By Bobbi Ann Brady
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Losing himself in the service of others is precisely what the late Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Gord Miller did. Recently, during tributes to former members, I stood in the Ontario Legislature and relayed the contributions Gord made to the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk.
Despite party lines, despite what you see in Question Period, most politicians truly respect the job each does for their constituents. My colleagues Ernie Hardeman, from the PC caucus, and NDP member John Vanthof also paid tribute to Gord.
MPP Vanthof was pleasantly surprised to learn that in the parliamentary record, Gord’s occupation was ‘farmer.’ “…if my occupation is listed someday as a farmer, it will be the proudest day of my life,” Vanthof said.
In his remarks, MPP Hardeman, who I would also describe as a fantastic riding MPP, touched on the notion the people of Haldimand-Norfolk and rural ways always came first.
“During his 15 years, he served as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Agriculture and Food, but he never lost touch with his local people who elected him. He was a dedicated champion for farmers, Haldimand–Norfolk, and all rural Ontarians.”
Gord started in politics at the municipal level. Still, the people of Haldimand-Norfolk had never warmed to the idea of regional government, which was the catalyst for him to run provincially in 1975. He won and would go on to serve until 1990. While the scrapping of regional government did not happen during his term, my predecessor Toby Barrett picked up the torch, and in 2001, Haldimand and Norfolk counties were reinstated.
I spoke to my good friend Dennis Craddock of Jarvis, who has been the Liberal Association’s Chief Financial Officer since Gord’s success in ’75. Dennis described Gord as “an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.”
Despite humble beginnings, Gord shared what he could give and began volunteering at a young age. In the 1940s Gord would flood the ice for local hockey players, he later became an elder at the Jarvis Presbyterian Church, and was a 75-year member of the Lodge. This merely touches on the community service Gord undertook.
Doug Miller, one of Gord’s sons, often wondered how the man he looked up to found time to do all he wished while still being a husband, father, and eventually grandfather and great-grandfather. Gord always told his four boys—Doug, Barry, Glen, and Alan—that his commitment to the community never seemed like work; instead, it was fun.
When I posted on social media that I would pay tribute to Gord, comments flooded in. Many described Gord as a true gentleman who represented his community with the utmost respect. One writer said he vividly remembers being packed into the Jarvis Community Centre for the victory night with Thank God I’m a Country Boy playing. Another wrote that as a kid, his minor ball team won a provincial championship, for which Gord presented each player with a congratulatory letter.
As a lover of trees and the forest, Gord, well into his nineties, could be found piling wood on the property. He said it kept him young.
Gord passed away at his Jarvis-area farm on February 23, 2021, where he first came into this world. He was three days shy of his 97th birthday.
Haldimand–Norfolk is a better place because of Gord Miller’s work and the ideas he laid before us. In the community of Jarvis and beyond, his absence is felt as strongly as locals long felt his presence.
Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk