Freedom of the City award

The Freedom of the City is the highest honour that Port Moody can give to an individual or distinguished unit of the armed forces of Canada or another nation. It is awarded to acknowledge contributions to the community or to those who have brought recognition to the City through their achievements.

Submit a nomination

If you would like to nominate someone for Freedom of the City, please send Council an email and explain why you believe this individual should receive the award. Nominations for Freedom of the City Award are accepted all year. 

Past recipients

Review the past recipients of the Port Moody Freedom of the City award.

Robert Simons - 2024

Robert SimonsPort Moody City Council presented Robert Simons with the prestigious Freedom of the City award at a Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. 

“Robert Simons’ contributions to, and impact on, Port Moody cannot be overstated – he is a true inspiration to many and an asset to our community,” said Mayor Meghan Lahti. “He is a hardworking and dedicated community advocate who gives his time and expertise so generously, reminding us of the power of volunteering and how big a difference one person can make. From arts, culture, and heritage to economic development, tourism, and police services, Robert has touched so many aspects of community life and changed things for the better. On behalf of Council and the residents of Port Moody, I offer heartfelt thanks and congratulations to a most deserving recipient of the Freedom of the City honour.” 

Simons, originally from Kimberley, B.C., attended the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Burnaby and completed diplomas in marketing and finance. In 1973, he began working at BC Telephone (BC Tel, later Telus), taking on roles in sales, product management, and business development. Over his 43-year career at BC Tel/Telus, Simons held senior positions in corporate finance and was entrusted with special assignments in systems development, engineering, and network planning. 

It was during his time at BCIT and BC Tel/Telus that Simons became involved with a variety of community, academic, and non-profit organizations, in many cases taking on leadership roles such as:

  • past board member, Variety Club of BC (now Variety – the Children’s Charity of BC);
  • past president and vice-president, Epilepsy BC (now BC Epilepsy Society);
  • past president, Vancouver Neurological Centre (dissolved);
  • past president and vice-president, BCIT Alumni Association; and
  • past board member, BCIT Board of Governors. 

Simons and his wife Valerie moved to Port Moody in 1980. In the years since, he has made significant contributions to our community. Highlights include:

  • serving multi-year terms on the City’s Community Care Committee, Heritage Commission, and Economic Development and Tourism Committee;
  • serving as president of the Port Moody Heritage Society (POMO Museum);
  • serving as a provincial appointee to the Port Moody Police Board from 2009 to 2015;
  • working to secure federal funding for celebrations related to Port Moody’s 100th anniversary in 2013; and
  • supporting Port Moody’s Canada 150 Mosaic Mural project in 2017; and 

Additionally, Simons is known for his advocacy work in promoting the revitalization of local heritage sites such as the Ioco Townsite and Ioco School as well as the character and vibrancy of Port Moody’s original Moody Centre neighbourhood. 

Simons is actively engaged with key arts, culture, and heritage organizations in Port Moody. He is the current president and board chair for both the Port Moody Arts Centre and the Port Moody Foundation. He is also the president and board chair of the Yarilo Contemporary Music Society, a member of the Community Board of Directors for Sasamat Outdoor Centre, and the Sasamat Outdoor Centre representative with the Board or Directors for the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC. 

The Freedom of the City award, the highest honour that Port Moody can give, acknowledges and celebrates an individual’s or group’s significant contributions to civic life in Port Moody or their role in enhancing Port Moody’s reputation nationally or internationally. Recipients form an elite list of VIPs welcomed at all City functions and special events as guests of honour

Gerry Nuttall – 2018

Gerry NuttallMayor Mike Clay presented Gerry Nuttall with the Freedom of the City honour on June 16, 2018, for his long-time service to the community.

In 1976, Gerry and his wife Barbara moved to Port Moody, where they built their house on April Road and raised three children. Gerry opened a small printing business, putting community and family before profit, and became a devoted volunteer in the community. In his printing business, he would often donate design and printing services to local non-profit organizations, even assisting his political competition with their campaign materials. He was the “go to” printer for most Port Moody businesses and was greatly missed when he sold his business. Still residing in the same house in 2018, Gerry is now a proud grandparent of six grandchildren.

During his more than 40 years in Port Moody, Gerry has been a hardworking, exemplary citizen and an asset to the City. He is described by many as a mentor, a community leader, a tireless volunteer, and someone who is dedicated to ensuring we have the best community possible.

Gerry served on Port Moody Council for three terms. During this time, he served as chair of the Finance Committee, Arts and Culture Committee, Economic Development Committee, Parks and Recreation Committee, and Community Care Committee, and as a member of the Arts Centre Expansion Project.

Gerry has also volunteered numerous hours in our community as a softball coach, member of the Port Moody Parks and Recreation Commission, chair of the Residents for a Better Port Moody, president of the Golden Spike Days Society, chair of the Burrard Thermal Liaison Committee, member of the Port Moody Police Board, treasurer for the BC Association of Police Boards, and co-chair for the Evergreen Line Art Committee.

Gerry's latest endeavour has been the formation of the Port Moody Seniors Friendship Society. In 2015, Gerry worked with Ann Kitching (Freedom of the City recipient who passed away in December 2016) to address loneliness among seniors in Port Moody. Along with Fred Soofi and Wayne Borthwick, they formed a non-profit society called the Port Moody Seniors Friendship Society. In October 2016, with support from the City of Port Moody and Metro Vancouver, the Society opened a gathering space and café called The Club at 101 Noons Creek Drive. The Club is a place where seniors can come and drop in to socialize, as well as take part in activities such as bridge, knitting, book club, cribbage, movie nights, trivia nights, bus trips to multiple locations, concerts, barbecues, and Friday night socials.

Ann Kitching – 2013

Ann KitchingIn honour of her service to the community, Ann Kitching was granted Freedom of the City on December 2, 2013. Ann was also honoured twice in 2016, with a bursary in her name, to help young artists attend summer art camps, and with the re-naming of the 3D Gallery at the Port Moody Arts Centre. The new name for the 3D Gallery – the Ann Kitching Gallery – was chosen by Arts Centre donor Townline in recognition of Ann's lifelong work in the arts and education.

Penelope “Ann” Kitching was born December 15, 1931. She moved to Port Moody from Montreal in 1978 and, until her retirement in 1997, was a senior college administrator. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Math from Concordia University, and a Master of Arts from McGill University. She worked for Douglas and Kwantlen Colleges, and helped set up the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates. Following her return to Port Moody, she became joint owner and principal of Fraser Pacific College in Richmond. In 2002, Ann was appointed to the Board of Douglas College, where she served as vice chair until 2010.

During her retirement, Ann pursued her dream of becoming a fibre artist, and continued to contribute to the community in immeasurable ways. She served as president of the Port Moody Arts Centre Society and chair of the Wearable Art Awards Committee, and played a vital role as a member of the Arts and Culture Task Force and the City's Centennial Committee.

Ann passed away at Inlet Centre Hospice on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. She was a driving force for the advancement of the arts in Port Moody, and will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Port Moody residents, and the City as a whole, benefited from her energy, talent, and commitment to the community.

“Ann personified community spirit, and always contributed fully and passionately to everything she did,” said Mayor Mike Clay. “Her enthusiasm was infectious, and she knew how to get things done – and demanded the same of others. A tireless worker and advocate for the arts, you couldn't ever leave a conversation with Ann without feeling inspired and wanting to do more, but rarely could you ever keep up.

“If our goal is to leave the world a better place, Ann has certainly done that, and taught the rest of us what can be accomplished when you have the drive and determination, and never take no for an answer. I'm frankly not even sure what Port Moody will be like without Ann here, but I know her legacy will live on in all that she has created for our success. The saying is ‘Dance like nobody's watching, love like you'll never be hurt,' and we should add, ‘and get it done like Ann would get it done!'”

Ann lived on April Road in Port Moody for 40 years, in a house known as “Chimney House,” due to the long, vertical pipe that comes up from the living room fireplace. She is survived by her daughter Rosemary, and granddaughter Anna.

Dr. Mary Anne Cooper – 2011

Dr. Mary Anne Cooper

With great sadness, Port Moody Mayor and Council announce the death of Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, long-serving community leader and recipient of Port Moody’s highest honour, the Freedom of the City award.  Dr. Cooper recently celebrated her 107th birthday on October 30, 2021. 

“Dr. Cooper will be greatly missed by all who knew her,” said Mayor Rob Vagramov. “Her dedication to heritage conservation cannot be understated and her passionate advocacy for the protection of Port Moody’s key historical landmarks has benefitted our residents and community as a whole.” 

Dr. Cooper was the driving force behind the achievement of heritage conservation area status for the Ioco Townsite, which stands as one of few surviving early company towns in the Lower Mainland and is recognized as a heritage conservation area – a distinct area with special heritage value identified for conservation in the City’s Official Community Plan. Dr. Cooper was also integral in establishing Ioco Ghost Town Days, an annual event that celebrates the history of the Ioco Townsite and promotes the importance of heritage conservation in Port Moody. She served as a member of the City’s Heritage Commission for seven years and has also served on the board for the Port Moody Heritage Society. 

Dr. Cooper was honoured with numerous awards including:

  • City of Port Moody Freedom of the City Award in 2011 for her years of service to the community in the areas of heritage celebration and conservation as well as environmental protection;
  • City of Port Moody Heritage Award in 2011 (co-recipient with the Port Moody Heritage Society) for her work organizing Ioco Ghost Town Day celebrations;
  • Heritage BC Ruby Nobbs Award in 2011 for heritage advocacy; and
  • BC Achievement Foundation Community Award in 2020 for her efforts to raise awareness of the need to preserve and celebrate Port Moody’s heritage, protect its green spaces, and reduce the challenges faced by older adults. 

The City is grateful to Dr. Cooper for her meaningful and long-lasting contributions to our community and offers the deepest condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time; the flags at Port Moody City Hall and the Inlet Centre Firehall will be at half-mast in her honour. 

“The Spirit of Port Moody”, a documentary film by Producer/Director Eva Wunderman, features Dr. Cooper and will be screened at the Inlet Theatre in Port Moody on Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 1pm and 3pm.  For more information and tickets go to 'The Spirit of Port Moody' Documentary Film Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite. This documentary screening is made possible by The Residents of Pleasantside and IOCO Community Association in recognition of their neighbour Dr. Mary Anne Cooper. 

Ron Curties – 2011

Ron CurtiesRon Curties' dedication to his community is remarkable. Dating back to 1991, Ron was on at least 26 City-appointed committees. His enthusiasm, dedication, considerable expertise and guidance set him apart.

Ron was a lifetime member, past president and political debate emcee with the Pleasantside Community Association. He organized, promoted and emceed the Annual Rocky Point Penguin Plunge, a signature event for the Pleasantside Community Association.

With a knack for sports, Ron was a founding member of the Old Orchard Hall Badminton Club, the Port Moody Curling Club and the Ioco Heritage Lawn Bowling Society.

He spent countless hours volunteering for Ioco Ghost Town Days, Golden Spike Days, the Terry Fox Run, the Port Moody Library Links to Literacy Annual Golf Tournament and the Port Moody Foundation. He was also responsible for “bringing Santa to Port Moody by boat” as part of the Port Moody Power and Sail Squadron Carol Ships.

In 2012, Ron received the Community Volunteerism Award at the Spirit of Community Awards sponsored by the Society for Community Development. Ron continued to be a vibrant and involved community volunteer until he passed away on November 13, 2012.

Dr. Elaine Golds – 2007

Dr. Elaine GoldsDr. Elaine Golds has been recognized for her significant involvement in environmental related causes, societies and committees.

Dr. Golds can be credited in part for the installation of better air pollution control equipment at BC Hydro's Burrard Thermal Generating Station in Port Moody in the 1990s. More recently she advocated for the continued operation of the hydro generating plant in light of the province's desire to close it in favour of coal-generated power, a significant contributor of greenhouse gases.

Dr. Golds spearheaded the creation of a wetland in Port Moody's Shoreline Park and personally rescued and moved endangered red-legged frogs to the site from a nearby wetland that was threatened by a road expansion.

Dr. Golds has resided in Port Moody since 1989 and has dedicated herself on a full-time, unpaid basis to preserving and enhancing our natural environment through her work with numerous societies, committees, and causes.

Through her community work, Dr. Golds has led nature walks for school children, assisted in creating wetlands in Shoreline Park, produced wildlife inventories for the city, and contributed to interpretive signage in Shoreline Park. As president of the Port Moody Ecological Society, she initiated a major school visit program at the Noon's Creek Hatchery that continues today.

Elaine Golds was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelors degree. She obtained her doctorate degree in biochemistry from McGill University (1978) and studied the structure of the myelin sheath (nervous system) in research for the understanding of diseases, working on multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Port Moody Legion Branch 119 – 2005

Port Moody LegionOn Sunday, October 16, 2005 the City of Port Moody honoured Port Moody Legion Branch #119 with Freedom of the City in recognition of the Legion's long and distinguished presence within the City and their many contributions.

Today, the honour enables the Legion to march within City limits on special occasions. Additionally, upon request of Mayor Joe Trasolini to extend year-round free parking to all Veterans at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody, Fraser Health Authority has granted free parking to veterans during Veterans' Week in November. To commemorate the occasion, the Legion has also been presented with an engraved paving stone which is installed at Queen Street Plaza.

Art Wilkinson – 2003

Art WilkinsonArt Wilkinson, a resident of Glenayre, Port Moody for over 40 years, was married to Margaret and the father of two grown children. He was a retired bank manager and past President and member of the Hyack Festival in New Westminster.

Art served his community tirelessly for 18 years (1984 to 2002) as Councillor and as an active committee member and volunteer. He came to public service as someone who cared about his community and had a profound sense of stewardship about the financial resources of the City. Neither of those things changed in all his years of service.

He and Margaret were Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus around the City for many years. During the early years of Golden Spike Days, he and Margaret always donned period costumes to add authenticity to the events.

Art was the Chair of the City's Finance Committee for 15 of his 18 years on Council. He was involved with the development of the north shore Heritage Mountain neighbourhoods and Newport Village and was part of the vision for the Ipsco lands project, now called Klahanie. When financial issues were discussed during Council meetings, Art always asked, "Where is the money coming from?" When he left Council the City's reserves were $31 M and the per capita debt was - and remains to be - one of the lowest in the Lower Mainland. When local oil refineries began to downgrade their operations, Art's input and foresight was instrumental in the City's establishment of a growth stabilization reserve. His banking expertise provided immeasurable value and assistance to the Finance department in developing sound financing and investing policies and decisions.

After retiring from Council, Art was involved in the Parks and Recreation Commission and continued to oversee the financial aspects of the proposed recreation centre expansion project. Art Wilkinson passed away March 19, 2005. He was an original member of the Glenayre Community Association and in 2005, Glencoe Park was renamed Art Wilkinson Park, in his memory.

Ann C. Hulbert – 2003

Ann C. HulbertAnn Hulbert, a long-time resident of Port Moody has one son and two grandchildren. She has been committed to serving her community for over 30 years, 23 as a Councillor and active member in various local and international committees and organizations.

During her years of service as Councillor, she was passionate about the environment and extensively involved with the Mossom Creek Hatchery and Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society. Ann is a committed environmental crusader. Whether the topic is air, water or land, she is always aware of the three spheres in the environment.

David Driscoll, former Mayor, remarked, "From community to community service to community. It is a marvellous unbroken string of commitments. Ann worked tirelessly on Council assignments and saw the Council Chambers as a place where neighbours could solve problems together."

Ann and her late husband, Peter, were very committed to assisting the community of Kariba in Zimbabwe. They visited Kariba and organized many shipments of containers filled with donated hospital and school supplies, as well as textbooks for new school libraries.

Now retired from Council, Ann keeps busy as International Director of the Port Moody Rotary, is president of Oiled Wildlife Society of BC, is on numerous City committees and acts as a guide for school tours of City facilities. She continues with her passion for photography and hosts ‘sold out' slide-shows of her talented work.

David Driscoll – 1999

David DriscollFreedom of the City was bestowed on David Driscoll on May 29, 1999 by Mayor Rick Marusyk and Council. In celebration of the honour the City purchased a part of the Trans Canada Trail in Rocky Point Park, a place dear to David.

David began his time on Council in 1973 as an Alderman. For work and family reasons David left Council between 1979 and 1983. In 1983, he returned as Mayor and served four terms, leaving in 1993 to become Executive Director of the VanCity Community Foundation. During his time as Mayor, David served as President of the Lower Mainland Municipal Association, Vice Chair of the GVRD, Trustee of the Municipal Finance Authority as well as serving on numerous Federal, Provincial, and Municipal organizations and task forces.

David was and is a member and Board member of a number of community organizations. He was awarded an honorary life membership in the Community Living movement. He is a Simon Fraser University Silver Anniversary Distinguished Alumni, and a Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee medallist.

During the 1990s, David chaired the BC Assessment Authority for six years. He was nominated by the community and appointed by the Provincial Government to chair the creation of a new Crown Agency (Community Living BC).

David retired from VanCity in 2006 and pursued some international work in China and Russia as well as re-engaging his work and support of local community based organizations.

Al and Nellie Sholund – 1998

Al and Nellie SholundThe Sholunds are the first couple to be honoured by Port Moody with Freedom of the City. Mayor Marusyk presented them with their distinguished awards on June 13, 1998. The couple met during the Second World War in Nellie's home country of England while Al was stationed there. Al passed away in 2006, just days before his 97th birthday. He is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Nellie, and their two daughters Christine and Pauline.

Al, a former employee of the Imperial Oil refinery at Ioco, served on the library board for many years starting in 1956, while Nellie volunteered to work the library's front desk. The couple is widely credited with building the City's Public Library, Library Board, the city's museum, and the Historical Society. Nellie was chair of the advisory board at the Kyle Centre for eight years. They have donated countless hours over many, many years to the restoration of the museum, its artifacts and objects, and the education of both children and adults on the rich and colourful history of this area.

The Chamber of Commerce named Al Sholund Tri-Cities Citizen of the Year in 1985. As long-time residents of the City, the Sholunds have given their time and expertise extensively to the community.

Al Sholund has contributed years of insightful historical articles to the City's quarterly newsletter, the Focus. As Mayor Marusyk stated "Al and Nellie Sholund are shining examples of community volunteerism."

Judith D. Forst – 1992

Judith D. ForstJudith Forst received the honour of Freedom of the City by Mayor Driscoll on November 27, 1992. As an internationally acclaimed coloratura mezzo soprano who has sung to great critical acclaim in every major opera house in North America and Europe, she was bestowed this honour as a distinguished citizen of Port Moody.

Judith was born and raised in New Westminster and spent her early childhood years in Coquitlam. She took up residence in Port Moody in 1975 with her husband Dr. G. Forst. She attended the University of British Columbia, and received a Bachelor of Music in 1964. In 1968, she won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, received a scholarship and, at the same time, the Met offered Judith a contract. This was the first time that this was offered by this company. In 1992, Judith was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of British Columbia.

Mayor Driscoll stated at the time he gave Judith her award "our city is proud to be the home of Judith Forst. She has long been one of Port Moody's proudest assets."

Judith has made a considerable contribution to the arts at the local, national, and international level, and has at all times been an outstanding ambassador for the City of Port Moody.

Norman Wild – 1985

Norman WildThe honour of Freedom of the City was bestowed on Norm on September 3, 1985 by Mayor Driscoll. He was recognized for his eighteen consecutive years as Alderman of the City of Port Moody. During that time. Norm was actively involved with his community, in particular, being a founding member of the Port Moody Soccer Club. He was passionate about minor athletics and the arts. He was also instrumental in the development of the Port Moody Pipe Band, which went on to become the world renowned Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.

He came to Canada with his wife, Stella, in 1956 and moved to Port Moody in 1959 where he established his own insurance brokerage. He was involved in the insurance business for 50 years. Mr. Wild passed away on February 24, 2003.

Andrew Peller – 1982

Andrew PellerAs the founder of Andrés Wines Ltd., Mr. Peller was Port Moody's first industry representative to be presented with Freedom of the City on September 10, 1982 by Mayor Petrie.

When he arrived in Canada in 1927 from a small village on the Danube in southern Hungary, he was in search of a new home and a new promise for his young family.

At 57, an age when most people would be content to reflect on their past achievements, he pursued his goal and established Andrés Wines Ltd. in Port Moody in 1961.

Andrew Peller was described as a man who "had a vision and that vision became reality through his energy, enthusiasm and dedication to the well-being of his fellow man."

Mr. Peller promoted the City's identity and contributed in a major way to its economy. He passed away in 1994.

William M. Johnstone – 1982

William M. JohnstoneWilliam "Bill" Johnstone was bestowed the honour of Freedom of the City by Mayor Petrie on September 10, 1982. He served as School Trustee for 19 years, and with boundless energy beyond measure, to the cultural, recreational and developmental growth of the City of Port Moody.

Bill came to Canada in 1928 and with his wife, Julie, had four children. He was a Legion member, worked at Flavelle Cedar for 36 years, and was a Cub leader for 10 years. He passed away on December 18, 1998.

Herbert “Bert” C. Flinn – 1980

Bert FlinnBert Flinn was the second individual to be presented the honour of Freedom of the City on March 31, 1980 by Mayor Young. Mr. Flinn was a resident of Port Moody for 61 years. He married Minnie in 1922, came to Canada and built their home on St. Johns Street. Bert Flinn was employed by Weldwood of Canada, Flavelle Cedar division in Port Moody for 37 years.

He served as an Alderman for 18 years and worked to establish and develop the Port Moody Public Library.

During his early years on council Bert took a very active role in lobbying for public transit in the area. It is also to his credit that much of the city's history has been recorded, both written and by way of tape recordings. Many documents and artifacts relating to the City of Port Moody have been retained for future generations to enjoy. In 1977 he was named Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. In 1978, Bert was presented with the Queen's Silver Jubilee medal for service to the community.

Bert Flinn passed away in 1985 at the age of 94. Flinn Court in Moody Centre and Bert Flinn Park on the city's north shore are named in his honour.

Leonard A. Elsdon – 1971

Len ElsdonLen Elsdon was given the first Freedom of the City award presented by the City of Port Moody on January 4, 1971 by Mayor Howe.

Len served on Council as Alderman for 25 years, and contributed beyond measure to the cultural and community growth of Port Moody. Born and raised in British Columbia, Len was married to Ethel and had two sons. He worked for Imperial Oil at Ioco for 41 years.

In 1939 he was involved with the establishment of the first Public Library, which was located in the basement of the former city hall. After a short while, it moved over to the present day Arts Centre on Kyle Street. He and Ethel volunteered for many years at the library and later he served on the Library Board as Chairman. He had a passion for the library and served his community energetically through it.

Len Elsdon passed away in 1992. Elsdon Bay on Port Moody's north shore is named in his honour.