Author: Dr. Debra Nash-Chambers

Publication Date: 2010

Edited: 2022



Historic Guelph Mr. & Mrs. Norm Jary V49P4Mr. & Mrs. Norm Jary

(Photo courtesy of Norm Jary).



"I will be forever humble and grateful to the citizens of Guelph for the great opportunity to serve them. I have met any numbers of VIPs over my lifetime, from prime ministers of Canada, governors general, leaders of other countries, and dignitaries of all kinds, but none more important than the people of Guelph. They are the real VIPs."

- Former Mayor Norm Jary, July 20091


The history of Guelph in the late-twentieth century is intricately interwoven with the public service of the City of Guelph's longest serving mayor, Norm Jary. Mayor Jary began his nearly 16-year career at the helm of civic government in June of 1970 after serving on City Council since 1964.2 When Mayor Ralph Smith resigned early in an elected term, fellow aldermen chose Jary to be Mayor for the duration of the term. On Friday, June 5, 1970, the Guelph Mercury declared that in,


"Less than thirty minutes [on] Thursday a shuffle at City Hall saw Mayor Ralph Smith resign, accept the position of city industrial commissioner, and Alderman Norm Jary acclaimed, and sworn in as Guelph's new mayor."3


Alderman Jary first had to resign as Chair of the Finance Committee. Already, the councillor who led the polls, Norm Jary was a logical choice to serve as mayor for the duration of Smith's term of office.4 Norm Jary began his many years as the mayor of the City of Guelph by following up his appointment with an acclamation at election time, allowing him to continue to serve as mayor in 1971. In fact, Norm Jary was acclaimed as mayor until his 1978 election victory. He then had unbroken terms as mayor of the City of Guelph until he chose not to run for re-election as mayor in 1985.


Historic Guelph V49P6

Governor General Jules Leger and Mayor Jary on City Hall steps, Guelph's 150th anniversary, May 14, 1977.

(Photo courtesy of Guelph Museums).


Mayor Jary's political success can be attributed to his belief in open, democratic, civic municipal government that represents all the people in the community. His dedication to accepting a wide array of invitations to participate in local events gave the City a mayor that met local residents and heard their needs face-to-face. This practice enabled him to promote his belief that a mayor should serve the broad spectrum of the municipal population, not just special interests.5 There is no doubt that Mayor Jary's belief in participatory democracy contributed to his popularity as mayor. Over his years as mayor, his political ambitions meant perfecting the art of balancing civic demands on his time with family life and a busy broadcasting career. Yet, when Mayor Jary decided to retire as mayor in 1985, he did not withdraw from civic politics. Nor did his new 15-year career as a city councillor representing Ward Three diminish his concern for the community at-large. His final retirement from politics in 2000, after nearly 40 years in civic government, was a great disappointment for the electorate, but it did not end Norm Jary's involvement in his community.


Historic Guelph V49P7

Mrs. N. Jary, (bottom left) Mrs. R. Allan, Mrs. H. Carey, and Mrs. H. Worton. The Canadian Diabetic Association held an annual tea to raise money to send diabetic children to camp. (Canadian Diabetic Association, 20 May 1976).

(Photo courtesy of the Guelph Public Library Archives (C6-0000396)).


Norm Jary is quick to note that none of his success in local politics or his long career as a broadcaster would have been possible without the love and support of his family. Seeing Norm and his wife, Jean, together makes it very clear that after a long life as a married couple and parents, Norm Jary still believes that meeting Jean was the best thing that ever happened to him.6 Jean Jary is more reserved than her husband but they share a keen sense of humour and a dedication to family and community. Both Jarys are known for their integrity and positive outlook on life. The couple met at church in Toronto when they were in their teens. Norm was just 15 and it was love at first sight for him. Winning Jean may have been his first successful campaign. They married seven years later and together they raised twin daughters Linda and Sandra, son, Norm Jr., and their youngest daughter, Marilyn. Norm and Jean are the proud grandparents of five grown grandchildren.


Over the years of Norm's public life, Jean poured thousands of cups of tea at local afternoon social events, attended countless ribbon cuttings, and addressed the daily needs of their family before spending many evenings at local banquets and other public functions. Their children were largely in their teen and early adult years when Norm was mayor so Jean had greater freedom to fulfill her civic responsibilities as the mayor's wife.7 Rather than dreading the time demands of civic politics, the Jarys worked as a team and viewed the evening and weekend events as an opportunity to spend time together.8 Norm preferred, to accept invitations to events that both of them could attend. In 1972, Norm surprised Jean at the scheduled opening of a new eatery on York Road by kissing her unexpectedly and then welcoming everyone in attendance to the celebration of his twentieth wedding anniversary.9


Norm Jary is frank about his motivation to succeed in civic politics and his perspective reflects his appreciation for Jean's contribution to his success. He regards Jean as 'a marvel' who canvassed for him, answered home phone calls from the electorate when he was out and, "Acted as an at-home secretary, which meant not hiring as many people for the department at City Hall."10 He feels that in his case, "The public really elected two people to office," and that Jean, "Certainly kept me from getting too high with success in public life and was my main motivation. I wanted to be worthy of her love and support."11 Jean Jary always supported her husband's political ambitions with grace, a sense of humour, and long hours of dedication to the Guelph community. The Jary children adjusted to their parents' busy lives and remained a closely knit family, gathering at 61 Freeman Avenue for weekly family dinners long after their son and daughters departed to live their own lives. The night that Norm became mayor, Jean gathered the children in the front hall, so they could greet him as Mr. Mayor when he returned home. Norm recalls that Marilyn, the youngest daughter, asked him if his new responsibilities meant a raise in their allowances.12 The Jarys adjusted their family schedules to Norm's radio and civic political schedules so they could eat dinner together whenever possible, even if that meant family dinner-time was 4:30 P.M. Norm often traveled to City Hall to do paperwork before his early morning newscasts while his son and daughters were still asleep.13 All of the Jarys' children were encouraged by their parents to find their own career passions after high school and none entered politics. Only Linda followed her father into journalism and enjoyed a career as newspaper reporter and columnist upon graduation from the University of Western Ontario. Sandra attended the University of Guelph and became a social worker assisting intellectually-challenged adults, Marilyn, a health and safety officer, studied Criminology at Conestoga College, and Norm Jr. is now a consultant following early retirement from Ontario Hydro. No matter what choices they made, they were encouraged to remember an axiom that guided Norm in life:


"Disappointment shouldn't come from something that didn't work out as well as you might have wanted. Disappointment should come when you don't do anything."14


Norm never wanted to disappoint his family while in civic life or in the public eye as a broadcaster, so being hardworking, honest, and ethical was important to him.15


Historic Guelph V49P9

Norm Jary and Gord Hall, City Clerk (left) accept artwork produced by Brian MacMillan for Guelph's 150th Anniversary.

(Photo courtesy of Guelph Public Library Archives (F45-0120093)).


Both Norm and Jean Jary are grateful that Norm's broadcasting career brought them to Guelph in 1954, so their children could be raised in such a fine community. Jean learned of the move to radio CJOY the same day as she gave birth to their identical twin daughters, Linda and Sandra. Norm Jary was News and Sports Director of CJOY and CKLA when he became mayor. His interest in broadcasting started with his early success as a public speaker while at school in Toronto. In high school, he won the Lieutenant Governor's Trophy for debating and his, "Interest in the spoken word," began.16 The former mayor is an honours graduate of the Academy of Radio and Television Arts. He remains a polished, captivating speaker who regards each introduction or speech as a responsibility that requires thought, effort, and a personal touch. One of the reasons that Princess Anne was one of the most memorable people he met in public life, was that she made it a point of making informed, personal comments and asked him about his hobby of photography when they were introduced.17 In 2006, Mercury columnist Alan Ferris, wrote that following Norm Jary as a speaker was daunting. "Next to being a nude, blindfolded, flaming torch juggler, following Norm at the microphone was the worst job around."18 This talent also won Jary acclaim as a play-by-play sports broadcaster. In his youth, Norm Jary always enjoyed participating in a variety of sports and was a good athlete. While he excelled at running, he never reached 'championship caliber' in any sport and, later in life, sports broadcasting gave him an outlet for his interest in athletics.19


Norm Jary was hired as a broadcaster by radio station CJOY in 1954, but his first contact with radio CJOY and Guelph came two years earlier via his friendship with fellow broadcaster and future CTV news anchor, Lloyd Robertson. In the early 1950s, both men worked for radio station CJC-S in Stratford. At a 1994 retirement celebration of Jary's 40 years of local broadcasting, Robertson told the 300 guests at Guelph's Italian Canadian Club (ICC) that he worked in the booth spinning records while Norm was the on-air personality, "Until one day Jary told him, 'Kid, I am going to give you your big break,' and made him introduce two songs."20 Robertson discovered that he liked being in front of the microphone. Jary kept Robertson company when the latter traveled to Guelph to apply for a job at CJOY. While waiting for Robertson to conclude his interview, Jary filled out the application for employment at CJOY that led to him being hired by the station's management two years later - a business relationship that would last four decades. At the ICC retirement party in 1994, LIoyd Robertson reflected on his respect for his friend and revealed that Norm Jary reminded Robertson of his own father. He told the guests gathered that Jary was,


"Only the second man in my life to tell me, and prove, the importance of having a generous spirit."21


When Norm Jary retired from broadcasting in April 1994, the Guelph Mercury reported,


"Guelph's most beloved citizen was roasted by colleagues and friends during a gala retirement party marking the end of his 40-year career. His familiar voice has delivered the news to generations of city residents, and last night they gathered to honour him."22


For one last time, Jary offered Guelph radio listeners his familiar broadcast sign-off by stating "My name is Norm Jary - just in case you need me for something."23 Sports fans remember Norm Jary as a compelling hockey play-by-play personality for both Guelph's Biltmores and as the voice of the New York Rangers. In fact, he was immortalized in sports history in 1966 as the commentator who covered the Rangers the night that Bobby Hull broke Rocket Richard's 50-goal record by scoring his own 51st goal at the Chicago Stadium. Norm Jary's coverage is still re-broadcast in media commemorations of Hull's historic accomplishment.24 It is not surprising that another fond memory of his broadcasting career involves young people as local youth and seniors were important for his municipal agendas as mayor.25 Norm Jary was awarded a special citation by the Ontario Teachers' Federation for Excellence in Educational Broadcasting for a 15-minute special events program he wrote and broadcast for several years. The show was piped into many City of Guelph and Wellington County schools on Friday afternoons. The program dealt with the news of the week and included local events.


Historic Guelph V49P11

Lieutenant Governor Pauline McGibbon and Mayor Norm Jary cut a cake as part of the IODE chapter's celebration Guelph's 150th Anniversary in 1977.

(Photo courtesy of the Guelph Public Library (F57-02015)).


In the political arena, Norm Jary is credited with, "Spearheading a civic revolution," in municipal politics during his years as mayor and this feat was announced by the Guelph Mercury on November 23, 1974.26 The coverage offered the following judgment:


"Norm Jary in his own quiet way, has brought about a civic revolution in Guelph. He's opened up city council to the people, much along the lines of the old New England town meetings, which were models of democratic procedure. Few places in the Western world have council forums at which taxpayers are actively encouraged to present their beefs. Guelph does, thanks to Mayor Jary."27


Alone or in delegations, citizens were welcome to participate in the decision-making of their city council by speaking about their needs and concerns at council meetings. Mayor Jary wanted citizens to feel respected and consulted. Apparently, he succeeded. In 1991, City Council honoured the former mayor with a plaque which read, "PRESENTED TO MAYOR NORM JARY FOR OPENING THE DOOR OF CITY HALL TO THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS."28


Mayor Jary's leadership style at City Council was to act as a Chairman of the board allowing input from city staffers and the opinions of councillors to be fully expressed so all sides of an issue could be explored. Unless a tie vote needed to be broken, Jary reserved judgment himself. According to Mercury reporter Alan Ferris, Mayor Jary had, "A style that allowed debate and dissent, but only to the point that civility was maintained. He respected his councillors' opinions and encouraged compromise based on the needs of the city and not the whims of the latest fads and fashions."29 Jary was touted as one of the best mayors in Canada. The November 23, 1974 edition of the Mercury told its readers that,


"Municipal experts who study such things, rate Norm Jary among the very best of the current crop of mayors of Canadian cities. Consciously or otherwise, without being an avowed reformist, he's developed a philosophy that perfectly fits the mayoralty job in 1974."30


The philosophy of leadership adopted by Jary was strengthened by his ability to see and respect the talents of others and, "Utilize them in the best possible way".31 Mayor Jary's approach to city governance was to, "Provide the kind of environment where individuals and groups can come up with ideas, can do wonderful things for their fellow citizens, and where everyone has a chance to live up to his or her full potential. Government should lead but not get in the way of real progress."32 Mayor Jary's breaking of council tie votes against heritage designation to prevent the demolition of the Downtown Canada Trust building in 1979.33 This was in favour of the building of the Hanlon Expressway in 1979, and in 1985 in support of the Guelph Italian community's donation of the nude fountain in St. George's Square commemorating the Year of the Family, placed him in the eye of a storm of public controversy at the time, but these votes did not harm his political career long-term.


Historic Guelph V49P12Norm Jary encouraged women to become more involved in local politics. Anne Godfrey was one of several women who joined city council while Jary was mayor.

(Photo courtesy of the Guelph Public Library Archives (F4-05031)).


Norm Jary maintains that he was lucky to work with talented people like Ken Hammill the long-time chair of finance. Jary was confident that with Hammill as chair, the city's finances, "Were in good hands."34 He respected Carl Hamilton for his talent to settle neighbourhood disputes.35 He also actively encouraged women to become more involved on civic boards and commissions, to enter the political arena, and share their insights and talents to better the democratic process and the community itself. When he became an alderman, Elvie Lowel was the lone woman on council. He was pleased when Marg McKinnon, Anne Godfrey, and Clara Marett joined the male-dominated council. The former Mayor has stated that these women were, "Pioneers for women serving on City Council," and they were all, "Excellent councillors."36 Norm Jary always respected the contributions of women in civic affairs while he was active in politics and he views the election of Guelph's first female mayor, Karen Farbridge, as a, "Great day for Guelph and for inclusiveness in the democratic process in local government."37 In 1976, the Mayor's inaugural address noted that 1976 would be International Women's Year, and he urged more women to be actively involved in local politics and civic affairs.38


Historic Guelph V49P14

Norm Jary making a speech at the dedication of Heritage Park.
(Photo courtesy of the Guelph Museums (2009.32.118)).


As mayor, Norm Jary was quick to recognize the contributions of others in his inaugural addresses and when agenda items were presented. While council did not always take the direction in decision-making suggested by the professional advice of City Hall staff, the mayor felt it was important that their talent and input were publicly acknowledged.39 He extended his support to any decision made by City Council as the councillors were elected representatives with a mandate to make decisions for the benefit of the community.40 Overall, Jary wanted, "A city not so expensive that no one could afford to live in it, but not so cheap that nobody wanted to live in it."41 In retrospect he has concluded that his greatest governing strength, his impatience, had the potential also to be his greatest weakness. "I wanted to get things done. That can be a strength because you get things done, but a weakness because sometimes you can move too fast."42 He hopes to be remembered for having an administration that was open, honest, and fair. The former mayor maintains that what,


"Is really important in public life is not building roads and bridges and tall buildings, but being able to touch the lives of others in a close and meaningful and personal way."43


He was able to make the difficult decision to retire as mayor in 1985 because he knew the interests of Guelph would be protected by Alderman John Counsell, who expressed an interest in becoming mayor. While, "No one owns the mayorality," Jary was hesitant to step aside until someone with council experience, leadership ability, and public support was willing to be nominated as a mayoral candidate.44


The length of his career in civic politics also indicates that Guelphites liked his 'civic revolution,' and wanted him to remain their representative. Jary began his political career in Guelph by being defeated as a provincial Progressive Conservative candidate in two contests against Liberal MPP, Harry Worton. Jary respected Worton and feels that Worton served the community well. Norm Jary chose to enter municipal politics in the 1963 Aldermanic campaign, and came in third overall at the polls in the city-wide vote.45 In 1970, he led all other candidates for City Council at the polls before he was appointed mayor for the remainder of Mayor Ralph Smith's term.46 In January 1971, Mercury columnist Verne Mcllwraith applauded Jary's post-appointment performance as mayor. McIlwraith's "Current Comment" column read:


"[A] special tribute is paid to Mayor Norman W. Jary who was returned without opposition to the mayor's chair on the strength of his trial run for the last seven months of 1970."47


This approval for a 'job done well' set the stage for the voters to continually return Norm Jary to office until he stepped down as mayor in 1985 to run successfully as a candidate for city council in Ward Three.


Historic Guelph V49P15

Mr. & Mrs. Jary in costume for Guelph's 150th anniversary, 1977.

(Photo courtesy of Norm Jary).


The only attempt by the press to sensationalize an election race for mayor during Jary's terms of office fell flat in 1978, when a reporter at Guelph Life, Bruce Laplaunte, charged that Jary had a conflict of interest being both the mayor and a news broadcaster. Laplaunte urged the mayor to resign as the news director at CJOY.48 In an October 26th interview with Jim Fox of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Mayor Jary responded that he was merely the news reader for the coverage of Guelph municipal politics and that management at the radio station assigned an independent reporter to cover council and write related local news items for broadcast.49 The mayor reminded the public that the CRTC renewed the license for CJOY with the understanding that he did not directly cover City Hall. Earlier in the month, the Mercury challenged Laplaunte's "Get Jary" crusade by applauding Mayor Jary for his, "Honesty, fairness, approachability and impartiality."50 Two years earlier the paper endorsed Jary for re-election saying that he,


"Works long and hard as mayor. As a public speaker he has no peer in municipal government in Canada. He is a man who is very concerned for senior citizens, the youth, the environment, and moral and ethical values."51


After Jary won the 1978 election race, the Mercury concluded that neither Peter Kelly nor Jenny-Rose Ward had the name recognition or the political experience to unseat the mayor.52 The mere 27 percent election turnout was characterized as a sign of contentment rather than apathy.53 In the 1980 and 1982 elections Mayor Jary was challenged at the polls by John O'Connor, who did considerably better at the polls than the defeated 1978 mayoral contestants but O'Connor was unsuccessful, too.54


Historic Guelph V49P16

Mayor Norm Jary with Ald Mico Valeriote, Dave Feduzzi, president of the Guelph Rotary and Bruno Sanvido, president of the Italian Canadian Club. Mayor Jary was presented the Italian flag, which flew in front of the Guelph City Hall during Prima Festa.

(Photo courtesy of Guelph Public Library Archives (F45-0120077)).


Ironically, Bruce Laplaunte later became a Mercury reporter, and in 1983 he wrote a very complimentary, "Day in the Life," piece about Mayor Jary after shadowing the mayor's 5 A.M. departure from home. Laplaunte told his readers that the mayor's schedule meant preparing for 6 A.M. until noon on-air broadcasts, going to City Hall after his noon broadcast, and then finishing up broadcasting business before returning home in the late afternoon to take a power nap before meeting his responsibilities throughout the community in the evening. His part-time job as mayor was often a seven-day, 40-hour-week in addition to his radio career, and it often meant doing the City's business until late into the evening. Yet, Norm Jary felt honoured to serve the citizens of Guelph.55 Almost a decade earlier, in 1976, the Record prepared a feature article on Norm Jary, and reported that Guelph's mayoralty meant putting in long hours despite it being a part-time job that paid 14,196 dollars per annum.56 By the time Jary stepped down as mayor in 1985, it was still categorized as a part-time job and council meetings often continued until almost midnight. Mayor Jary frequently attended over a dozen official business functions and community social events per week.


The mayor always worked hard to improve the quality of life in Guelph and never forgot the note he wrote to himself when he was appointed as mayor in 1970 - "You've been appointed, Norm, not anointed."57 His approach to civic life may have been shaded by his early thoughts of entering the ministry because it was important to him that he made a difference in peoples' lives, and that people knew that he cared. In a 1980 interview with a reporter from the Mercury he recalled his early search for a career path saying, "I thought seriously about going into the ministry. It may seem strange to say that politics and religion are allied, but in both of them I would hope that the ultimate aim is to help other people."58 In particular, Norm Jary was dedicated to providing a voice for often-overlooked Guelphites such as senior citizens, youth, as well as mentally-challenged and physically-disabled persons. Over his 15 and a half years as mayor, he championed public policy related to industrial growth, commercial development, recreation projects, infrastructure modernization, improved transportation, sustainable residential growth, environmental protection, social housing, the arts community, and multi-culturalism.


The mayor and council traded on the good relationship between the City and the public and separate school boards to arrange for the use of school facilities for a variety of after-school and evening programs of benefit to the community. Mayor Jary also recognized the economic and qualitative contributions of the University of Guelph and advocated a strong working relationship between 'town and gown.'59 During his mayoralty, the City also enjoyed a positive working relationship between City and County government officials. He began his years as mayor working with the County to assess the projected impact that a regional government model would have on Guelph and area.60 In 1977, Mayor Jary succeeded in having the province defer the matter until the Wellington Guelph Study Area Committee presented its findings. Adopting the regional government model was deemed not to be in the best interests of Guelph and Wellington at the time. In 1976, the good working relationship with the County helped to establish the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit in a building owned by the City of Guelph on Delhi Street.


By Jary's 10th anniversary as mayor in 1980, the mayor and the city council facilitated many changes in the community and the Downtown Eaton's Centre mall, now the location of Old Quebec Street retail centre, was becoming a reality. The council anticipated a 23 million dollar provincial grant to offset the cost of constructing two parking arcades adjacent to the retail space planned by Chartwell Developments.61 The mayor maintained that commercial development in the City core had to be protected despite suburban malls in the west and south ends of town. Jary argued that it, "Makes no sense," to destroy the tax base in one area of town when building the assessment in another part of town.62 Industrial development remained a priority because it meant jobs and a healthy balance to the municipal tax structure. In 1976, just 65 percent of taxation came from the residential levy due to efforts to attract businesses and industry by improving local transportation access and offering a quality, safe, progressive living environment.63 In a Mercury retrospective entitled "Flashback to First Day in Office, Mayor Enters Second Decade", Guelphites were reminded that,


"Over the last decade many changes have occurred in Guelph: the new fire station was built; Stone Road Mall was constructed and later expanded; Kortright Waterfowl Park was saved and protected; the Hanlon Expressway was built; the water pollution central plant was expanded to handle the city's future growth; the Wellington Hotel was restored to its former glory; a modern arts centre is being built, the new civic museum is now open and the Downtown is on the brink of realizing a major redevelopment project."64


From his inaugural address in 1977, the mayor challenged the council to provide wise leadership and meet the needs of the community.65 Mayor Jary outlined an ambitious agenda and took an active role in the City's future. His approach echoed his 1970 election slogan that he, "Would rather be a hammer than a nail."66 Of the 21-point legislative agenda laid out in his 1973 inaugural address, only one item, Downtown public toilets, had not been implemented by City Council by the end of the election cycle in the fall of 1974.67 In January 1975, the mayor's inaugural address was informed by his election pledge,


"To build a city were each individual feels a sense of identity, belonging and pride."68 He intended to foster a, "Good moral and natural environment," "A safe, enjoyable community to raise children and a community that recognized the accomplishments of senior citizens."69


Some of the former mayor's proudest civic accomplishments, which often involved the mayor, council, staff, and citizens working together, include: the expansion of seniors' housing units from 50 to over 518 units by 1976, the building of the Victor Davis Pool, the Guelph Auto Mall, the construction of the Centennial Arena, expansion of the Exhibition Park Arena, the creation of the Victoria Road Recreation Centre, the beginning of talks for hospital expansion and re-development, his support for the creation of the Guelph Arts Council, public awareness of the need to protect the Arkell water supply, the commencement of the Guelph Lake Project, the construction of Willow West Mall, and his roles as mayor and honourary chair for the highly successful celebrations of the City's 150th anniversary in 1977.70


Over the years Mayor Jary met a lot of dignitaries and both his political and broadcast careers were acknowledged by a variety of honours and awards. For Jary, one of the most memorable persons of note was Terry Fox who came to Guelph in 1975 on his cross-county run to raise money for and increase public awareness of cancer research.71 Other notables he met included: Princess Anne; Governors General Mitchener, Sauvé, Schreyer, and Lege; Lieutenant Governors McGibbon and Aird, Prime Ministers Trudeau, Clark, and Turner; Premiers Robarts, Davis and Peterson; the Premier of China; and the Shah and Empress of Iran. His own accomplishments in public life were highlighted in 1993 when he was awarded a medal commemorating the 125th anniversary of Confederation. These medals were, "Presented to citizens for making their community and country a better place to live."72 He was the recipient of a medal commemorating Queen Elizabeth's 50th anniversary as monarch for his public service and in 1999 he was added to the University of Guelph Gryphon Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. Norm Jary's most prized recognition came in 2000 when a 25-acre West End park with a splash pad, tennis courts, ball diamonds and naturalized areas was named after him. He was a long-time member of the parks and recreation committee of council before his retirement from civic politics in 2000. This honour was only the second time that a Guelph park was named after a living and serving councillor. The Mercury was correct in its assertion that naming the park the Norm Jary Park was particularly apt due to his 15 years as a councillor for the ward in question. In Ward 3, he was a strong supporter for the Onward Willow community development project, Guelph Services for Persons with Disabilities, and the Annual Norm Jary golf tournament.73


In retirement, Norm Jary has had more time to golf and continue his hobbies of gardening and photography. Norm has supported Communities in Bloom, and Jean and Norm Jary were recognized for their gardening talents as the 1978 winners of both the J. E. Carter Memorial Bowl and a plaque for the residential gardening competition of the Guelph Horticultural society.74 The artistic merit of his photography was recognized with a show at the Barber Gallery in 1984 and at the Faculty Club of the University of Guelph in 1986.75 His talent won the inclusion of one of his photographs in the 1986 Boehmer's calendar. The 1987 and 1988 Boehmers's calendars also contained commissioned photographs by Norm Jary. His photographs have been donated to raise money for local charities.76 When interviewed for this article in 2009, Norm Jary made the following observations about retirement:


"Family is most important. I do a bit of volunteer work which is very satisfying. I also have a daughter with Multiple Sclerosis in long term complex care at St. Joseph's Health Care Centre and Jean and I spend a lot of time with her. But the Health Care Centre is a wonderful place that provides love and care and friendship. She couldn't be in a better place, and she comes first. Her identical twin sister who also had Multiple Sclerosis passed away two and a half years ago."77


Norm Jary's humility regarding, "A bit of volunteer work," belies his long-standing prolific record as a civic volunteer. His record attests to Guelph's recent national accolades as a city that cares and as a leading volunteer city. The former mayor's volunteer activities include: annual host of the Norm Jary -ARC Industries golf tournament; Honourary Chair of the Multiple Sclerosis Super Cities Walk (which raises over 100,000 dollars per year for research); local fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis research; member of the St. Joseph's Health Care Foundation; member of the Accessible Transportation Committee for Guelph; member of committees serving the Guelph Services for Persons with Disabilities; life member of Children's and Family Services; and Honourary Chair of the Guelph Wellington Cancer Society, Board of Onward Willow, and Elliott Home Capital Campaign - all organizations concerned with maximixing the quality of life for Guelphites. Norm Jary was the first parade marshal for the annual John Galt Kirking Event in 2008 and he is a member of the current volunteer John Galt Weekend Committee as well as the ongoing Master of Ceremonies for the Opening Ceremonies for John Galt Day festivities. He remains a valued member of Guelph Historical Society and he has been a guest speaker at the GHS "Evenings with History," lecture series. In support of the GHS, the former Mayor served as MC for the June 2008 Gala for the 125th Anniversary of the Ontario Historical Society at War Memorial Hall, University of Guelph. This event was co-sponsored by the GHS, the OHS, Guelph Museums and University of Guelph and it raised funds for Tsunami Relief in Indonesia.


In the July 20, 2006 edition of the Mercury, columnist Alan Ferris lamented the vitriol in local politics in light of a future election cycle. Reflecting on Norm Jary's political career and approach to civic life, he pondered that, "As we approach the months of lofty pledges and ridiculous promises, we could use more people seeking seats on council who have the vision and perspective to see the city as a whole, not a battleground for opposing political agendas."78 Like others in the former mayor's company at events, Ferris witnessed the nostalgic reverence with which the "Jary years" are often regarded.79 Jary is still well-known for his wit, intelligence and a razing public speaking ability, and these qualities are in demand for local events benefitting charities and non-profit organizations. Norm Jary is content with his retirement from politics and broadcasting to concentrate on family, charitable causes, and hobbies. Still, many share Ferris' judgment that Norm Jary was unbeatable at the polls from 1970 to 1984, "For good reason."80 For Ferris, Monday, July 16, 2006, was a banner day because he spent the morning with Norm Jary at the Cutten Club, where the former mayor was lending his name and his talents to the ARC Industries Annual Golf Tournament. Ferris later wrote, "I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Norm Jary, an exciting play-by-play broadcaster, a dedicated family man, and the finest mayor this city ever had."81 Not a bad way to be remembered.



This article is dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Jary's daughter Sandra (Jary) Priems who passed away in October 2006 due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis.




  1. A response to questions related to a June 22, 2009 interview with Mr. and Mrs. Jary at their home in Guelph. The author wishes to thank the Jarys for their time and their willingness to be interviewed and provide both verbal and written responses to her enquiries. Thanks also for the use of the Jary newspaper file to augment the newspaper records available in the Mayor's File at the Guelph Public Library and the news clippings available in the archives of the Guelph Civic Museum.
  2. Guelph Evening Mercury, Wednesday, November 6, 1976.
  3. Guelph Daily Mercury, June 5, 1970.
  4. Ibid.
  5. 2009. Personal interview.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid, 1.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Guelph Mercury, Thursday, July 20, 2006.
  19. 2009. Personal interview.
  20. Guelph Mercury, Saturday, May 1, 1994.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Guelph Mercury, May 1, 1994.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Guelph Mercury, November 16, 1976.
  26. Guelph Mercury, Saturday, November 22, 1914.
  27. Ibid.
  28. 2009. Personal interview.
  29. Guelph Mercury, June 20, 2006.
  30. Guelph Mercury, November 23, 1974.
  31. 2009. Personal interview.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Dawn Matheson and Rosemary Anderson, eds. Guelph: Perspectives on a Century of Change, 1900-2000. (Guelph, Ontario: Guelph Historical Society, 2000), p. 210-211.
  34. 2009. Personal interview.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Guelph Mercury, January 16, 1976.
  39. 2009. Personal interview.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Ibid.
  45. Ibid.
  46. Guelph Mercury, January 5, 1970.
  47. Guelph Mercury, January 4, 1971.
  48. Kitchener-Waterloo Record, October 28, 1978.
  49. Ibid.
  50. Guelph Mercury, October 14, 1978.
  51. Guelph Mercury, November 16, 1976.
  52. Guelph Mercury, November 14, 1978.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Guelph Mercury, November 8, 1982.
  55. Guelph Mercury, June 11, 1983.
  56. Guelph Mercury, November 20, 1976.
  57. Guelph Mercury, June 9, 1980.
  58. Ibid.
  59. 2009. Personal interview.
  60. Guelph Mercury, April 24, 1971.
  61. "Mayor Norm Jary at Guelph's Helm," Housing Ontario, Vol. 24, no. 1, January/February 1980, p. 3.
  62. Ibid.
  63. Guelph Mercury, January 2, 1976.
  64. Guelph Mercury, June 9, 1980.
  65. Guelph Mercury, January 4, 1971.
  66. 2009. Personal interview.
  67. Guelph Mercury, January 6, 1973.
  68. Guelph Mercury, November 4, 1974.
  69. Guelph Mercury, January 6, 1975.
  70. 2009. Personal interview.
  71. Ibid.
  72. Guelph Mercury, September 8, 2000.
  73. Ibid.
  74. Guelph Mercury, August 3, 1978.
  75. Guelph Mercury, September 6, 1986.
  76. Guelph Mercury, December 16, 1987.
  77. 2009. Personal interview.
  78. Guelph Mercury, June 20, 2006.
  79. Ibid.
  80. Ibid.
  81. Ibid.