Having lived in Wellesley Township nearly all his life and worked for the township for 33 years, Frank Friedmann is a fitting recipient for the township’s senior of the year honours, say organizers of the award.
Friedmann was mayor of Wellesley for nine years in the 1990s, but before that he spent 21 years as roads superintendent and served a term as councillor.
He was born in Linwood and has lived there all his life except for a few years spent out west. His father, Simon, was a councillor and deputy reeve in the 1940s, and Friedmann developed an interest in municipal politics and how the township was run.
“I suppose it was following in the footsteps of my dad – sometimes it runs in the blood,” he chuckled.
In the 1950s, he had a hankering to go out west, where he got a job with surveyors working on the Trans Canada Highway in the Banff area.
That job launched another lifelong interest in infrastructure and municipal works. After serving a term as councillor in the late 1960s, Friedmann got a job with the township’s roads department.
He later decided to run for mayor in 1991 after he was fired from the roads superintendent position over personality conflicts with the mayor of the day. Friedmann won that election and was re-elected for two more terms, until he stepped down in 2000.
During his time as mayor, Friedmann presided over the expansion of the sewer system in Wellesley Village and the installation of new water systems in Wellesley and St. Clements. He also served through the Harris years, when the provincial government was cutting back on spending and downloading services to the municipal governments.
“It was a pretty hectic squeeze on for money. … It’s a little different today; they’re throwing money around pretty free and easy today,” he observed.
Friedmann still maintains an interest in both municipal politics and infrastructure, and he was glad to hear recent announcements of federal and provincial funding for roads and bridges.
“There’s a tendency to hold back on the large expenditure items because of money, of course, so I think it’s a good thing the senior levels of government are coming up with the money to catch up on the backlog of these things that has built up over the years.”
Friedmann is still an active volunteer with the Linwood Lions Club, where he has run the annual hockey pool for the last 15 years.
He’s also on the board of directors for the Waterloo Wellington Community Futures Development Corporation, which offers assistance to rural businesses. Friedmann was invited to help with the organization when it was still in its infancy, and he said it’s been interesting to watch it grow.
“To get in at the start and see it develop was really rewarding, and it’s going well today.”