Members of the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy invited Prince Township and area residents to the Gros Cap Marina to celebrate their revitalization efforts, while holding a special renaming ceremony of the marina’s adjacent park.
In honour of Bobbi Williamson (nee Bennett), a lifelong Gros Cap resident and Prince Township councillor, the former Gros Cap Marina Park was renamed to Bobbi Bennett Memorial Park on Saturday.
Williamson was a well-known advocate for the park during her time as a councillor before passing away in 2011.
The site sits along the Trans Canada Trail as the connector between the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and the 1000-kilometre Lake Superior Water Trail that the Conservancy oversees.
Joanie McGuffin, the executive director of Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy, says Williamson’s hard work and motivation in revitalizing the park was incredibly impactful.
“This place is very important to so many people,” she says. “Bobbi Williamson grew up here and looked after this site, and it takes that kind of community passion and dedication to make a positive impact. She’s smiling down on us today.”
The park’s new name was also chosen in respect to Williamson’s late parents Mugsy and Bud Bennett, who volunteered years of their time to ensure the dock and the rest of the site were properly looked after.
Among the ceremony’s attendees included several Indigenous elders, as well as Mitch Case from the Provisional Council of the Metis Nation, Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan, and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha.
Several members of Williamson’s family were also in attendance for the occasion.
Janet Callaghan, Williamson’s sister-in-law, is extremely grateful for today’s commemoration.
“It’s just an acknowledgement to Bobbi and everything she’s done for the community, and an extension of what she’s done for the family forever,” she says. “She has been a rock and a great support for everyone personally and in the community.”
Williamson’s cousin Penny Cress says the renaming of the park has been a long-time coming.
“She was so dedicated to Gros Cap and everybody who touched her and touched her life,” she says. “She was really special. We’re very appreciative of the people who made this possible.”
In addition to paying tribute to Williamson, the Conservancy also took the time to share their efforts in making the marina a more accessible site for visitors.
On top of installing a transfer bench on the dock, visitors can install the AccessNOW app, which enables people with disabilities to find places along the Trans Canada Trail that are truly accessible to them.
“It opens up opportunities to give people with disabilities to get on the water – that is very exciting to see,” McGuffin says.
Following the event, volunteer firefighters with the Prince Township fire department were at the marina to provide attendees with a free barbeque.