Well… it had to happen in the end!
Ontario Parks’ longest-serving employee has retired after 62 years at Killbear Provincial Park.
Eddie began working at the park in 1959 and helped build the roads and campgrounds before the park officially opened in 1960.
After a career training countless employees and keeping the maintenance department running, Eddie decided to hang up his chainsaw for good last summer.
Congratulations to Eddie and we wish him a long and healthy retirement!
When most people think about a career, they might think about working 30, 35, or even 40 years before enjoying a well-deserved retirement.
Eddie Ramsay does not share that point of view.
Happy anniversary, Eddie!
This year marks Eddie’s 62nd year in the Killbear Provincial Park maintenance department.
In a fitting tribute to his extraordinary career at Killbear, the park’s main road was renamed “Eddie Ramsay Parkway.”
For him, working at Killbear is its own reward and he looks forward to coming to work every day! When asked what he likes most about his job, Eddie says, “It’s the people I know.” He loves meeting park visitors and they love meeting him!
During most days in the summer, a park visitor will approach a staff member and ask if Eddie is still working. Usually he will try to stop by for a quick visit and reminisce while he makes his rounds.
Eddie has a number of scrapbooks showing the history of the park and loves to point out changes to the park.
Eddie’s roots run deep in Killbear. This photo shows his family in their sugar shack on the Killbear Peninsula, circa 1918.
Of course, he has fond memories of working for 30 to 45 years with Gordie Badger, Lynn Murphy and Richard Charbonneau, three other Killbear maintenance workers who have retired over the past 18 years.
The next generation
Eddie loves working with students. Over the past 62 seasons, Eddie has worked with and supervised thousands of rangers and summer students.
Eddie in his old Lands and Forest uniform during Killbear’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2010.
The fact that Eddie never seems to get tired (and can still outperform many 17-year-olds!) has earned him the respect of everyone on staff.
He is responsible for ensuring safe work habits on his teams and, by dint of his own example, has helped instill a strong work ethic, attention to detail and customer service in many new workers.
When Eddie says “good job” over the radio to a new worker, you know that person will be a great employee no matter where they go.
Whenever the previous staff comes back to visit the park, they always head to maintenance to talk to Eddie. You’ll usually be able to remember something funny or extraordinary (or crazy) they did five, 10, or 30 years ago.
Killbear’s number one ambassador
Eddie Ramsay has seen a lot of changes in his 62 years on Killbear. His first salary was from the Department of Lands and Forests.
Since then, it has been part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and now the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
When Eddie started working at Killbear in 1959, the park wasn’t even open!
He was part of the team that helped build the campgrounds and roads in the park.
As he tells it, Georgian Campground was a group effort. The maintenance crew would dump a load of sand on a proposed site, then hand a shovel and rake to the waiting camper and tell him to level it.
Eddie holding GM1 (a threatened eastern fox snake named after Eddie’s radio call sign)
While not exactly a snake lover, Eddie has come to grudgingly respect Killbear’s fox and rattlesnakes.
In the 1960s, one of his jobs was killing rattlesnakes in the park, but now he helps protect them! The 2016 television documentary. Surprising balance: Georgian Bay includes a segment about Eddie and his changing attitude toward snakes in the park.
Credit where credit is due
Throughout Eddie’s long career, he has attracted well-deserved attention for his incredible work ethic. He received a PRIDE award in 1999 and in 2010 received the MNRF “Most Valuable Resource Award.”
Eddie is very proud to work at Killbear all these years and is a great ambassador for the park. He is always willing to help other staff members or the public.
Ontario Parks has been lucky to have such a dedicated worker all these seasons.