Marchildon retires after nearly 50 years with Town

May 5, 2016   ·   0 Comments

A whole lot of experience went out the door last Friday when Jean-Paul (JP) Marchildon left the Town of Orangeville’s Operations Centre.

It was June 19, 1967 when 17-year-old JP got a part-time job with the Town’s Public Works Department. The Town’s population was about 4,200 and the Roads Superintendent was Reg Kingshot (later replaced by John Vandendam – and then the position evolved into Director of Public Works which was a role filled by Jack Tupling and now by Doug Jones).

Originally from the Penetanguishene area, JP’s family moved to Orangeville in 1963 and he graduated from Orangeville District Secondary School in 1970. His father Fern was a police officer in Orangeville and his mother Sally worked at IGA and later Cloverfarm grocery stores.

JP worked part-time with the Town’s Public Works Department. He cut grass, washed vehicles, and worked on the garbage truck. As part of his duties he also was the arena operator at the old arena (at Faulkner Street and Elizabeth Street) and the pool operator at the old Lions pool at Idyllwild Park until June of 1970 when he moved to full-time employment with waterworks.

In 1973 his role was expanded to include roads and the cemetery and in 1977 he was promoted to foreman. The position was changed to Operations Manager in the late 1990s.

As Operations Manager, JP oversees the operations, water works and wastewater outside staff who undertake maintenance and repair services for the road system, sidewalks, storm sewer system, water supply and distribution system, sanitary sewage collection, and cemetery; he assists in the preparation of operating and capital budgets for the operations, water works and wastewater groups within Public Works; ensures staff comply with legislation; and co-ordinates outside contractors.

He recalls that in his early days on the job they would sand the streets by throwing sand from the back of a truck, and they would sweep the streets by hand, and remove trees on a Saturday so they could just let them fall on the roadway to cut them up. Trees were dropped during the winter months to minimize property damage – there were no bucket trucks at that time. The Town only had one snowplow back then, compared to the current four plus four contracted plows.

“Standards and expectations have changed,” JP says, noting that the roads were still snow-packed after plowing for about the first 10 years of his employment. “People’s needs got much greater and we started sanding and salting to get down to the bare pavement. It’s almost like some want you to chase every snowflake now. But then others feel it’s too much. So you hear both sides of the coin.” The equipment has also changed over the years.

But the camaraderie with co-workers remains. He says he will miss the work and “the guys”. He says he feels like the last man standing, with none of his colleagues from 1967 still working with the Town.

He says some people ask why he stayed with the Town so long. His answer is short and simple. “Working with hard-working and knowledgeable support staff has made it an enjoyable and rewarding work experience for me and one that I hate to give up.”

On the top of his retirement list is catching up with projects around his home. “There’s a big honey-do list at home,” he chuckles. So that comes first. Then he expects he will find part-time work to keep busy.

Plus he’s got a couple of other passions: grandchildren and horses. Back in the early 1980s he started training race horses which would compete at Georgian Downs, Hanover, Elora or Flamborough tracks. “When you train horses you are totally focused and I find it relaxing.” He rents a stall in Mono and enjoys this pastime immensely. So JP and wife Mary (an educational assistant at Westside Secondary School) will be spending some time at the race track.

They will also be spending more time with son Rob, a math program leader at Westside Secondary School, and daughter Danielle Marchildon, a local naturopathic doctor at Collective Health Clinic, and their six grandchildren.

Asked by the Citizen whether a going-away ceremony was planned, Sheila Duncan, the Town’s director of communications, emailed: “JP didn’t want a ceremony of any sort.”

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