The City of White Rock has honoured a longtime community treasure.
Lorraine Ellenwood, director emeritus of the White Rock Museum and Archives, was presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by Mayor Wayne Baldwin in a brief ceremony during the city council meeting Monday.
The Canadian version of the medal, given by local governments on behalf of the Queen, celebrates the jubilee by honouring Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have made a significant contribution to their community and the country over the last 60 years.
Some 60,000 Canadians will be awarded the medal this year.
Baldwin said that while being allotted only one medal to give to a notable White Rock resident was the cause of some “soul-searching,” Ellenwood’s record of volunteer work, particularly in preserving White Rock’s history, was “clearly beyond the call of duty.”
“I can tell you, unequivocally, that if it had not been for Lorraine, we would not have a museum today,” Baldwin said.
“It was a work of love for her, but it was a lot of work that took her away from her family. It’s something the city should truly be grateful for.”
Ellenwood came to White Rock from Montreal in 1975, with husband Don and sons David and Hugh (now White Rock archivist and, alongside his mother, the Peace Arch News ‘Historical Perspectives’ columnist).
Ellenwood became a member of the White Rock Historical Society shortly after she arrived. She spent years as a volunteer archivist with the museum, taking over as curator in 1983 and becoming its first executive director in 1986.
Baldwin noted that Ellenwood also shepherded the museum through the difficult period in the 1990s, in which its collection lost its home when the federal government sold the former post office building in which it had been housed.
“Lorraine kept it all together,” he said.
Ellenwood subsequently supervised the museum’s transition to a new home in the former BNSF station building with a new board and mandate.
Baldwin also paid tribute to Ellenwood’s volunteer work helping those with dyslexia, the Semiahmoo Swim Club and the Peninsula Arts Foundation – and her essential history of White Rock’s pre-incorporation period, Years Of Promise – 1858-1958, which, he noted, she did without remuneration.
“Lorraine has done a lot that doesn’t get picked up,” he said.
In accepting the medal last week, Ellenwood thanked those she has worked with over the years for their “energies and dedication” and also White Rock council members.
“I’m grateful,” she said. “This proves that you have thought White Rock heritage is worth preserving.”
Ellenwood told Peace Arch News Wednesday that she is honoured to be selected for the medal, considering “White Rock is a hotbed of community volunteers.”
“One of the chief honours is to be thought of among such an elite group who are active in so many ways and talented in so many directions.”
The medal will join her already extensive collection of royal memorabilia, she said, adding it reminds her of a George V Silver Jubilee medal from 1935 that a friend found for her in England years ago.
But, with typical dry humour, she quipped that she may have to return a Diamond Jubilee plate she purchased in Harrods during a stopover in London earlier this year.
“I now have this as my souvenir,” she said.
– with files from Sarah Massah