Long before Burlington’s new mayor was born, John Boich was locking horns with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a guard for the Ottawa Rough Riders.
Boich, who died in 2011, wound up in Burlington in his retirement and became a superintendent with the Halton Board of Education. He has a school named after him in the Orchard Community.
Next to her husband Peter, Marianne Meed Ward names Boich and former mayor Mary Munro as the two people who instilled in her the drive to become Burlington’s 29th mayor.
“John taught me to do my homework and know the issues,” she said. “He had a very friendly, engaging way about him. He also taught me the importance of building those relationships with people that last a lifetime.”
It was Boich, a former Citizen of the Year, who sought her out to run for the Liberals in the 2007 provincial election. Although she lost to Progressive Conservative Joyce Savoline, Meed Ward had taken her first steps into the political world.
Munro, she says, encouraged her never to back down from anything she believes in. Prior to becoming mayor in 1977, Munro was the leader of the ‘Save the Lakeshore’ group in the early 1970s. It’s exactly the same cause Meed Ward took up after she was first elected to council in 2010.
“She is tough as nails,” Meed Ward said. “And she knows her facts inside out. “During the 2010 campaign we would meet and talk strategy. She became someone I have always turned to and will again as mayor.”
Meed Ward actually lost to Rick Craven in a race for the Ward 1 seat on council in 2006, but was elected as the Ward 2 representative in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
The new mayor has dual Canadian-American citizenship.
Her father Cameron, who was born in Canada, studied at the University of Minnesota and later married her mother Marian, an American girl. Marianne was born while the family was living in Greeley, Colorado, just northeast of Denver.
However, her father decided he wanted to raise his family in Canada and moved to Toronto. The Meeds later lived in Kingston and finally in Stittsville, a small farming community outside of Ottawa.
“Kingston has a gorgeous waterfront,” she said. “Living in that city inspired my love of heritage, my interest in communities and protecting older downtown areas.”
Meed Ward attended both Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute and South Carleton high school, then enrolled at Carleton University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism.
She first worked for Faith Today magazine, becoming managing editor in 1996
Later she was employed by the Toronto Sun as a columnist providing weekly columns on affairs in the 905 area of the Greater Toronto Area
After that, she launched her own company, Meed Ward Communications Group, working out of her home. She provided writing, broadcasting and consulting to clients like the Toronto Sun, Vision TV, TVOntario, CBC radio and television, Ryerson University and Chatelaine magazine.
Meed Ward used to appear regularly as a panelist on Vision TV’s Michael Coren Show.
Her husband Peter Ward once worked for World Vision Canada, raising money to help those living in poverty around the world. He now works for a Guelph-based advertising agency.
The family moved to Burlington in 2000, first living in the Tyandaga community. But because of her love for heritage, they later moved to the core area of the city, only a few blocks from Brant Street.
Meed Ward was a founding member of Burlington Green. She first served as a citizen member of the Joseph Brant Hospital Board for three years prior to being elected. Then in her first term on council, she was named council appointee to the board. Plans for the hospital expansion were developed during her time on the board.
In 2001 she helped form a community group called Moms in the ’Hood, a sort of support group for mothers.
She is a trained opera singer who has sung in both French and German and done some musical theatre in English.
Her oldest daughter Miranda, 20, is studying environmental science at the University of Western Ontario in London. She also is the mother of twins – Alexandra and Nick, both 17. Alexandra is enrolled in kiniesiology at Western and Nick is in his final year at Burlington Central high school.
‘Boston’, an eight-year-old Wheaton Terrier, is the calming influence on Meed Ward when the stress of listening to complaint after complaint has her on edge.
“He’s always happy to see me, he lights up my world,” she said. “There’s no politics with Boston, he’s a great little snuggle pal.”