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Christine Roberts is committed to her community as well as the environment
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Christine Roberts is committed to her community as well as the environment

Christine Roberts (nee Madill) was born in Delaware Township, Ontario. She grew-up in a rural environment. She is the oldest of her three children.

Her father was an OPP officer, which required her family to move every few years to new communities.

After graduating from highschool, she attended the University of Waterloo to earn a degree as a French teacher. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Waterloo, where she received a degree in French. She then went on to Althouse College at Western Ontario, where her teaching credentials were earned.

Christine met Jim while she was completing her teaching degree. She then married him in 1982. Jim was still in Montreal and the couple lived separately for their first years of marriage.

Her first teaching position was in Victoria City near Lindsay. She spent a year there and then moved to East Garafraxa School in East Garafraxa for three years.

Christine had joined the Wellington County board by 1989. She stayed there until around 2002. She accepted a position at St. Johns- Kilmarnock School where she taught French until her retirement.

The Roberts made the decision to leave Guelph during these years and settle in Fergus. Fergus is a town near all amenities, but still retains a small town feel.

Although this seems to sum up more that two decades in a few words, it was a busy time for the Roberts. It can be stressful raising three boys, Alex and Andy, while also working full-time in a demanding job that leaves little time for hobbies or other interests. The couple decided it was time for them to retire after the last of their children graduated from high school. Christine spent her last day in a classroom in June 2011 and the couple moved into their Blairs Grove cottage in Lurgan Beach in March 2012.

Jim and Christine had enjoyed the cottage for many years before making it their permanent residence. Christine jokes that they moved from small Scottish towns on big rivers to smaller Scottish towns on big lakes.

Christine describes their Blairs Grove cottage in Blairs Grove as a rural neighborhood that offers the best of both urban living and rural living. The cottage’s size and footprint allowed the Roberts to renovate and expand, making it a summer home. They spent the first two years of their relationship getting to know their new community and finishing the work needed to improve the property.

Christine began to paint again as they settled in. She had previously enjoyed painting for years, having attended Chatsworth painting workshops led by Peter Reid. She said that she painted like a mad person for the first few months during the pandemic.

Christine joined community groups, volunteer work, and activities to get fit and meet new women. Her instructor asked her if she would like to lead the class after she signed up for VON Smartfit classes at Ripley’s community centre. She has just completed her training and is now starting her eighth year as an instructor.

Christine is helping to ease the burden for many groups.

In 2015, she joined both the Ripley Horticultural society and the Retired Women Teachers of Ontario South Bruce. Since 2017, she has been serving as secretary for both organizations. In 2017, she decided it was time for her to get involved and volunteer. She is also a member the Purple Grove Womens Institute, and volunteers at Bruce Botanical Food Garden in the summer.

Ripley is a community that I am a part of and the wonderful people I have met through these groups have been welcoming, inclusive, and warm.

The Roberts have been active members of Huron Field Naturalists for many years, serving on the board and in executive roles. Christine and her husband volunteer for other environmental groups in the area, such as the Pine River Watershed Initiative Network or the Lake Huron Coastal Centre. Their contribution is described as being worker bees, helping to plant trees and clean up the beaches.

Christine said that Jim and I are willing to donate our time and effort to local environmental projects and groups because we are concerned about climate change, biodiversity, and the environment. We committed to eradicate and reduce nonnative plant species from our property by 2021 and have replaced them with more than 150 seedlings of native shrubs, trees, and flowers. We do everything we can to encourage and promote action that benefits the environment.

Christine says that even though their lives are full with volunteer commitments, Christine does not hesitate to give her time and expertise to the community. I’ve had a great life and been very fortunate with my family, my health, and my personal finances. It’s my way to give back. She is determined to take her turn and hopes that the next generation will do their part.

Jim and Sheri love their home at the lake and are looking forward to the future. Once restrictions are lifted, they will be able to travel freely again.

In the meantime, there are grandchildren and children to enjoy (the newest Roberts child joined the family in this month’s August) and Christine hopes that she will one day be able to get back into painting.

Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent

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