For Women of the Year in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category
For her unique and important role in preserving the history of St. Marys and Perth County, Mary Smith from St. Marys was presented the Optimism Place Woman of the Year Award for Arts, Culture and Heritage at the annual gala fund-raising dinner held on Friday, October 18, at the Arden Park Hotel in Stratford. Mary is pictured being presented the award by Tanya Diehl on behalf of Tradition Mutual. Tanya is also a member of the Board for Optimism Place.
When Mary Smith became the first professional curator of the St. Marys museum in 1980, she took on the enormous job of organizing, conserving and cataloguing a chaotic accumulation of artifacts that filled every room of the museum – and she did this working part-time! Today the St. Marys Museum is a valued resource well-used by locals as well as by historians from across Canada. Mary’s dedication to the museum, to preserving history and to her community has gone far beyond her professional capacity as curator. She served for many years on the St. Marys Heritage Advisory Committee and has assisted people of all ages who want to learn more about local history and contribute to local knowledge. Since retiring in 2010, Mary has continued to bring to life the history of the area, including producing histories of the St. Marys Public Library, St. Marys Memorial Hospital, the Presbyterian Church, St. James Anglican Church, and the St. Marys Cement Company, and currently writing a weekly column for the St. Marys Independent. Throughout her career, she has served as an important role model and mentor to girls and women.
Optimism Place Women’s Shelter and Support Services supports women alone or with children to live free of abuse by providing shelter and confidential, nonjudgmental service. Located in Stratford, Optimism Place engages in prevention, intervention, education and advocacy to end violence against women in Perth County. Optimism Place Women of the Year Awards honour Perth County women who have improved the lives of other women and girls through outstanding contributions in eight different categories. Readers can check the Optimism Place website https://www.optimismplace.com/ for a list of all the nominees and winners. Optimism Place can be reached at 519-271-5550.