Elliot Lake has lost one of its long-time residents and the person responsible for why we have Vimy Ridge Day. Bob Manuel has passed away at the age of 82. Manuel was born in a small town in England, was raised and educated in Kirkland Lake and later was part of the Korean War. He moved to Elliot Lake in 1956 where he met his future wife Colleen. Over the years Manuel was heavily involved with the Royal Canadian Legion and he was honoured with numerous awards and recognitions. Among them were the Canadian Peace Keeping Medal, the Canada 125 Medal and the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal. He was also the recipient of several certificates of merit and served as Legion president for the Elliot Lake branch for many years. Wikipedia has a page on Manuel detailing some of his life including his many accomplishments.
A week before passing away, Manuel took part in the local ceremony of the 100th anniversary of the Vimy Ridge battle. A couple of days later at city council, councillor Connie Nykyforak told the public Manuel was at the event. She also highlighted how he got the ball rolling to get Canada to recognize Vimy Ridge Day by recalling she was one of the people to sign his petition on the matter. But Manuel didn’t only approach Elliot Lake and area residents to push for a Vimy Ridge Day. He sent letters to high profile people. Among them were CBC national news anchor Peter Mansbridge, Lloyd Robertson who anchored the CTV national news and former Prime Minister Joe Clark. All supported his quest. As those support letters came in, Manuel kept them and put them in a special album. That album is now off to the Prime Minister so there’s a record that shows how the Vimy Ridge Day drive came about.
After years of work, then riding MP Brent St. Denis introduced a Private Members Bill calling for April 9th to be recognized as Vimy Ridge Day. The Bill got unanimous support. Mayor Dan Marchisella says Manuel was one of the most inspiring people he has ever met and the work he did was simply amazing. Manuel passed away on Good Friday. He was pre-deceased by his wife Collen and leaves behind four children Robert, Christine, Stephen, and Terry. Manuel’s life will be celebrated at Branch 561 of the Legion this Friday beginning at 11:00am.