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Memorial remembers 'Mayor of Thornhill'

Cyril Bennett-Nabess of Kitselas, Thornhill regional district board director Ted Ramsey, Hazelton mayor Alice Maitland, Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, and regional district chair and Terrace city councillor Bruce Bidgood unveil the memorial bench dedicated to the late Les Watmough, affectionately known as the Mayor of Thornhill. - MARGARET SPEIRS
Cyril Bennett-Nabess of Kitselas, Thornhill regional district board director Ted Ramsey, Hazelton mayor Alice Maitland, Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, and regional district chair and Terrace city councillor Bruce Bidgood unveil the memorial bench dedicated to the late Les Watmough, affectionately known as the Mayor of Thornhill.
— image credit: MARGARET SPEIRS

“Mayor of Thornhill” Les Watmough was honoured with a bench dedicated to him on Thornhill Landing during Riverboat Days festivities Aug. 5.

About 60 people, including several Terrace city council members and regional district members, came out for the unveiling.

Les’s widow Diane and two of his four children, Marilynn and Albert, helped put the memorial plaque on the bench.

Watmough, who died Oct. 27, 2013 at age 83, served the people of Thornhill as their director on the board of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine from 1976 until 2008, with the exception of the years 1982-1984 and 1994-1996.

He was instrumental in getting services into Thornhill: water systems, sewer systems, lights, sidewalks, firefighting, parks and cost sharing so the residents could have access to city-owned facilities. Watmough became known as the unofficial ‘Mayor of Thornhill.’

Cyril Bennett-Nabess, representing his grandfather Wilfred Bennett from Kitselas, welcomed everyone to Tsimshian land and presented the gift of a bent box made by youths at the band’s culture camps to the Watmough family.

Alice Maitland, mayor of Hazelton, Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, regional district chair and Terrace city councillor Bruce Bidgood and regional district director for Thornhill Ted Ramsey spoke about Les and his accomplishments. Watmough family friend Debbie Toovey sang three songs she’d written about Terrace and Canada.

Bidgood, Monaghan, Maitland, Ramsey and Bennett-Nabess then lifted a white sheet off the bench and Ramsey helped Watmough’s family put a memorial plaque on the bench.

Thornhill Landing was named after Tom and Eliza Thornhill, who operated a landing point for supplying wood fuel to sternwheelers plying the Skeena River during the days of the riverboats on the river.

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