Mary Buie receives Billings Township Citizen of the Year Award

Lady Mary and Lord Ian of Billings! Mary Buie, left, and Ian Anderson, Billings Township mayor, dressed in regal fashion for the presentation of the 2019 Billings Citizen of the Year award to Ms. Buie, this past Sunday at the Park Centre in Kagawong. PHOTO BY MIKE COOMES

KAGAWONG – A very deserving Mary Buie has been recognized and presented with the Billings Citizen of the Year Award for 2019.

“On behalf of Billings council and indeed, all residents of Billings Township, I congratulate you as our 2019 Citizen of the Year,” stated Billings Mayor Ian Anderson at the award ceremony held in a packed Park Centre this past Sunday. “As a wife, mother, nurse, lay minister, Girl Guide and 4H leader, you are a true role model and an inspiration.”

“Since your arrival in 1969 you have been helping people in some fashion,” said Mayor Anderson. “As perhaps one of our first trained midwives I believe you have been present and assisted in over 300 births here on Manitoulin.”

Mayor Anderson noted, “your community spirit is infectious. You just cannot ignore Mary’s smile, enthusiasm and passion for life. Never change, Mary. We all are better because of you!”

In the official award induction ceremony Mayor Anderson said, “by the powers conveyed to me by the province of Ontario, as Mayor of Billings, I officially declare you as Billings Township’s Citizen of the year.”

Ms. Buie was also presented with flowers on behalf of the township.

“I want to say congratulations to my mom on receiving the Citizen of the Year award this year for Kagawong,” wrote Mrs. Buie’s daughter Jen in a letter read at the ceremony. “Mom has always given back to the community and embodies what I feel a true neighbour is. She may not have been born in Kagawong or even grown up here, but she sure became part of the fabric of our town very quickly. When new people move into Kagawong, she’s the first to show up with tea biscuits and jelly to welcome them and let them know about what our town offers. She loves being the ‘town nurse’ and enjoys helping others. She may have been out singing with her choir group or had just gotten back from visiting her family and grandchildren the night before, but she makes time to do it as she feels it’s important. This is the type of woman she is.”

“She always thinks of others before herself and always gives back,” wrote Jen Buie. “She is the fabric that holds our family together and I truly feel she is also the fabric that holds Kagawong together. She truly cares about everyone in the community and I am very proud to be her daughter! Congratulations, Mom! I love you very much!”

A very proud, but humorous Mike Coomes, (Mary’s brother) said, “Mary! My older sister. I’ve known her longer than anyone else here. She would bite me, and she used to chase me around the living room table. She had the warm bedroom. I had the frozen box room bedroom! I once pushed her Standard 10 car through London with my Ford 105E.”

“She left home in 1963 to train to be a nurse,” continued Mr. Coomes. “Then I got her warm bedroom. She left to go nursing in Canada in 1969. After that we had little contact over 30 years, as we had our own lives to lead.”

“Then in 2009 I was Skyping Jen (Buie) from Shanghai and Mary needed to get their garage finished,” said Mr. Coomes. “Within three weeks I was here and I finished it! From there, I bought the house on 142 Lebar Road (in Kagawong) and the rest is history!”

“Neither of us ever thought we would end up living within five minutes of each other but here we are,” continued Mr. Coomes. “And now I dread the call ‘Mike, I need your help!’” he quipped.

“But I love her to bits and it is an honour to be her younger brother,” stated Mr. Coomes, “and to be known as Mary Buie’s brother.”

Ms. Buie took part in the cutting of the cake for everyone to enjoy. 

To fit the occasion Mayor Anderson had dressed up as a Lord, and Mary was dressed as Lady Mary. “My large Lord Anderson. I am your humble servant of the Kingdom of Kagawong and I would like to address your subjects.”

“To my fellow country folk in the kingdom of Kagawong, young and old, I would like to express my most humble thanks for the honour thus bestowed upon me,” said Ms. Buie. “It is a great privilege to live here amongst such generous, welcoming, kind people. I am happy that I can help and support them in any way I can.” 

“John (her husband) and I chose to live in Kagawong 45 years ago,” continued Ms. Buie. “It is a community that cares for each other and supports them in good times and bad.”

“You are our family of Kagawong and we are very proud that we live here,” stated Ms. Buie. “We boast about Kagawong and the Township of Billings wherever we go. We live on this wondrous Manitoulin Island. Right now we can sit out, listen to the birds, look over the sparkling waters of our bay, bask in the sunshine, enjoy the fruits of our labours, food on our tables. We can enjoy our summer days and cool off in crystal clear waters. We live in a peaceful kingdom. We are blessed abundantly.”

“But, my Lord Anderson, I also serve another Lord,” said Ms. Buie. “My God is your God-creator of all the beauty around us human folk, the birds, the beasts, the bounty and the beauty of the land. We are all asked to love our neighbour as ourselves. Jesus is my Lord and I try to listen to his voice—the Holy Spirit—and what he asks of me.”

“I love serving all of you here in this beautiful kingdom,” said Ms. Buie. “My life is perfect with a wonderful husband, family and friends—you are all my family and community. I am encouraged and always will be. We are always hearing doom and gloom all around us. I will try and spread the spirit of the Lord wherever I am, wherever I go. I will try and help others feel good about themselves, give them courage, hope, strength, love and caring. If we don’t know what else to do we can always pray for them. More things are wrought by prayer than we can ever imagine. We don’t need to know if they work, but I know they do, they helped me through.”

“So once again I offer my most grateful thanks for this great honour bestowed upon me,” added Ms. Buie.