Doonanco among the longest serving mayors in Canada
By: Shauna Burke
| Posted: Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010 06:00 am
Johnnie Doonanco is an outgoing, charismatic personality that served the Glendon community as mayor for the past 39 years. Elected to office in December 1970, he is among the longest serving mayors in Canada, which has earned him the respect of both seasoned politicians and the local townsfolk of Glendon.
“I really commend Johnnie. There are very few people who would dedicate as much time as he has for his community,” said Hector Goudreau, Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs, who said he has met Doonanco many times over the years.
“This world would be a much, much better place if we had a lot more Johnnies, in terms of wanting to fight for his community, to work for his community, and to do what he thought was best for his community.”
Doonanco was well known in the community for being friendly and knowing almost everyone in town by name, said Nancy Pelletier, owner of the Glendon restaurant, Green Acres. She noted Doonanco was always available, even on short notice, to greet visitors to the town and offer them souvenirs to promote the town.
“He was a great mayor,” said Pelletier. She recalled that last year when a group of visitors from Quebec stopped by to take pictures of the giant perogy, she called Doonanco and he arrived within 15 minutes with pens and other small gifts for them.
“They were very impressed because it is not everywhere that a mayor would go out of his way like that to greet people who visit the town.”
Glendon is known for being the home of the world’s largest perogy. It has become one of the best known attractions in Alberta, having appeared several times on television news and attracting many tourists to the town. It was built in 1991 and a time capsule was placed in the ground at that time, which is due to be opened next year.
The town has gone through many changes under Doonanco’s leadership. Natural gas was brought into the community and he oversaw the construction of the arena, the hospital, the seniors hall, the Glendon RCMP Hall and the fire hall. More recently, last year he spearheaded $50,000 in upgrades to Glendon’s baseball diamonds. He was planning the construction of a new seniors facility and committed funding to re-do sidewalks around the Glendon Hall and arena.
Doonanco said he is proud of the way he left Glendon.
“The way I left the town is like leaving a house fully furnished,” said Doonanco. “It has tractors, garbage trucks and good facilities.”
Doonanco was born in 1939 in a farmhouse just five miles south of Glendon, near Beacon Corner. In 1949, his family moved into the town and he has lived there ever since. At age 21, he met, fell in love with, and married his wife Mary, who was only 18 at the time. They have one daughter, Debbie Lee. He built a thriving school bus business and worked many part-time jobs along the way, spending many years as maintenance man at the local hospital, aside from his work as mayor.
“I was born and raised in this community and just wanted to give back to make it a better place,” said Doonanco.
Although he was disappointed to lose the Oct. 18 municipal election to his successor, Larry Lofstrand, he feels his legacy of having served the village for 39 years will live on in Glendon.