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Cambridge's First Mayor, Claudette Millar, Dies Of Cancer

When The Chips Were Down You Could Always Count On Claudette

The woman who did so much for Cambridge has passed away. Claudette Millar, whose political career spanned nearly 5 decades passed away quietly at a Guelph hospice of stomach cancer at the age of 81.

Current mayor Doug Craig said he was lucky to be able to say goodbye in person. Millar had called Craig a few weeks ago to tell him that she was dying and that she wanted him to pay a visit. (This, in itself, is classic Claudette. "Hey, I'm thinking of dying...could you drop by for a visit.")

Craig spent the better part of an hour visiting with Millar.

She was not a sympathy-seeker and the way she exited this world is an indication of her strength of character. She faced death like every other challenge in life--straight on!

Ms. Millar was the last mayor of the former town of Preston when she was elected in 1969. She was the youngest mayor in Canada (at the time) when she was elected at the age of 35. Millar then became the first mayor of the new City of Cambridge when the towns of Galt, Preston and Hespeler came together through amalgamation in 1973. She oversaw the city's creation and dealt with the devastating flooding of the Grand River in 1974. In 1978 Millar was re-elected Mayor of Cambridge, a position she held for the next ten years.

Claudette Instrumental In Forging A New Community From Three

“I think it was a challenge for Claudette, because of obviously amalgamations that were forced right across Ontario weren’t popular, and certainly wasn’t at that time in Cambridge,” says Regional Chair Ken Seiling. “She was faced with the task of, forging a new community, a new identity and bringing together three different communities. She worked hard at it, and was very, very loyal to Cambridge.”

"She was a feisty, lovable friend, fun to work with, astute politically and never confrontational," Seiling said. "Claudette never worked behind your back. She was upfront, we could have some great arguments about things, but it was always done with respect," said Seiling.

Later, Millar was instrumental in bringing the Toyota plant to Cambridge. She was inducted into the Cambridge hall of fame in 2014, and into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame on April 26, 2015.

Justice Paddy Hardman, and a close friend of Millar's, commended Millar for her dedication as a politician.

"Claudette always tried to put the community's best interests in the forefront of every decision she made," Hardman said.

MIllar loved Cambridge, and understood that you can't win every fight but when she believed in something strongly enough, you indeed had a fight on your hands to take it away from her.

Claudette did things and got things done. She loved cigarettes, engaging conversations, and the Liberal Party. She was an active environmentalist before it was cool to the mainstream and a strong supporter of heritage.

God bless you Claudette...and may you never stop your journey in time.

Flags At Half-mast Honouring Former Mayor Claudette Millar

A book of condolences will be available at the Cambridge City Hall, 50 Dickson Street on Thursday, February 11 until the date of memorial service to capture memories, signatures and personal messages from members of the community. The book will be given to the family.

The Following Is From The Region of Waterloo Hall of Fame:

Claudette Marie Hall was born in Belleville, Ontario, moving with her family to Kitchener when she was 12 years of age. She grew up talking about political issues with her family around the dinner table. Upon completing university and working abroad for a few years, she returned to Kitchener in the mid 1960s, marrying Clare Millar.

In 1970, Millar attended a Preston Council meeting where a contentious development project was going to be approved without much public consultation. Motivated by this meeting, Millar ran for office and was elected as the last mayor of the former town of Preston.

As mayor, Millar served on numerous city and regional committees, commissions and boards. She was particularly involved in urban core revitalization, riverbank development and environmental issues.

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