Township of Stone Mills Identity: Is There Purpose in a Community Voice?

Katherine Burrows

[This article appears in the February/March 2020 issue of The SCOOP.]

In a country that has celebrated 152 birthdays since Confederation, in a province that was included in the original British North America act, and in a county that is fast approaching 220 years of incorporation, where does the Township of Stone Mills fit in?

In 1998, the several municipalities in Lennox & Addington County were reorganized and amalgamated to create Stone Mills Township and three other townships. Although there is significant history in the area and in the former townships, Stone Mills is still in its infancy and its character and identity are still being defined.

Residents who are alive right now have a unique opportunity to have our say in how Stone Mills grows. 

The Community Voice is a small group of people who responded to a poster inviting concerned citizens to a meeting in early 2019. We have given this opportunity a lot of thought and discussion. We realized that in the past year there are issues of concern that affect all residents, whether we live in the villages or on rural roads -- things that could bring us together and foster a sense of belonging to Stone Mills.

We are excited and inspired by the possibilities. We are curious to know what other Stone Mills residents think. We hope that a Stone Mills identity matters to the people of this township.

If Stone Mills had an identity, what would it be?

There are positive things in our township we want to carry forward. Why do residents choose to live here? What attracts newcomers? What keeps those who grow up here rooted in the area? What are the strengths of our community? What assets do we have (agriculture, local businesses, natural resources, etc.)? What do we love about living here?

There are things that need improvement or a start that will shape the direction of Stone Mills now and in the future. What could be improved? What do we do well that we might do more of? What new direction would you like to see Stone Mills take? What values do we want to embody in the future? What legacy do we want to leave for future generations?

Many existing groups have already accomplished much in promoting local history, culture, and tourism.  What if we viewed all these existing efforts as valuable pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that adds up to a Stone Mills identity? What if we combined the current efforts with new ideas to create a solid identity that Stone Mills residents can support?  An identity that allows both current and future residents to see themselves reflected in the distinct personality that is Stone Mills, an identity that all residents could share with pride. Who we are cannot be found anywhere else. We are the one and only township of Stone Mills.

Is there a purpose for a Community Voice in Stone Mills?

Like any true collaboration, a Stone Mills identity would celebrate the best of our individual differences, combining them in a way that creates something greater than the sum of its parts. Residents who are part of a town or hamlet, and residents who live in our rural areas, could all identify with this common ground.

If the jigsaw puzzle that is Stone Mills was laid out on your kitchen table, what would you see? There has already been a lot of valuable work done. But maybe some pieces are still missing. Maybe the overall picture is still unclear.

The Community Voice group is interested in helping promote a Stone Mills identity.

In the Township of Stone Mills Identity, where do you fit? 

Please take some time in the next few days to think about what a Stone Mills identity looks like to you. What picture do you see when you look at that puzzle?

What do you appreciate about living in Stone Mills? What changes would you like to see? What values do you think Stone Mills should represent? Where do you want to see our township in the next five/ten/twenty years? What are you willing to do to make that happen?

The Community Voice group wants to hear your thoughts and ideas. 

Live in Stone Mills? Have concerns? Want to connect? Stay informed by attending the Community Voice meetings on the last Wednesday of the month. We meet from 6:30-8 pm at the Bookstore Café in Camden East. Our next meeting is Wednesday, February 26 at 6:30 pm. We look forward to hearing from you.