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OPINION: Town of Renfrew: A Historic Gem Embracing a Thriving Future




After a brief hiatus due to technical glitches, the Cross Border Cross Country Tour was back on the road Tueday, and its first significant stop was none other than the charming town of Renfrew, Ontario. Nestled just north of Canada's capital, Ottawa, Renfrew boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture that captivates the imagination. As we set foot in this vibrant community, we were immediately struck by its unique blend of tradition and progress, embodied by its youthful and dynamic mayor, Tom Sidney.


For those unfamiliar with Renfrew, it may come as a surprise to learn that this quaint town holds a significant place in Canadian history. Renfrew's illustrious past includes being the home of the Renfrew Fair, one of Canada's oldest agricultural exhibitions. This annual event not only showcases the town's deep-rooted rural heritage but also serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of community engagement and celebration.


Even more remarkable is Renfrew's contribution to gender equality. The town proudly claims Dr. Charlotte Whitton as its own—a trailblazer who made history as the first female mayor of a Canadian city. Dr. Whitton's remarkable tenure as Mayor of Ottawa from 1951 to 1956 and again from 1960 to 1964 continues to inspire generations and embodies the spirit of progress that Renfrew holds dear.


Our rendezvous in Renfrew led us to a vibrant cafe nestled in the heart of the town's downtown core—a space that was once a men's clothing store. Stepping inside, we were enveloped in a symphony of scents, from the aroma of freshly baked bread to the allure of pastries and the invigorating scent of freshly brewed coffee. It was a sensory delight that mirrored the town's multifaceted charm.


As we strolled through Renfrew's bustling downtown streets, it became evident that this community is thriving. Almost every storefront is occupied, and the constant ebb and flow of people adds an air of vitality to the surroundings. A bustling downtown is often the hallmark of a prosperous community, and Renfrew wears this badge with pride.


Mayor Tom Sidney, and Cross Border Interview Host Chris Brown

Mayor Tom Sidney is a true embodiment of the town's progressive spirit. A fresh face in the world of local governance, Sidney brings youthful energy and an innovative perspective to his role as the town's first-term mayor. Breaking the mold of expectations, he defies preconceived notions of leadership in a rural setting, ushering in a new era of vision and dynamism.


In my conversation with Mayor Sidney, his passion for the community's growth and development was evident.


Our conversation with Mayor Sidney illuminated his commitment to Renfrew's growth and development. As we traversed the downtown streets and contemplated the town's future, it was evident that Renfrew's aspirations are slowly transforming into reality. The desire for progress and evolution is palpable, a driving force that propels the town toward becoming a beacon of ingenuity and modernity while cherishing its storied past.


For those embarking on a journey through Renfrew County, a visit to the Town of Renfrew is an absolute must. Meander through its majestic downtown core, immerse yourself in its rich history, and witness firsthand the remarkable strides this historic community is taking to carve a path towards the town of tomorrow.


Renfrew stands as a testament to the harmony between tradition and progress—a balance that defines its character and sets an inspiring example for communities far and wide.

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