For years, Bernie MacDonald was an important figure in the Carleton Place community, particularly to the 100 or so seniors he mobilized into a more active and social lifestyle.
“He had an email list, and they would come together and go biking in the summer and skiing and skating in the wintertime,” says, Jeff Mills, retired engagement director at Almonte’s Carebridge Community Support and friend of Bernie says in an interview with Lanarkist.
“In the summer they’d even go tubing on the Mississippi River; they would also have corn roasts and things like that.”
These events ended after MacDonald sadly passed away on March 19, 2022 at the age of 85.
“He was the glue and it fell apart,” Mills says.
Then several weeks ago, he was at an event at the Station Active Living Centre in Carleton Place.
“A woman came up to me and said ‘I really miss those things that we used to do with Bernie,’” Mills explains.
“So I said we’ll have to find Bernie 2.0 and we’ll do the best we can.”
This led to the creation of Ride for Bernie. The inaugural event is taking place on Wednesday, Sept. 27 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The group will cycle from Station Active Living Centre in Carleton Place to Almonte and back on the OVRT, followed by coffee and a chat.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a bike, a snack, and some stories to share about Bernie.
“As Bernie would insist, this ride is open to all, including new residents unfamiliar with his legacy of social connection and healthy active living pursuits with area residents,” Mills writes in a Facebook post. “Fun for all!”
Mills tells Lanarkist that what MacDonald was doing “was grassroots and pure community development without any money and it was brilliant. The connections that people had and how they followed up with each other beyond the activities was really, really admirable.”
Mills notes that while it would be neat to see the event turn into an annual Ride for Bernie, he doesn’t need to ‘own’ it himself.
“What I’d like to see is the Station Active Living Centre organize all the stuff Bernie was doing so it can happen again,” he says.