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(Posted 10:30 a.m., June 8)
Eight new inductees added to Navan Builders Wall

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Navan Community Builders Wall inductee Bob Burns is presented with the name placque for himself and his late wife Helen by family friend and fellow wall member Linda Dunn. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Navan Community Builders Wall has eight new names on it, including one of the village's oldest families, its most famous doctor, and a couple who devoted over 40 years of their lives to church and community.

Dr. David Irwin served as the local doctor from 1918 until his tragic death in 1944, when his car was struck by a train at a level crossing in Blackburn Hamlet.

It is often said that Dr. Irwin brought two generations of Cumberland Township residents into the world during the 20s, 30s and early 40s.

After earning his medical degree from Queen's Uniersity, Dr. Irwin opened his medical practice in Cumberland Village in 1913. He moved to Navan five years later, where he served the entire township of Cumberland and beyond.

Dr. Irwin and his wife Stella Farmer Irwin had six children. The lone surviving sibling is Lynn Irwin who currently lives in Vanvcouver.

Two of Dr. Irwin's descendants were on hand at Saturday's ceremony to accept the name placque on the family's behalf. David Farmer is Dr. Irwin's great grand-nephew and Anne Kenndey is a great grand-neice.

As far back as Dr. Irwin goes in the history of Navan, the Rathwell family goes back even farther. Samuel Rathwell was one of the original settlers in the area, arriving from his native Ireland in 1836. He and his wife, Mary Ann Rathwell, raised 11 children.

The family farm was handed down through the generations. Samuel W. Rathwell was Samuel's great-grandson. A celebrated dairy farmer, Samuel W. was the founding president of the Cumberland Township Agricultural Society in 1946, and his son Donald Rathwell was the Navan Fair president from 1965-1966.

Other members of Rathwell family have been actively involved in the Navan community for years.

Three generations of the Rathwell Family accept their Navan Community Builders Wall placque during a ceremony on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Shaw family can also trace its roots back to the village's early beginnings. George William Shaw immigrated to Canada in 1841 with his wife Mary Ann and their two sons William and Robert. After establishing a farm in Navan they had two more children John George and Jane Elizabeth.

The Shaw farm was located along the south side of Colonial Road from present day Trim Road to Frank Kenny Road and included the area where the Navan Memorial Arena, Navan Fairgrounds, softball diamond and Navan Curling Club now stand. The land was donated to the community by George William Shaw's grandson, who was also named George William Shaw, and was among Saturday's inductees.

Navan has a long history of couples who have left their mark on the community through the years. Among them are Bob and Helen Burns, and George and Pat Savage.

The late Helen Burns was one of Navan's most industrious residents until her passing in 2012. She was an active member of the Navan Fair board, the Navan Women's Institute, the Navan-Vars United Church and many other community organizations.

Bob Burns, who accepted the couple's wall placque, was an elder with the Navan-Vars United Church for over 40 years, and is a past president of the Navan Fair. He and Helen served in various capacities on the Navan Fair board and numerous committees for more than four decades.

George and Pat Savage also served on the Navan Fair board. George was president of the Navan Fair from 2003-2004 and Pat served as treasuer for nine years.

The couple is also responsible for one of the Fair's most popular attractions. They organized the first demolition derby in 1998 and continued to do so for several years afterwards.

Although he stepped down from the board when the couple moved to Beamsville, Ontario several years ago to retire, George still returns to the community every summer to emcee the annual Navan Fair Parade.

During an emotional acceptance speech, the couple spoke lovingly of the village they will always call "home", and described their inclusion on the Builders Wall as a tremendous hounour.

The Cumberland Township Agricutural Society (CTAS) and the Navan Fair were a common theme during Saturday's induction ceremony. In fact, the CTAS was one of three groups given a plaque on the Builders Wall, along with the Navan Women's Institute and the Navan Lions Club.

Both of the former groups have been involved in every major community fundraising activity since their inception, including the fundraising campaigns for the Navan Memorial Arena and its two predecessors.

The Community Builders Wall is located in the Town Clock Plaza in front of the Navan Fire Station on Colonial Road.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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