Memories, movies and mentors


Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award Winner Rhonda Barnet, pictured here with her family, wants to encourage young women to pursue a career in manufacturing. (Photo: Eva Fisher /

Watching Dirty Dancing this morning, the original –some movies like Dirty Dancing and Sabrina are so perfectly cast that they should never be remade — and seeing that it is Star Wars 40th anniversary as well, made me think of the Junior Achievement Peterborough, Lakeland and Muskoka Business Hall of Fame event that I attended on Thursday night. It took place in The Venue, a new event space that used to be the movie theatre of my childhood. I was recalling this to one of the hundreds of guests at the sold-out event. Standing with my baby brother, I started telling the story of how my deaf grandmother took me and my cousin to see A Hard Day’s Night in what used to be the theatre and it dawned on my brother and me that the woman I was talking to clearly didn’t have the faintest clue about this iconic Beatles movie.

A generational memory I guess.

More memories were brought back on Thursday as my Dad was one of the eight local business luminaries who were honoured with the JA’s Business Hall of Fame award. Four of the honorees were there in person and four were honoured posthumously, like my Dad. Each honoree either spoke or had a relative speak for them after receiving the award. One of my favourites was  89-year-old John Bowes (founder of Bowes & Cocks Real Estate)  had a message for the region’s young entrepreneurs: “To the Junior Achievers — keep at it, and someday you may be a senior entrepreneur, and nobody has more fun than us.”

I also spoke on behalf of my Dad, who as a prominent local businessman, employed many young people including teenage hockey players playing for the Peterborough Petes. These boys were often far away from home and in need of an anchor. My Dad offered his young employees (whose numbers also included many of my teenage friends) more than employment and a paycheck, he often gave them advice and demonstrated a strong work ethic and healthy small town values. As a business mentor, he is remembered fondly by a number of now very successful business people.

Dignitaries in attendance at the JA Business Hall of Fame event included: M.P. Peterborough-Kawartha and Minister of the Status of Women Maryam Monsef; M.P.P. Peterborough and the Minister Responsible for Small Business and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal; Peterborough Mayor Darryl Bennett; and Selwyn Mayor Mary Smith.

Which brings me back to Muskoka: everywhere I go I see signs looking for summer help. There are many employment opportunities for young people this summer from restaurants to golf courses to gas stations. My message for local employers: don’t just employ young people this summer in Muskoka, use the skills that you have acquired to continue to strengthen local businesses and the economy for many generations. That is true Junior Achievement!


Photo: Eva Fisher /




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