In Clinton, few are as well known or as active in the community as former mayor Robin Fennell.
At 76 years old, Fennell says he’s a bit “long in the tooth”. He’s lived in Clinton since 1978 when he came to work for the then-Ministry of Forests, getting involved in everything from silviculture to timber inspections and even some firefighting, back in the day.
“I promised my wife when we got here in 1978 that I’d stay five years, and last I looked we’re at four and three-quarters years, so not quite at the five years yet,” Fennell jokes, adding that they wanted to settle down to allow their two sons to stay at one school.
Over the years, Fennell became involved in the community in various ways, from the local curling club to eventually jumping into politics, serving two terms as a councillor and one as mayor. He threw his name in the hat, he says, because of a desire to make the community a bit better.
On council, Fennell says he tried to attract more businesses to Clinton, but isn’t quite sure they succeeded. As mayor, they did bring the Chasm West Fraser Sawmill into the Village for tax purposes, which helped substantially, although it’s since shut down.
“Being a councillor you probably have more power than the mayor,” Fennell says. “A mayor listens and I just wanted to be the fellow to listen to what the people had to say and see if I could find a middle ground. It’s to be a moderator more than anything, I’d say.”
He primarily does volunteer work now that he has left public office. His activities include volunteering with the Clinton and District Outdoor Sportsmen Association, looking after recreation sites, and clearing trails.
In keeping with his forestry roots, Fennell is a director with the Clinton and District Community Forest. It’s a lot of work, but good for the community, he says, with 60 per cent of profits going to the village and 40 per cent to local non-profits.
In his spare time, Fennell likes drinking coffee, walking, quadding, kayaking, curling, and other outdoor activities. He says that he has stayed in Clinton throughout the years because of the easy access to the outdoors and the people he’s met. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s small and he can afford it.
“They tell me around town here that I BS a lot, so people don’t believe me in a lot of things, and I like it that way,” Fennell observes. “Once you retire, there better be something for you to do. It can be a hobby of some sort or just getting involved in whatever: the community, seniors’ groups.
“Just do things. You have to keep active. Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t get you anywhere.”