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I grew up in Sudbury in the 70’s and 80’s, the son of Ken, a travelling salesman and Jocelyne, a developmental worker. My grandparents on my Dad’s side were British immigrants – Jim, a nickel miner and professional percussionist, and Kay, a dedicated Scout leader and foster Mom. My grandparents on my Mom’s side were “pure laine” French-Canadians – Léo, a nickel miner and lumberjack, and Jeanne, a school teacher. My godparents were Rhéal (after whom I am named), head of the Nippissing school board and Armande, a school teacher.
I did JK though grade 8 at École Félix Ricard and went on to graduate near the top of my class at Collège Notre Dame.
I earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1995 and a Diploma in Industrial Design from Humber College in 1998.
I have also earned continuing education credits in Economics, Financial Analysis and Accounting from the University of Toronto.
I’ve spent the last 16 years as an Automotive Engineer for a Fortune 200 company. Early on, I was chosen to be part of a small team that grew a new branch of the company from a meagre $5 million dollar division into something that had nearly tripled in size by the time it was amalgamated with three other divisions to form a $200 million dollar arm of the company.
In my various roles in Management, Design, Sales and Quality, I’ve had the opportunity to work with nearly all the major auto makers and have travelled extensively, most notably doing extended residencies in Seoul, South Korea, and Nagoya, Japan.
I consider myself an inventor by nature. I have approximately a dozen patents to my name, either granted or pending.
Hard work and volunteerism were a way of life as I grew up. Both my parents were active members of our church and served several terms on the executives of a number of service clubs.
My decidedly middle-class upbringing meant that if I wanted something, I had to earn it. Through high school, I delivered newspapers, did my time at a fast food restaurant and ended up as an assistant baker in a grocery store all while maintaining excellent grades.
My program at university was co-op, which meant that every four months, I had to pick up stakes and move either for school or work. My jobs there brought me to all corners of Ontario, from London to Gananoque, Port Elgin and Toronto.
Despite, this hectic rhythm, I always found time to get involved. For instance, at Waterloo, I was editor of the engineering newspaper, the Iron Warrior, as well as holding various directorships in the Engineering Society.
Later, when we lived in Toronto, we volunteered as order-pickers and screeners for the Daily Bread food bank, which was a sobering look into the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.
My wife Kim and I moved to Dundas twelve years ago so she could pursue her research and teaching career at McMaster Unversity as a member of the Faculty of Engineering following her doctoral work at the University of Toronto.
We fell in love with Dundas at first sight and bought the first house we were shown. We are very proud Dundasians and are thrilled that our young son Theo will grow up in this community.
Never one to gather any moss, I almost immediately volunteered with Dundas Community Services and was just recently awarded a 10-year service pin by the Province for that work.
Our early years here were filled with work and travel. Racing both dragon boats and bicycles at a high level, our adventures brought us to places as diverse as Vancouver, Montreal, San Francisco and even Hong Kong.
About five years ago, I led a grass-roots effort to build a sustainable recreational trail system at Christie Lake Conservation Area. I promptly joined the executive of the Hamilton Cycling Club and with the help of over 3,000 hours of volunteer work (not all my own!) and a Trillium Fund capital grant, we have a thriving and growing network that draws users from all across the City and the region.
Now, as Vice-President of the Hamilton Cycling Club, I still oversee our advocacy work as well our main fundraising event, the Good Friday Road Race, one of the oldest and biggest Provincial bicycle races in Canada. When I first became director for the event, we were barely breaking even and our relationships with the community and our sanctioning body were weakening.
I decided it was time for a radical change. I moved the race from Flamborough to the Ancaster Fairgrounds, completely reworking the event and its finances. The Ontario Cycling Association now considers it one of its flagship events. Plus, we’re now solidly in the black!
One of my many other volunteer “jobs” is as a Provincial Commissaire for the Ontario Cycling Association. Simply put, in the world of bike races, I’m a referee. Earning this qualification involves a lot of in-class training as well as practical “internships”, where we shadow senior referees.
Aside from learning all the rules involved, we also receive extra-curricular training in conflict resolution, mediation and effective communication. It’s been a great learning experience and it has given me a whole new insight into the world of competitive cycling (as opposed to my experience on the other side of the fence as a busy racer).
My work with the Club also led me to join the Hamilton Cycling Committee, an advisory committee to the City of Hamilton Public Works Department, where I represent Ward 13. It was here that I learned about the inner workings of the City and all the fantastic work done by Council and Staff. Slowly, almost accidentally, I was compelled to run for office.
So, here we are, at the present.
Now that I’ve gone on at such great length about myself, I want to hear about YOU!