Cancer claims mayor
Outspoken Trent Hills mayor Hec Macmillan loses long, public battle with the disease
TRENT HILLS - A man who fought for the people passed away Tuesday morning after battling cancer.
Trent Hills Mayor Hector Macmillan passed away at the age of 59.
Family broke the news on Tuesday morning that Macmillan had died, surrounded by his wife Sandy and four children.
The mayor of Trent Hills for 14 years and twice warden of Northumberland County was known throughout his community and well beyond for taking on the fight after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2016.
Doctors said he would be gone by Christmas, but through his fight, and determination and will to find a cure, Macmillan lived long well after what doctors had told him.
When the Province of Ontario wouldn’t help, Macmillan was set to travel to the United States, but ending up going to Germany for nano-knife surgery.
Macmillan made no bones about calling on the Ontario government to make available the surgery for cancer patients.
Macmillan said the nano-knife surgery was being used in more than 50 hospitals in the United States and demanded it be used for Ontario patients.
Five years earlier, Macmillan conquered oesophageal cancer.
Northumberland County issued a release by Northumberland County Warden Mark Walas stating Macmillan lost his “brave battle” with cancer on Tuesday morning.
Walas stated Macmillan, “was an absolute force to be reckoned,” and Macmillan “expressed an unwavering dedication and commitment to the betterment of his community.”
Macmillan’s legacy in Northumberland County held many accomplishments including significant improvements to local road and bridge infrastructure, advancements in paramedic first response, development of a Long Term Waste Management Master Plan, including expansion of Northumberland’s recycling program, and milestones such as the development of a successful bid to host the first-ever inter-municipal set of Parasport Games.
Macmillan worked tirelessly for his community and securing a new river crossing in Campbellford.
“In everything that Councillor Macmillan did, his constituents were his foremost consideration, and the long-term progress and prosperity of the Municipality of Trent Hills his utmost desire. Even as his illness progressed, he remained steadfast in fulfilling the responsibilities of office, right up until his final days.”
“I can personally say that over all the years we served together on Northumberland County Council, I developed significant respect for Councillor Macmillan’s vigilant pursuit of public service,” said Walas.
“Even more than that, I valued his friendship. He was larger than life, he had enormous impact, and I know I speak for all of Council and staff when I say that he will be sincerely missed. I extend my deepest condolences to Councillor Macmillan’s family and friends, and to all of the residents of the Municipality of Trent Hills.”
Trent Hills Fire Chief Tim Blake is another person who understands the enormous contribution Macmillan made to his community.
Blake said, something that anyone who knew Macmillan would say, “he wasn’t your typical politician.”
“He did a lot of great things and he did them the right way. There was no beating around the bush.”
The integrity and pride Macmillan had for his community was unwavering. The determination he had in making things right was something just as strong.
“If it was something he felt was right, he did it and he stood by it. And he was man enough if he did make a mistake to say it,” he said. “That’s what I admired about him the most - he wasn’t a typical politican.”
Blake said sometimes as a politician you have to make decisions that aren’t necessarily popular.
“But he’d tell you why he voted that way or why we should take that path. Not very often you get somebody like that.”
Macmillan and Blake had been working together since 2008 on the flooding along Green Acres and in the community of Trent Hills.
One long weekend, Blake said Macmillan took his family with him after there was a complaint about sandbags.
“That’s just the kind of person he was - the whole family was involved.”
From a fire department perspective, Macmillan was a strong supporter of the department - literally.
When the bridge in downtown was closed, he said “anything I can do to help, Chief.”
The fire department was divided up into two stations at that time, with one being on each side of the river.
Blake said they needed a driver for the rescue unit.
Without hesitation, Macmillan said he would gladly help out.
Macmillan was a welcome sight for major fires as he would always look after the firefighters.
“One time we had a barn fire and we were looking for food for the firemen and everything in town was closed.”
Blake remembers at the time it was extremely foggy out.
“I wondered where the heck did he get too?”
“He ended up driving to Peterborough to three different places to get enough food to bring back.”
At one major fire, Blake got one of his firefighters to get refreshments at Tim Hortons. When Macmillan found out, Blake said he was gently reminded whose job that was, he said with a laugh.
“That’s my job,” he said to Blake in no uncertain terms.
“He had a radio and a pager and he was always there - and we loved to have him.”
“It didn’t matter what time it was the day or what was going on, he’d be right there for the firefighters making sure they got what they needed.”
Blake said Macmillan grew up in the community, and his father was mayor at one point.
Macmillan later moved away for a period of time, but “he would always come back home.” He would eventually own a bowling alley.
“He helped a lot of people and he was very proud of that,” Blake said. “A lot of people called him and thanked him for his story and were planning on going to Germany. Or even to give them that ‘fight’ attitude. He was one of a kind. Never be another one like him. Certainly not as unique as him and to be able to stay the course when you have a lot of people going in other directions.”
As news broke Tuesday, a moment of silence was observed at the start of Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting in Hamilton Township.It was a sombre start to the session as Hamilton Township Mayor Mark Lovshin said he knew councillors, and the municipality, wanted top ass along their condolences to the Macmillan family as well as to Trent Hills. Lovshin sat in county council with Macmillan for many years and heard, as did others in the council chambers, as the long-time politician talked publically about his personal struggle and victories with cancer, as well as the struggle and victories lobbying the provincial government to change the financial system through OHIP to help those like himself facing this deadly disease.
MPP Lou Rinaldi also weighed in Tuesday in a written statement: “It is with great sadness that I’ve learned of the passing of my friend Hector Macmillan. Hector was always a fighter, a champion and a fierce advocate for those he represented.”
Trent Hills Mayor Hec Macmillan has died after a battle with cancer. He's pictured here in a 2011 file photo taken in Campbellford.