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Conlin McCabe

How many 20-somethings get their own municipal "day"? Well, when you bring home an Olympic medal, that’s what you can expect in the close-knit community of Brockville. Last summer when rower Conlin McCabe returned to his hometown after the Olympics with a silver medal win with the Men’s 8 team, he was given a well-deserved hero’s welcome by the community. August 23, 2012 was named ‘Conlin McCabe Day’, and every marquee in the community, including St. Lawrence College’s, proudly displayed a message to him.

And while Conlin may live far away in Seattle now, his heart will always be at home. “Brockville has a special place in my heart, no matter where I go or live in the world, every time I come back to Brockville it immediately feels like home,” he said. “The infrastructure might change but the consistent thing about Brockville is the people that live there. From my experiences travelling, it’s the people within a city that make it unique and exciting.”

Conlin grew up in a close family with his mother Sharon, father Michael, and two younger sisters, Mollie and Elizabeth, who are, not surprisingly, both rowers too. Sharon, also a former rower, is a graduate of St. Lawrence College from the Personal Support Worker program, and his father works at Proctor and Gamble. “Both of my parents come from large families, so there were lots of aunts and uncles and cousins around while I was growing up.”

He credits his close relationship with his family for helping him achieve his goals, as well as his phenomenal coaching at the Brockville Rowing Club. “My parents are very hard workers; my mom seems to always be working, but enjoying herself at the same time. Her attitude and kindness are tough to match. My father is extremely creative and always has unique solutions to help me clear any obstacle in the way of reaching my goals.”

Conlin rowed in many regattas during his high school years, in different seat positions depending on the crew, and was almost always in medal contention. He graduated from Brockville Collegiate Institute with a full scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. The head coach of the rowing team recognized his sheer strength, hard work, and determination.

Conlin is currently pursuing his degree in Geography from the University of Washington in Seattle. “Getting my degree will be the second greatest accomplishment of my life when I complete it. University hasn’t been easy by any means, and is still something that I am striving to achieve every day. I know having this degree will help create opportunities for me in the future.”

The future, of course, includes training for the 2016 Olympics. “It was very rewarding to visit schools in Brockville and the surrounding area and talk to the children, aside from being asked some hilarious questions, I was touched by how enthusiastic so many of the kids were. I knew immediately that I would be committed to training for another four years to see if I could bring a gold medal back to Brockville!” 

Sean Adams

On Wednesday afternoons, as a small child, Cornwall lawyer Sean Adams would accompany his father Ron to his small satellite office in Maxville, Ontario, and there he saw firsthand the difference his father, a lawyer, made in the lives of people. “He had a small office in the King George Hotel,” Sean recalls. “People would bring him gifts of fresh produce and food, and be so thankful to him.” And, in what may sound a little like a John Grisham novel, Sean knew from a very young age that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and go into law.

Sean grew up in Cornwall with his three sisters in a very close-knit family, along with a large extended family who lived nearby. There was no shortage of family get-togethers, outings, and general camaraderie in the Adams’ clan.

Sean’s mother Ann, a teacher who stayed home to raise her children, was of Slovak origin, and he grew up being very close to his maternal grandmother. So close, in fact, that Slovak was his first language. “I spent a lot of time with a grandmother who doted on me, and heard how difficult it was for immigrants when they came to Canada in the 1920s to make a better life for themselves and their families. My grandmother was very proud of her Slovak heritage which gave me a strong appreciation of my roots.”

After graduating from General Vanier High School, Sean attended Queen’s University for two years and was accepted into law school at the University of Ottawa without first completing an undergraduate degree. This was also in line with family tradition, as his father did the same. Ronald Adams was the first graduate of the University of Ottawa Law School in 1960. “It was great to be taught by some of the very same professors who taught my father.” While in law school, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Linda, and they have a son, Nikolai, who recently graduated from the University of Ottawa with an Honours Degree in History.

After law school, Sean articled for Seguin, Landriault and Lamoureux, a mid-sized law firm in downtown Ottawa, where he gained invaluable experience. He was hired by the firm after completing his bar admission course, and practiced there for four years before heeding the call to return home to join his father’s firm in Cornwall. Tragically, his father passed away one year later, at the age of 53. “We only worked together for a short time. I am grateful for the time we did have,” Sean says.

Over the years, Sean has been very focused on giving back to the community. He has been involved with organizations such as the United Way, Knights of Columbus, Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation, Rotary Club, The Children’s Treatment Centre, The
SD & G Law Association, Heart & Stroke Foundation, The Weave Shed Arts Centre, The Patrons of St. Columban’s Foundation, as well as coaching hockey, ball hockey and lacrosse. “I’ve always believed in giving back,” Sean says. “My parents raised us to be appreciative of our good fortune. They were involved in many charitable organizations, but also did things behind the scenes that nobody saw.”

Sean has seen the transition of Cornwall from an industrial town to a modern city and believes that St. Lawrence College is a key player in that change. “I had a tour of the campus recently and was impressed by the range of technologies, the teaching facilities, the theatre; it’s a beautiful campus. A true gem for the City of Cornwall.”

“It’s such an honor to receive an honorary diploma. I am very humbled.” Sean’s advice to the graduating class: “Be passionate about what you do and put all of your energy into those endeavours. Don’t be afraid to fall. Just pick yourself up and continue on your way to reaching your goals. You can make a difference, a real difference!”

Clark Day

For Kingston restaurant owner and chef Clark Day, a restaurant isn’t just a business, it’s a way to make a positive impact on someone’s life. “People eat in restaurants to celebrate and mark important times in their lives,” he said, recalling a conversation with a longtime patron of his former restaurant, Clark’s on King. As a regular guest, when she found out she had cancer, she dined for possibly her last time, and came again to celebrate her recovery. “I was very moved by her story and it made me realize that restaurants are more than just places to eat, they are part of personal memories.”

Clark Day grew up eating what he calls “really delicious food” and was exposed to fine dining at a very young age while growing up. His father was in the RCMP and the family spent his early childhood in Germany and Switzerland. “I was a picky child. I knew what I liked to eat, and the way food should taste,” he said. “I liked playing around with flavours and food and cooking with my mother.”
Clark’s many achievements are well known to Kingstonians, who have been enjoying his culinary delights for 30 years. But they may not know that Clark got into the restaurant business almost by accident. After running his own successful business at the age of 22, he decided to move to the Ottawa Valley where he had purchased property when he was 19. He started serving part time and found the business quite intriguing. He moved to Edmonton where he worked as a part-time server at one of the top restaurants in town called Jonathan’s. With no formal culinary or hospitality training, at the age of 25 Clark was promoted to general manager, and he had 80 staff members reporting to him. “I was completely immersed and learned everything: front of house, back of house, menu planning, and how to create flavours.”
With his new expertise and passion, Clark came to Kingston with his high school sweetheart and wife of 35 years, Laurie, in 1985. They opened what would be his first restaurant, The River Mill, in the run-down and virtually abandoned Woolen Mill building in the heart of the old industrial inner harbor. “Everyone thought I was crazy,” he says with a laugh. “But one of my favourite challenges is when someone says, ‘you can’t do that’, I always say, ‘wanna bet!’”
The River Mill was a success. Clark was pouring 100 hours a week into running it, and Laurie at least 55 hours a week. The one day a week they devoted to family time was Sunday. After a year, they decided to sell because it was important to spend more time with family. At that time, in 1987 they opened Clark’s by the Bay, and lived on Clark’s 1831 family homestead in Collins Bay, the 15 acre Bayview Farm. “I’ve always been a back-to-the-land kind of person,” he says. Clark’s maternal side of the family extends back to the United Empire Loyalists, and since that time, someone in his family has been doing business in the area, running a rafting company, a distillery, five mills and even the food business; his grandfather owned an ice cream factory, and according to family lore, was first person to make maple walnut ice cream. Clearly, food innovation is in Clark’s DNA.
Clark’s by the Bay became hugely successful and was the only CAA 4 diamond award winner between Ottawa and Toronto at the time. After a good run, Clark and Laurie decided to make Bayview Farm a full-time family home with their 3 children and they closed Clark’s by the Bay. “Our loyal customers took that one very hard,” Clark recalls. “It was then I realized how important and personal a restaurant can be to people.”
But before too long, Clark was back with Clark’s on King in downtown Kingston, which he ran successfully for six years. High blood pressure and a building that required complete masonry reworking prompted Clark to change direction. Clark found a new way to be in the business he loves by consulting. He was involved in the opening of Le Caveau in downtown Kingston, and then began to work with the Radisson (soon to be Delta) to create Aqua Terra by Clark.
Clark has always been very involved in local causes and charities. He founded Fare for Friends, the single largest fundraising activity by the United Way in Kingston, which has raised over a million dollars in 20 years. He also supports Martha’s Table, Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital and Almost Home, and the innovative fundraiser Dine in the Dark with Clark to raise funds for the CNIB.
Clark understands the importance of St. Lawrence College in the community. His son, Matt, is a graduate of the Hospitality Management – Hotel and Restaurant program, and runs his own successful restaurant, Days on Front. “I’m honored and humbled by the Honorary Diploma. It was out of the blue! It’s wonderful, but completely unnecessary.”
His advice for graduates on how to succeed: “Love what you do, care about what you do, and care about the people you do it with.”