Lewis raised the bar for the OPP
When Chris Lewis turns in his Ontario Provincial Police badge in March, the men and women who serve under him will be losing more than a boss; they will be saying goodbye to a good friend. For Lewis, the OPP is family. No commissioner has been held in such high regard by those who serve under him, or as in one case, her. He is a cop’s cop, and then some. It has been a 35- year climb up the stairs to the commissioner’s office in 2010, but Lewis has never let the power and pomp of the office go to his head.
A good example of Lewis’ style came through loud and clear shortly after he took over command of the force from the flamboyant Julian Fantino. He showed up at Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry headquarters in Long Sault to meet with the troops with coffee and muffins in hand.
His knack for remembering names and faces of officers is nothing short of amazing. On his visit to Long Sault, he surprised a constable by calling him by his first name, despite the fact they had only met once before.
A few years ago when an OPP officer was killed in the line of duty, the next day in a letter distributed to the rank and file, he poured out his raw emotional feelings about the loss. It came from the heart. One officer told me he put down the letter down and cried.
“It was written by a man who cares for his people,” said the officer. “In this job, that means something.”
Lewis took heat from many in the media when he refused to send officers in to break up an Idle No More demonstration near his hometown of Sarnia. He reasoned that diplomacy was a better option rather than risking bloodshed. In the end, he was right.
He got his start as a young constable in Kapuskasing, then went to Smooth Rock Falls. While testifying at the Cornwall Public Inquiry, the judge joked that “Deputy Commissioner Lewis, with two postings like that you must have stood first in your ( graduation) class at police college.”
People who worked with Lewis over the years knew he was headed for the top.
Lewis spent considerable time in the Cornwall area as an inspector heading up an undercover operation aimed at out- ofcontrol smuggling.
As a superintendent, Lewis was back in this area, serving as chief of the Eastern Region. He then moved up to deputy commissioner in charge of field operations, working out of the Orillia headquarters.
Lewis is the first police officer to have been awarded all three levels of the Canadian Order of Merit of the Police Forces, presented by three successive governors- general.
When the federal government threw in the towel on the screwed up experiment with a civilian as RCMP commissioner, Lewis was on the short list, but as he put it, “I bleed ( OPP) blue.”
Ironically, instead of joining the RCMP he was instrumental in recruiting the highly- talented Mike McDonell, an RCMP deputy commissioner, to serve as commander of the OPP’s SD and G operation.
Too many times the line about leaving a big pair of shoes to fill is overused, but in this case it fits. Lewis raised the bar for the OPP. TRIVIA ANSWER St. Lawrence Breweries Ltd. was at the corner of Water and Augustus streets. The brewery, which at its peak produced 8,000 gallons of beer daily, was built in 1907 but later fell on hard times and closed in 1920. Town council had granted the brewery owners a 10- year property tax exemption. Years later the vacant building was converted to a storage facility for cheese. In its last years it was home to the Gordon ice plant.
TRIVIA This Academy Award winning actress played one of the lead roles in a movie filmed at Upper Canada Village. Hint - She was once married to a future president of the United States. Bonus if you can name the actor who played the lead male role in the movie.
IN THE REAR- VIEW MIRROR Beaver Lumber on Second Street East. ... Gareau Cleaning and Dyeing at 51 Pitt St. ... Fit- Rite Shoe Store, 216 Pitt St. ... Stanford & Kennedy ( Established 1911) Wholesale, 150 Pitt St. ... Cliff McDonell International Trucks, Hudson and Packard cars, 436 Second St. W. ... The General 5 cent to $ 1 Store, 1 Marlborough St. S. ... People’s 5- 10- 15 cenet to $ 1 Store, 124 Pitt St. ... N. Miller & Sons scrap iron dealer, 513 Pitt St. ... Eastern Hardware Store ( G. H. Girard proprietor), 201 Montreal Rd. ... Wilson’s Wool Shop, Second Street West ( next to Capitol Theatre) ... The Colonial Coach bus terminal that was part of the Hotel Cornwallis, next door to that favourite hangout, Shirley’s Restaurant.
HERE & THERE Okay, so we had a frigid and snowy run- up to Christmas. The good news is that winter finally arrived on Dec. 21 and according to millionaire climate change gurus David Suzuki and Al Gore our winters are becoming more mild. So, break out the sun tan lotion and beach umbrellas. ... Mayor Bob Kilger ( again) confirmed during interview on Corus Radio that he will be in the October mayoral race. So far, no official challengers but Mark MacDonald did indicate several months back that he was planning to run. No other takers in the hopper at this point, albeit on his website the blogger “threatened” to run against the mayor. Ho- hum! For the mayor, that would be the election campaign gift that keeps on giving. .. ... Staffing at The Standard- Freeholder has been sliced so thin ( down to three editors, two general assignment reporters and one sports writer) Publisher Pete Padbury this year was able to cover the annual office Christmas luncheon with an extra- large pizza and large order of fries.
SEEN & HEARD The resounding praise for newly crowned SD and G warden Eric Duncan by MP Guy Lauzon at the Dec. 6 swearing in ceremony sure sounded like a solid endorsement for the person many believe will succeed the veteran Conservative MP when he retires, perhaps on the eve of the next election.
ONE LAST THING Life is a journey, so enjoy every mile.