time with her growing family, having recently added four-month old twin grandsons and a two-month-old granddaughter to the crew.
Just don't expect her to slow down anytime soon.
- Darwin Park
- Community Service
Ask Darwin Park about his extensive volunteerism and his response is simple in concept, but powerful in execution.
“To me, community service means giving of yourself wherever you are at,” says Darwin, who is a 2015 Awards of Excellence recipient in the Community Service category. “I have never defined service by artificial government or organizational boundaries, but rather how I can contribute to my community in whatever way possible at that particular time.”
A modest explanation from a man who has had a consistent volunteer presence in the community since he moved to Spruce Grove in 1969.
Soon after arriving in the then Town of Spruce Grove, Darwin was hired as the Town’s first Parks and Recreation director, allowing him to be at the forefront of many “start up” projects in the community, such as spearheading the annual parade and completing the Town’s first Master Parks and Recreation plan. Many of Darwin’s projects created the foundation that have resulted in the Spruce Grove being a well-balanced and well-planned community.
Darwin was also a member of Spruce Grove Town Council from 1977-1980, leading initiatives in the area of planning, including heading up the Planning and Development Committee for several years. Then, when Spruce Grove was considering whether to move from “town” to “city” status, he was head of the City Status Review Committee, which he followed up by serving as chair of the City Celebrations Committee in 1986, the same year he was nominated as Spruce Grove’s Citizen of the Year.
But Darwin’s volunteerism stretches far beyond his work with local government. He is a charter member of the Spruce Grove Kinsmen Club and assisted the Spruce Grove Legion in 1987 by chairing the Cenotaph Replacement Program to commemorate area residents who died in a war. Darwin chaired the Parent Advisory Committee when it was first established by Spruce Grove Composite High School in 1992-1993 and he served on both the Heritage Agricultural Society and the Multicultural Heritage Board. He has also been a long-time “uncle” with the Edmonton-based Uncles & Aunts at Large organization that provides mentor services for children.
A sports enthusiast who graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education, Darwin volunteered with the 1978 Commonwealth Games, the 1983 World University Games, the 2001 World Track and Field Championship and the 2001 World Triathlon Championship. He served as a director with the 1995 Summer Games Board of Directors and a member of the 2012 Winter Games Bid Committee, successfully bringing the games to the tri-municipal region. Most recently Darwin is on the local organizing committee for the Stage 5 Finish for the Tour of Alberta that will conclude in Spruce Grove on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015.
An avid runner who took up long distance running, Darwin was the founding president of the Parkland Pavement Pounders Running Club and founding race director of the Spruce Grove Examiner Half Marathon. In 2004 he was a fundraiser and participant with Team Canada Diabetes in the Dublin Marathon for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Darwin has also cycled extensively in Canada, the United States and Mexico, twice completing Le Tour of Hope seven-day cycling fundraiser for the Kids with Cancer Society.
Darwin has volunteered extensively with the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, serving on the United Way Cabinet from 2000 to 2007 in leadership roles including campaign chair, board vice chair and board chair. Nationally, he’s a founding member of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and founding director of Natural Step Canada, which is an environmental sustainability non-governmental organization. He also volunteers for Bird Studies Canada, donating many hours to conducting annual bird counts.
He has received numerous awards, including the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilee Awards, as well as the Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Professionally, along with colleague Gerry Davies, Darwin founded Davies Park, a successful consulting firm in Edmonton that now has branches in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.
Darwin retired in 2004 and today enjoys spending time with Betty, his wife of 40 years, their two children and five grandchildren. Still an active volunteer, he also enjoys his most recent hobby of photography, frequently creating photo books for family and friends.
- Gail McGinnis
Gail McGinnis may have been a bit late to the starting block in pursuing her competitive swimming career, but no one could argue it’s slowed her down.
Mrs. McGinnis first got her feet wet as an eight-year-old with the Spruce Grove Barracudas summer swim club and within two years, she held six provincial swimming records for her age group. She continued to excel as a member of the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club before joining the University of Alberta Swim Club where she competed while also earning a degree in Physical Education.
Over the years, Mrs. McGinnis has been involved in the local swimming community as a coach, colleague and mentor. She has coached the Stony Plain Sharks, Spruce Grove Barracudas and the Masters Swim Club. With her guidance and encouragement, these clubs and their members have achieved impressive results bringing recognition to both the sport and the City of Spruce Grove.
Approximately 10 years ago, Mrs. McGinnis decided to again pursue competitive swimming and joined the Edmonton Masters Swim Club. While competing in the 40–44 age group, she set eight provincial records that are still standing. Now competing in the 45–49 age category, Mrs. McGinnis is currently ranked in the top 10 in the world in five events, is Canada’s top Masters-level swimmer in eight events and holds multiple provincial records. Most recently, she competed in the 2013 Canadian Masters Swimming Championships in Ottawa, winning 14 medals (11 gold, two silver and one bronze) in 14 events, and setting a new world record as part of the women’s 400-metre freestyle relay team.
Throughout her career as a participant and coach, Gail McGinnis has shown exceptional dedication and commitment to the sport of swimming. She has helped elevate the sport in Spruce Grove and brings great pride to the community through her passion and desire to help others succeed. The City of Spruce Grove is honoured to recognize Gail for her many achievements with this Award of Excellence.
- Ed Huber
- Community Service
Ed Huber is a long-time resident of Spruce Grove and has continually served the community throughout his life. Ed was born in Wetaskiwin in 1938 and moved to Spruce Grove in 1952. He graduated from Stony Plain Memorial High in 1956. He worked with his dad Jacob and brother Harry in running the family business Central Garage which was later incorporated as J. Huber & Sons in 1967. In June 1968, there was a fire in the shop so it had to be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate moving the gas pumps from First Avenue. After Jacob passed away in July 1968, Ed and Harry continued to operate the business until 2007 when they closed after 54 years of operation.
Ed joined the fire department in 1958 at the age of 20 and became the youngest fire chief in Alberta. This was also the year he married Isabel Lunan and they built their home, which they still live in today. Ed served as volunteer fire chief until 1976. After his time as chief came to an end, Ed continued to stay on with the Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. In 1983,when Deputy Chief Robb Jonker passed away he was asked to fill the role of Deputy Chief, which he accepted and served in that capacity until retiring from the department in 1999 after 40 years of service. To this day, Ed remains the longest serving member of Spruce Grove Fire Services.
Ed’s key achievements include receiving the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada and the Stylized Maple Leaf for extended fire service also from the Governor General of Canada.
Over the years Ed has been active in his church (Peace Lutheran) and has held many positions and is currently president of the congregation. Ed has also been involved with the Spruce Grove and District Agricultural Society. In 2010, he led a fund-raiser that raised $20,000 for the Agricultural Society and coordinated the moving of a historical water tower from a field on the east side of Spruce Grove to the grain elevator site.
Ed has also been very active in sports through the years. He played fastball with Spruce Grove North Stars when they won the Provincial Junior Men’s Championship for three years in succession in the 1950’s. He played senior men’s baseball for a number of years in the 1970’s with Grove TV. He played hockey for Henry Singer from 1955-1957, then retired. He came out of retirement in 1963 to play recreational hockey. This lasted for three years until the Yellowhead League was formed. Ed also played for 10 years for Huber’s Oilers, which was sponsored by his company. This team won many league championships. In 1976, Ed moved from senior hockey to old-timers’ hockey with the Grove team, the Oldtimers and Others, and finally retired from hockey at the age of 55.
Ed has a history of stepping up to the challenge and pledging his duty to Spruce Grove above himself. Through his sense of volunteerism, he was placed in a position of the greatest trust in the City of Spruce Grove. All of these qualities make him a most deserving inductee into the Spruce Grove Awards of Excellence.
- Lorna Kemp
Kemp is an accomplished artist in many media, including oil, watercolour, Norwegian Rosemaling and encaustic wax. Her work is featured in the Night of Artists magazine in the National Art Gallery of Canada’s archives and she was recently appointed to the board of directors of the International Encaustic Artists, based in California.
Instrumental in the establishment of the Spruce Grove Art Gallery, Lorna Kemp also plays an integral role in the Allied Arts Council. She promotes artistic creativity in others by teaching art classes and her paintings hang in local galleries and in collections throughout Alberta, across Canada and in the United States, England, France and Norway.
Lorna Kemp has held a large number of volunteer positions in Spruce Grove’s art community, including Exhibition Director for the Spruce Grove Art Gallery, and President of the Allied Arts Council. She was also a member of the task force that developed the Awards of Excellence Recognition Feature that now exists in Central Park.
“Although Lorna’s formal art education began later in life, she has taken full advantage of the opportunities that were presented to her,” said Mayor Stuart Houston in presenting the award. “In doing so, she has not only excelled in her field, but has also taken a lead role in mentoring and teaching others to excel as well.”
Spruce Grove’s Awards of Excellence were established in 2003 as a way for City Council to recognize outstanding community members who have contributed in the areas of athletics, arts, education, the environment, innovation, community service or significant achievement.
- Dr. Jason Acker
Dr. Jason Acker
Dr. Jason Acker is a shining example of how to be successful by following in the steps of your mentor.
An internationally recognized expert in the field of cryobiology, Dr. Acker earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Alberta, under the supervision of Dr. Locksley McGann, a 2005 Awards of Excellence inductee in the same category.
Through his understanding of the effects of cold temperatures, Dr. Acker’s research has resulted in groundbreaking advances in the storage and preservation of blood and tissues used in transfusion and transplantation medicine. During his graduate studies, Dr. Acker helped to develop the Comprehensive Tissue Centre, Edmonton’s human tissue bank. He has most recently used his expertise in low temperature biology to assist in the international effort to protect and preserve coral reefs from extinction.
After completing his Doctoral degree, Dr. Acker made an impression in one of the world’s most prestigious research environments. He was invited to be a Research Fellow at the Centre for Engineering in Medicine; a position jointly hosted by Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston. His contributions during his fellowship led to the publication of scientific papers in several respected journals and in the filing of numerous patents.
Dr. Acker returned to Canada in 2002 and is currently a Senior Scientist with Canadian Blood Services where he leads a national research and development program aimed at preserving the safety of Canadian’s blood supply. As an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at his alma mater, the University of Alberta, Dr. Acker mentors and trains Canada’s next generation of scientists and physicians.
Dr. Acker’s research has continued to expand the science of low temperature biology and cell and tissue preservation. He is also working to develop miniature medical devices that have the potential to revolutionize blood banking and enhance current practices for processing and testing blood products.
Frequently sought out by leading scientists and companies around the world, Dr. Acker is often called upon to provide expert advice or to testify as an expert witness in legal cases. He is a respected mentor to his graduate students, and has opened his laboratory to high school students from Spruce Grove, to give them an introduction to research.
Aside from his dedication to his chosen career, Dr. Acker has also made a significant volunteer contribution to our community. He served for three years as chair of the City of Spruce Grove’s Recreation Advisory Board, and is currently an alumni member of the Let’s Talk Science Partnership Program.
The City of Spruce Grove is proud to induct Dr. Jason Acker into our Awards of Excellence for Innovation.
- Jim Titley
- Community Service
Jim Titley has been contributing to the lives of Spruce Grove’s youth for more than 41 years. Since 1968, when he joined his brother Bill as head coach of the Spruce Grove Elks’ Boxing Club, he has been a role model and mentor to our young people.
Recently named Boxing Coach of the Year by Boxing Alberta, Jim trained another Awards of Excellence inductee, Kelly Perlette. Throughout his coaching career he has been known for his dedication and commitment to the sport, and also to the young people he trained.
His coaching style emphasized technical skills and fitness, along with self-discipline, self esteem, teamwork and good sportsmanship. In supporting his nomination, his former students have also noted that he always made it fun, instilling in each athlete a sense of belonging to a family.
Perhaps most notable in the recommendations and supporting documentation for this nomination is the recognition that Jim Titley has done more than promote boxing and train athletes. He has also instilled in countless young people the values and attributes that make them remarkable people in their own right.
Under Jim Titley’s guidance, these young people have learned to be compassionate, caring and generous individuals. They have learned to treat others with respect and to give freely of their time and talents. He not only taught them to be fair in competition but also in life. In many cases, he helped young people turn their lives around to become positive contributors to society and ambassadors for Spruce Grove.
They also point out the fact that he made many sacrifices for his boxing family over the years, including spending time away from his family, thousands of miles of travelling and opening his home to visiting athletes.
Jim Titley is also described as an extremely humble man who does not even realize the impact that his time and commitment have had on the youth of Spruce Grove.
Jim Titley is a model of the positive attributes of exercise, good health, self-discipline, fair play, leadership, sportsmanship, personal commitment and dedication to his students. He is a most deserving inductee into the Spruce Grove Awards of Excellence.
- Cindy Barratt
Cindy Barratt was born and raised in Spruce Grove. A desire to travel and experience life abroad has lead her throughout the South Pacific, Greece, Italy, and Great Britain, as well as to many locations in Canada and the U.S. In 1985, Cindy married her husband, Dave, in Australia, where they lived for two years before returning to settle in Spruce Grove. From an early age, Cindy loved art and started oil-painting classes at the age of 12. In 1991, after several years of secretarial work, she decided to pursue art as a full-time career. Cindy is self-taught and has supplemented her professional development with University of Alberta extension courses and numerous workshops.
For many years, Cindy primarily worked in watercolour or acrylic with the focus of capturing flowers, their beauty and personalities—what she calls their “souls”. In recent years, she has broaden her scope of work to include landscapes, especially the flora and fauna of conservation and natural areas in the hopes that she can educate and inspire others to protect and conserve natural areas and the species that live in them. Her multi-media exhibition, A Conservation Portrait – Natural Habitats and Species, featured the Greater Coyote Lake Conservation Area, where Cindy spends the summer months enjoying nature at her country retreat. Cindy is currently developing new work featuring the Wagner Natural Area (just east of Spruce Grove) which will be exhibited at Profiles Gallery in St. Albert in November 2008.
Cindy is very active in the arts community. She was instrumental in the acquisition of the Little Church Gallery, which became the home of the Allied Arts Council of Spruce Grove until their recent move into the Melcor Cultural Centre. She served as president and other executive positions with the Allied Arts Council from 1991 to 1995 and from 1997 to 1999, and continues to volunteer in various capacities. She served with the Federation of Canadian Artists, Edmonton Branch, from 1994 to 1997. From 1996 to 2000, Cindy served on the provincial council of the Alberta Society of Artists as exhibition chair and from 2005 to 2007 as a councillor-at-large. She currently serves as the Alberta Society of Artists Public Art Lecture Co-ordinator and teaches classes and workshops at Metro Continuing Education in Edmonton, the Allied Arts Council in Spruce Grove and various communities in Alberta.
Cindy's work can be found in the collections of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Alberta Treasury Branches, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, City of Regina, and the Melcor Developments Municipal Art Collection of the City of Spruce Grove, as well as many corporate and private collections. She is represented by the Spruce Grove Art Gallery, Candler Art Gallery in Camrose, Leighton Art Centre in Calgary, and the Pacif’ic Gallery in Saskatoon.
- Dr. Donald F. LeGatt
Dr. Donald F. LeGatt
Dr. Donald LeGatt is a respected clinical laboratory professional, scientist and educator who has achieved national and international recognition for his work in improving the health of Albertans and is one of Canada’s leading scholars in the field of drug monitoring. Known for his commitment to innovative approaches to solving problems related to clinical toxicology, Dr. LeGatt has made scientific contributions of international caliber in the area of therapeutic drug monitoring and has provided leadership in establishing clinical practice guidelines for the investigation of the poisoned patient.
Born in Regina and raised on a farm near Melfort, Saskatchewan, Dr. LeGatt completed his BSC and PhD in Pharmacy (Toxicology major), from the University of Saskatchewan in 1975 and 1979 respectively, and moved to Alberta with his wife, Denise, to pursue advanced training in the Neurochemical Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Alberta. . In 1981, he became Head of the Toxicology and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Laboratory at University of Alberta Hospital, a position he still holds today. He is also a Consultant Toxicologist at DynaLIFEDx Laboratory, Edmonton.
As a Clinical Biochemist, Dr. LeGatt works with physicians and scientists to evaluate new instruments and develop tests to measure the newest drugs used to treat patients. His particular area of expertise is in the monitoring of drugs used by patients who have received organ transplants and the detecting of illicit drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis in patients with addiction problems. His research has focused on understanding how drugs and medicines are broken down in the body and how to monitor the drugs to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate dosages to treat their diseases effectively.
Don is a Founding Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Clinical Biochemistry and has been a member of the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists since 1983, and of the International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology since 1990. He received a Capital Health “Esprit de Corps” Recognition Award in 1997 for his supportive efforts during the period of massive laboratory services re-organization in Alberta. In 2004, Dr. LeGatt was awarded the Certificate for Meritorius Service of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and in 2005, he received a Capital Health REACH Award for Innovation Excellence in recognition of his leadership accomplishments. In 2007, he was the recipient of Capital Health’s Long Service Award for his 25-year commitment to the provision of laboratory services in the region. His interest in toxicology has also led him to be a major player in the war on drug abuse in Alberta, particularly in regards to methamphetamine. He has given presentations on the topic throughout the province, speaking to health care professionals, law enforcement officers, social workers, hospital administrators and emergency-response personnel on the role of the clinical laboratory in this fight. His work with the drug-testing organizations of both the 1983 Universiade and the IAAF World Championships in Athletics reflect his interest in ensuring that amateur sport remain drug free. He has over 100 publications, abstracts and book articles to his credit.
Don has a long-standing history of excellence in teaching and mentoring as well. As an educator, he is known for his enthusiasm and wit and for his outstanding dedication to his undergraduate and graduate students, medical residents, physicians, and other health care professionals. In recognition of this, he received the 2005 Education Excellence Award from the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists.
Don and Denise and their two children, Jeffrey and Lauren, have made Spruce Grove their home for the past 27 years. Denise is a hospital pharmacist at the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton. Both Jeffrey, 24, and Lauren, 22, are employed by Capital Health, as a Respiratory Therapist and Occupational Therapist, respectively. Don enjoys cycling, gardening, and as a long-standing member of the St. Joseph and now Holy Trinity Catholic Parish, singing in his church choir.
- George B. Cuff
- Community Service
George B. Cuff
George Cuff has a Canada-wide reputation as an advisor, consultant, teacher, and author on the art and principles of governance and the elements of effective organizations. His background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree (with distinction) from the University of Alberta and work experience in banking, oil and gas, recreation administration, environmental protection, local government and the private sector.
George Cuff began work as a consultant in 1976 with the then Alberta Department of Recreation, Parks and Wildlife, where he acted as an advisor to recreation boards and local governments. He served four terms as mayor of Spruce Grove having been first elected in 1977. George was mayor at a very dynamic time in the history of Spruce Grove, when an unprecedented amount of development took place and new subdivisions like Millgrove (North and South), Woodside and Grove Meadows were added on. During his four terms as mayor the following events occurred:
- Parkland Ambulance Authority was established
- Horizon Stage was conceived and built
- Henry Singer Ballpark was established
- The Shenfield Centre was built and named
- The Allied Arts Council was conceived and established
- The Juried Arts Show (now the Open Art Competition) was initiated
- The annual Mayor’s Awards for honouring local citizens were established
- A rural-urban cost-sharing agreement (one of the first of its kind in Alberta) was entered into by Parkland County and Spruce Grove
- The Edmonton Regional Mayors’ Committee was established and led by Spruce Grove
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment during Mr. Cuff’s period in office was the creation of the City of Spruce Grove. Following its incorporation as a village in 1955 and a town in 1971, George Cuff and his Council oversaw the historical process leading to the incorporation of Spruce Grove as a city in 1986. George retired as mayor in 1989.
In his private life, as principal of George B. Cuff & Associates Ltd., George has focused on providing advice and counsel to rural and urban governments, provincial departments and agencies, and other groups involved in public service. His work has become more focused over time on the art of governance and the elements that help organizations become more effective.
George has published over 200 articles on local government and governance, as well as two books, Cuff’s Guide for Municipal Leaders, Volumes One and Two. In addition to having chaired numerous boards and committees, George is also a Past President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (1982-83) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (1988-89). He subsequently received the Award of Excellence from both of those organizations. George was also recognized as one of Alberta’s outstanding citizens by being awarded the Centennial Medal marking Alberta’s 100th year of incorporation (2005). He was honoured by his profession in 2007 when he was awarded the designation, FCMC, as a Fellow of the Canadian Management Consultants’ Association.
On a personal level, George is married to Arliss and they are the proud parents of three daughters, and ‘granny’ and ‘grampy’ to six grandchildren. Both George and Arliss are very active in their local church, Parkland Baptist, in Spruce Grove and supportive of a ministry in Romania. The proceeds of George’s writing go towards supporting a children’s camp in northwestern Romania.
- Kelly Perlette
Kelly started boxing at the early age of 11. He trained initially at the Spruce Grove Elks Club, the first service club in Spruce Grove, under the direction of Bob and Jim Titley. When Kelly was 14, he trained in Edmonton under Paul Hortie, who was a big influence and a great trainer for the young boxer. Kelly’s career was outstanding. He was Alberta Provincial champion nine times and Canadian National champion five times.
In 1977, he competed internationally in Ireland and in 1978, Kelly was one of only two western Canadians on Canada’s Commonwealth Games boxing team; and the only Albertan. Despite a badly-cut eye, a cut forehead, and a suspected broken nose, the light-middleweight defeated three men in four days to win the gold medal for Canada -- the first Canadian boxer in sixteen years to win gold.
In his honour, Mayor George Cuff and the Town Council declared August 11, 1978, “Kelly Perlette Day” in Spruce Grove.
In 1979, Kelly went on to win the bronze medal while competing in Greece at the Acropolis Cup. He was also selected to the 1980 Olympic Team, which unfortunately boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games.
Winning numerous Golden Gloves in Alberta, British Columbia, and in the United States, Kelly has won widespread admiration and respect for his skill, determination, and sportsmanship. He currently resides in Edmonton with his wife, Elaine, and their three children Craig, Tim and Matthew.
- Michael Jorgensen
Michael Jorgensen is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker with a passion for storytelling.
In 1997, Michael founded Myth Merchant Films. Myth Merchant’s first production, Battle of the X-Planes, in 2003, was honoured with an Emmy Award for best Feature Length Documentary. Battle of the X-Planes is the story of the competition between Boeing and Lockheed in the development of the ultimate high-tech fighter. It tells a saga of designers and pilots pushing the envelope against high stakes and of the attempt by the Pentagon to change its way of doing business. The program not only gained the distinction of being the highest-rated show in NOVA’s thirty-year history, but also marked the first and only time that the U. S. Department of National Defense allowed a filmmaker an inside look into a major defense competition. This being Myth Merchant’s first production makes the whole feat quite overwhelming.
In 2004, Michael wrote, produced, directed and was the cinematographer for the HDTV production, Lost Nuke, for the Discovery Channel. Lost Nuke reveals the untold story about the Americans who accidentally crashed a plane on the B.C. coast in the early 1950s with a nuclear weapon aboard. This film was awarded Best Documentary from the Canadian Society of Cinematographers, as well as eight ‘Rosies’, the award of the Alberta Motion Picture Industry.
Over the past 20 years, Michael has earned over eighty national and international awards for writing, producing, directing and cinematography, including Best International Feature from CNN. He has also received honours from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the New York Film Festival and the Canadian Society of Cinematographers.
Michael recently acted as the producer for the six-hour series, Mars Rising. Set to air on the Discovery Channel in the fall of 2008, the $6 million production chronicles the scientific and technical efforts to launch the first human mission to the Red Planet. Currently Michael is in production on two Discovery Channel specials: Dinosaur Resurrection which follows the scientific investigation into the world’s only dinosaur cadaver and Arctic Exhumation, a forensic investigation into the identity of the Mad Trapper.
We have been truly blessed to have such a talented individual from our community accomplish such remarkable goals and we are very proud to have him recognized in the industry as “Spruce Grove’s filmmaker”. We look forward to many more great productions from Michael Jorgensen.
- Stuart Barnes
Stuart Barnes was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1970 right here in Spruce Grove. His career in hockey began at the age of 12, when, showing early promise, he was chosen by the Canadian National Hockey Association to take part in a summer camp at the University of Alberta.
In his junior career, Stu was a major scoring sensation with the Western Hockey League's New Westminster Bruins and Tri-City Americans, winning the Jim Piggot Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 and the WHL Player of the Year in 1988-89. In the 1989 NHL entry draft, Stu was drafted 4th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. In December 1990, he played for the Canadian National Junior Hockey team, where he and his teammates won a gold medal for Canada in Helsinki, Finland.
In 1993, the Winnipeg Jets traded Stu to the Florida Panthers, where he went to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Colorado Avalanche. Then in 1996, the Panthers traded Stu to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1999, he was traded again to the Buffalo Sabres. In Buffalo, he went to the finals again, this time against the Dallas Stars, only to lose on a triple-overtime goal. He served as the captain for the Sabres before being traded to Dallas in 2002-03 where he helped the team win a division title.
In his first game for Dallas, Barnes had to be reassured that the fans were not booing him because of his status as a former Buffalo Sabre. They were, in fact, yelling "Stu" whenever he touched the puck.
Here are some of Stu’s milestones. He won the Prince of Wales Trophy in 1996 in the Eastern Conference final with the Florida Panthers. He repeated this feat in 1998 with the Buffalo Sabres. In the 1997-98 season, he scored 30 goals, had 35 assists and earned 65 points, a career high. In 2001, Stuart was named the assistant captain of the Sabres, and helped lead the team to win more games than ever in a single season. That same season he won the Punch Imlach Award for his dedication and leadership. He won the same award the next year when he was named captain of the Sabres. He played in his 1,000th NHL game in 2005-06 with the Dallas Stars, his fifth NHL team. Only 212 players have ever reached that goal. Currently playing centre for the Dallas Stars, Stu continues to be a commanding force on the ice.
Stuart Barnes has been and continues to be, an outstanding ambassador for Spruce Grove. His contributions to the game of hockey extend further than just our city limits. Stu’s integrity, dedication and love for the game are an inspiration to our community. He is a role model of what hard work and determination can accomplish.
- Allan Shenfield
- Community Service
Selfless. Tireless. Visionary. These are words used to describe Mr. Allan Shenfield. Though he’s never technically lived within the borders of Spruce Grove, this man of action has impacted the lives of literally tens of thousands of people in the city and beyond. His impact can only be described as immeasurable and his achievements remarkable.
Allan Shenfield was born and raised on a farm just north of Spruce Grove. The farm is now his, and the retired farmer still resides there with his wife Maxine to this day. His history of volunteerism and service started at an early age. Mr. Shenfield joined the 4-H in 1942. He quickly rose through the ranks and became the leader of the Spruce Grove 4-H Grain Club in 1949. During his time with the group, he helped found the 4-H Foundation, a nonprofit charitable foundation to build and operate the Alberta 4-H Centre. Mr. Shenfield was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame in 1982, and continued to serve on the foundation until 1991.
As a farmer, agriculture and the rural way of life has always been near and dear to his heart. He’s a proud farmer, and he’s worked tirelessly to improve and promote agriculture in the community. In 1949, he worked with the Spruce Grove Electrification Association in bringing electricity to rural Spruce Grove.
His work in agriculture extends beyond Spruce Grove’s border. He initiated and oversaw the building of Northlands Agricom, a project that allowed farmers from all over Alberta to bring in their livestock for shows and sales. Today, the Agricom is a well-used facility for large-scale functions including trade shows and exhibitions.
In 1972, Mr. Shenfield formed the Spruce Grove and District Agricultural Society to enhance and promote the local farming industry. One of his dreams was to create a multipurpose agricultural and recreational facility. In 1974, after years of fundraising and volunteer hours, the Agrena doors were opened. He continued to serve on the Ag Society executive as vice-president and president until 1998.
Mr. Shenfield believes strongly the betterment of the community as a whole. In 1967, he became the Chairman of Hootenanny Days, a citywide summer celebration. In the late 1960s, he was one of the founders of the Society for the Expanded Recreational Complex. Today, you know it better as the Serplex, a joint-use school and community use facility.
Having helped build the Serplex and then the Agrena, Mr. Shenfield’s vision moved onto yet another project – the creation of a seniors’ centre where people could meet to socialize, play cards, read and play games. The centre opened in 1990 and continues to serve Spruce Grove’s seniors today.
Mr. Shenfield’s list of accomplishments goes on. He’s been the leader of the City’s recreation board, Golden Age Club, Spruce Grove and District Chamber of Commerce, Spruce Grove Teen Club, and was a charter member of the local Elks Club and Lions Club.
Though he has received the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilee medals, and having had the Shenfield Civic Centre named in his honour, Mr. Shenfield remains humble. He is quoted in a local newspaper saying, “I guess God put me on this earth to do something for somebody else.” It is with honour that the City of Spruce Grove gives back to a man who has given so much of himself.
- The Funk Rink
The Funk Rink
Eighteen years ago, nobody would have thought a group of unassuming teenage girls from the small town of Spruce Grove, Alberta, would rise to the national, and then international spotlight, in the sport of curling. But that is exactly what the Funk Foursome, better known as the Funky Four, did.
The team consisted of sisters LaDawn and Laurelle Funk, Cindy Larsen and Sandy Symyrozum. Under the careful tutelage of Carole Larsen, the girls were transformed from regular high school students to international curling champs in the course of two years.
In 1987, the team first tasted success. They won local and provincial qualifiers and earned the right to be Team Alberta at nationals. That year, the team gained valuable experience on the national stage, but failed to make playoffs.
Pushed forward by the momentum of that experience, the Funky Four trained hard the next year, and went on to represent Alberta at the national level once again. At the 1988 Pepsi Canadian Junior Curling Championship, Team Alberta was the underdog, up against top-seeded Team Manitoba in the finals. The Funk rink dominated, with LaDawn curling at 90% and the other three girls at 85%. They won the nationals in a 6-3 victory, and with it, the right to move on to the 1989 World Junior Championship.
With one year to prepare for the World Championships, the athletes travelled extensively, competing in bonspiels and games across Canada and Europe. The magic continued to prevail, and the young women continued to improve and bring their level of play even higher.
In 1989, the Funk Rink played before a packed house at the World Junior Championship. The women had home ice advantage, playing in Markham, Ontario, and once again, showed the world what they were made of. Spruce Grove’s Funk Rink came out the Gold Medal Champions and returned home as champions!
Fast forward to today. Coach Carole Larsen and Third Sandy Symyrozum still live in the Spruce Grove area, while Second Cindy Larsen resides in Androssan. Lead Laurelle Funk and Skip LaDawn Funk now live in Calgary. All of the women continue to curl in their respective communities.
Though the women have spread across the province to find their livelihoods, the City of Spruce Grove will always associate their names with the excitement of their World Championship. The Funky Foursome is, and will ever be, a piece of Spruce Grove’s athletic history.
- Vivian Thierfelder
To the average person, it’s just a bowl of fruit or an arrangement of flowers in a vase. To Vivian Thierfelder, it’s inspiration.
The world-renowned artist has been exhibiting her work for 37 years. Ms. Thierfelder received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alberta in 1970. After working in the graphics industry for a number of years, she decided to pursue art full-time in 1983. Since then, she has become one of few Alberta artists who are able to make a living in the often-unforgiving art industry.
She’s dabbled in various mediums, including oils, egg tempera and acrylics, but found her niche in transparent watercolour. The artist prefers using supersaturated colours to create rich hues, representative of her varying subjects.
Ms. Thierfelder has also tried her hand at different styles of painting in her career, but has found the greatest success in well-defined realism, creating lifelike portraits out of paint and canvas.
She’s painted all kinds of fruit and vegetables, but has found the greatest success in her floral work. Perhaps it’s because so many of her floral pieces are depictions of flowers from her acreage garden.
Ms. Thierfelder’s first exhibition was at the Multicultural Heritage Centre in Stony Plain. Since then, she has gained much acclaim locally, nationally and internationally. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, including Art Focus, American Artist and International Artist.
She’s also been the recipient of many awards in her career, including Best in Show at the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour’s Open Water International Juried Exhibition in 2001, as well as the YWCA Woman of Distinction in 1997.
Her work can be seen in collections around the world, including the Foundation for the Arts, Canada Council Art Bank and Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. Ms. Thierfelder was honoured to have one of her paintings selected for the Honourable Queen Elizabeth II’s Collection of Drawings and Watercolors. Her work is currently on display at the Royal Library in Windsor, UK.
Throughout her successful career, Ms. Thierfelder has been generous with her time and talent to local groups. She has donated works to the Alberta Summer Games and donated an original painting every year of the Multicultural Heritage Centre’s Annual Art Auction. “It is difficult to articulate how significant it is to an organization to have someone of her caliber support their cause,” states Judy Unterschultz, the director of the Multicultural Heritage Centre.
It is with great honour that the City of Spruce Grove inducts Ms. Thierfelder into the Awards of Excellence.
- Dr. Locksley McGann
Dr. Locksley McGann
Ironically, Dr. Locksley McGann was born in Jamaica, where melting was far more common than freezing. Dr. McGann is recognized as a world leader and innovator in cryobiology, which is the study of the effects of very low temperatures on living organisms. He has studied how living cells respond to low temperatures, how cells and tissues can be preserved at low temperatures and the uses of these techniques. It’s for his scientific innovation and contributions in transplantation medicine particularly that Dr. McGann is being recognized.
In 1964, Dr. McGann moved to Canada with his family. After two years of post-doctoral work with a internationally-acclaimed cryobiology research group in the U.K., Dr. McGann came to the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Alberta. He and his wife, Margo, and family settled in Spruce Grove in 1975. Dr. McGann has held appointments at the UofA in the Departments of Surgery, Medicine and Food Sciences, at the University of Calgary in the Department of Surgery, at the Canadian Blood Services in the Research and Development Department and at the Jiamusi Medical College in China in Pathophysiology.
Dr. McGann’s Masters and Doctorate students have gone on to make their own valued contributions in science and medicine.
In addition to the application of his work in the banking of cells and tissues for transplant, Dr. McGann has done research in methods used to preserve skin for the treatment of severe burn victims, and articular cartilage for patients requiring joint resurfacing or replacement. His pioneering work has led to innovations in cryopreservation of stem cells. Dr. McGann is the founding and current Laboratory Director of the Canadian Blood Services Hematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory, which processes and stores bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells for transplant. Dr. McGann has also worked in conservation of biodiversity in threatened and endangered animals.
Dr. McGann, we may not understand what you do, but we recognize its importance to preserving life. Spruce Grove honours your achievements.
- Grant Fuhr
He is the kid from Spruce Grove who went on to become one of the best goaltenders in NHL history and a five-time Stanley Cup champion. He is Grant Fuhr, and the City of Spruce Grove is proud to honour him with an Award of Excellence in Athletics.
At age 15 Mr. Fuhr joined the WHL's Victoria Cougars, where he was twice a first-team all-star. In 1981, Mr. Fuhr became a first-round Edmonton Oilers draft choice, recording a 23-game unbeaten streak that first season. He was an amazing playoff player, with a 92-50 record in 150 games. He led the Oilers to Stanley Cup titles in 1984, ‘85, ‘87 and ‘88.
Mr. Fuhr says, "After watching the Oilers as a kid, I was extremely fortunate to join a very special group of hockey players on a team that had great success." Former team mates have said that they would not have been as successful without “Fuhrsy.”
Mr. Fuhr went on to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and, finally, the Calgary Flames. He retired in 2001.
This amazing goaltender won many awards and holds numerous records. His 14 points in 1983-1984 still stands as the single-season record for most points by a goaltender. He is proud to be the first black NHL superstar.
In 1987, Mr. Fuhr was named the NHL’s best goaltender and was runner-up to team mate Wayne Gretzky as most valuable player. In 1994, he was co-winner of the award for fewest goals allowed. With the Buffalo Sabres, he played an astonishing 79 games, 76 consecutively, records that still stand. In 1999, Mr. Fuhr joined a very elite club of goaltenders with 400 career wins.
In 2003 Mr. Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2003, the Oilers retired his Number 31, only the fourth Oiler to receive that honour. In 2004, the City of Spruce Grove renamed the arena where Grant got his start the Grant Fuhr Arena.
Spruce Grove is honoured that Mr. Fuhr has represented the community so well to the world.
- Henry Singer
- Community Service
It’s hard to imagine that any one person could accomplish as much in a lifetime as did the late Henry Singer. Born in 1907, Mr. Singer watched Spruce Grove grow from a tiny hamlet to the city it is today. Actually, there was little time for watching for a doer like Henry.
Henry Singer was married for over 60 years to Florence, and together they raised six children. Mr. Singer was a school bus driver for over 40 years. At age 74, he was made an honorary staff member at Woodhaven Junior High School for his dedication to the children he served.
Henry was an outstanding farmer and in 1971 the Singer family received the Alberta Farm Family Award. In addition to running the farm and volunteering as director at the Stony Plain Seed Cleaning Plant for 32 years, Henry Singer was a charter and lifetime member of the chamber of commerce, Lions Club and Spruce Grove Curling Club. He helped to build the Peace Lutheran Church, Spruce Grove’s first curling rink and the Spruce Grove Agrena. He was a director of the Serplex Society, Spruce Grove Agricultural Society, the Rural Electrification Association and a member of the Spruce Grove Recreation Board.
That was Henry Singer – school bus driver, fastball coach, active volunteer, curler, and, when he found time, a farmer.
In 1980, Spruce Grove named a ball diamond after Henry Singer. He coached fastball from 1943-1976, leading his teams to five provincial intermediate C championships over four decades. In 1982, he was among the first six inductees into the Alberta Amateur Softball Hall of Fame.
The Henry Singer Award given each year to a top athlete at Spruce Grove Composite High School is another way he inspires our young people today.
- Jennifer Heil
Jennifer Heil was Canadian freestyle mogul skiing champion when most teens are still in high school. At age 16 in 2000 this remarkable young woman captured the national title in both single and dual moguls. At 17, she became one of the youngest skiers to win a World Cup silver medal. She placed 4th in the 2002 Winter Olympics as the youngest member of the Canadian team in Salt Lake City, missing bronze by 1/100th of a point.
Jennifer loves just about any sport, swimming competitively with the Barracuda Swim Club. She began skiing at age two and thanks her “insanely enthusiastic” parents for that. While training for the 2002 Olympics, Jennifer wrote, “To me, there is nothing greater than passion….Passion is what sends me speeding through the mogul field and flying off jumps.”
Taking a year off in 2004 to attend university and mend injuries, Jennifer then returned to competition and attained 17 podiums, making her total 30 – all by age 22. In 2004, Jennifer became Canada's first woman Moguls World Cup Champion, repeating in 2005. She also won her fifth national dual moguls title and gold at the World Championships.
“Each day,” Jenn says, “I become challenged to become a better skier and a better person as I learn from those around me that have already succeeded….I hope that I will be able to plant the Olympic bug and the desire to strive for excellence the way it has been planted inside of me.”
Jenn is a great ambassador for Spruce Grove, choosing to finish high school here rather than the National Sports School in Calgary, because she is proud to be from Spruce Grove.
- Judy Kesanko
When Judy Kesanko retired as a teacher after 22 years, little did she know how busy she would be. In 1997, she took a three-month contract with the Multicultural Heritage Centre to ensure that its field-trip program met the school curriculum. Her position became permanent and she became part of an award-winning team providing innovative agricultural, farm-safety and environmental school programs to hundreds of students.
Judy Kesanko's development and use of educational games and programs has earned her the Award of Excellence in the Education category.
Some of her efforts have been directed at reducing farm injuries and deaths through utilizing safe practices while working, watching or playing.
Judy and colleague Jeanette Smith designed their programs knowing that children learn better when having fun. Knowing that five children are killed on Alberta farms in Alberta each year, they developed several games to teach farm safety in a fun, interactive way.
City Slickers is one unique program for city children co-ordinated by Mrs. Kesanko. Since 1999, 1,000 Edmonton students each year have taken part, spending a day in the country. They learn about food production, watch a harvest and tour a local working farm.
Mrs. Kesanko's work has brought regional, provincial and national recognition. In 2002, the duo won the Injury Control Champion Award. In 2003, they were awarded the Canadian Agri-Food Award for Excellence at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. The following year, in 2004, they won the Parkland County Award of Excellence in Agriculture.
In 2003, Shirley McClellan, Deputy Premier and Agriculture Minister, congratulated Mrs. Kesanko with these remarks, "In an era when many families often live their lives far removed from their roots and where children don't really know where their food comes from, your wonderful City Slicker program brings so much knowledge and enjoyment to thousands of urban children each year."
Judy Kesanko's contribution to education has not only benefited Spruce Grove students but students throughout Alberta. Spruce Grove recognizes these achievements as well with this Award of Excellence.
- Ken Howery
- Community Service
Spruce Grove has come a long way since 1891 when it was a hamlet with a general store, livery stables, blacksmith shop, hotel and Catholic church. By 1955, Spruce Grove was a village, a town in 1971, and a city in 1986. Perhaps no one has been more instrumental in making Spruce Grove the prosperous city it is today than Ken Howery, who served as a town councillor and, from 1971-77, as its fifth mayor.
According to one former colleague, Ken Howery was the one person most responsible for having the vision necessary to bring our city out of a slumbering existence to become a town with a positive future.
Spruce Grove’s growth under Ken Howery’s leadership was astounding. The town became a member in the Parkland Water Board and built the first water line from Edmonton to Spruce Grove. The Serplex community school was developed, bringing Spruce Grove the province’s A.V. Pettigrew Recreation Award.
Plans were made for major roadways and to ensure that there was land and utilities for expansion. Development agreements were completed for Brookwood, Woodhaven and Millgrove subdivisions completed, and school sites were secured. The town negotiated a very creative agreement for the development of land that would become Grove Meadows. It provided Spruce Grove with 25 per cent profit sharing as well as title to 60 acres of parkland, far more than the normal land requirements.
While the value of these agreements would not be well known to the average resident, Spruce Grove would not be nearly as prosperous if then-mayor Howery had not been so vigilant in his preparation of these early agreements.
Mr. Howery played a most significant role in leading the then Town of Spruce Grove during its more explosive period of growth and change. He was the thoughtful guardian of balanced, controlled growth. He worked diligently to ensure that the decision makers fully understood and managed the planning and development process. Ken had both the skills of leadership and the technical and managerial skills to oversee administrative processes.