2019 Hall of Fame Inductees

The Waterloo Region Hall of Fame honours individuals and organizations for their significant contributions to the community. Below are the 2019 Inductees that were nominated then accepted into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

Ruth Abernethy
photo of Ruth Abernethy

Born in Lindsay, Ontario, Ruth Abernethy began a creative profession from high school. First working as Assistant Carpenter at the Kawartha Summer Theatre in Lindsay, she later attended Malaspina College in Nanaimo, B.C.

Ruth turned 21 as the Head of Props at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and created props in theatres across Canada for 20 years. She was Head of Props at Shaw Festival, built special items for the National Ballet of Canada, and spent 15 seasons with the Stratford Festival Theatre.

In 1996, Ruth exhibited her first sculpture collection in Waterloo. Her first work in bronze was Raising the Tent (1997). This complex design, located on the grounds of the Stratford Festival Theatre, depicts the raising of the poles of the original performance tent.

Over the last 22 years, Ruth has completed dozens of commissioned works, primarily in bronze and, occasionally, in stainless steel. These works are found in public spaces and private collections in Waterloo Region, across Canada, and beyond.

In 2018, Ruth was awarded an Honorary Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Ruth’s installations assume a place in the landscape and engender a sense of pride among members of the community. They spark curiosity. They seek to inspire, entertain, educate, and inform. They invite viewer interaction and participation, and they always tell a story. Ruth’s work will be her legacy.

Steve Bienkowski 

Photo of John Harper

Synonymous with professionalism on and off the ice, Steve Bienkowski has been essential to the Kitchener Rangers’ success for nearly 40 years.

Originally from Oshawa, Steve first joined the Rangers in 1979 as a player. He was a team member when the Rangers’ won their first Ontario Hockey League (OHL) championship in 1980-1981.

After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University, Steve became a chartered accountant in 1986 and had a successful business career prior to returning to the Rangers in the 1990s.

He served for six years on the Rangers’ Board of Directors Executive Committee. After significantly improving the professional operation and financial stability of the Rangers, Steve was appointed the Club’s first Chief Operating Officer in 2002. He is responsible for the operations of the franchise and represents the Rangers as an OHL Governor.

In addition, under Steve’s leadership the Rangers have created partnerships with Kitchener Minor Hockey (Junior and Lady Rangers programs), Cambridge Ice Hounds and Kitchener Ice Pirates (inclusive hockey programs), KW Poppy Fund, Grand River Hospital Foundation (Clarky’s Kids), and numerous other not-for-profit organizations.

For all of his contributions, Steve has twice received the OHL’s Executive of the Year award, in 2002-2003 and 2011-2012.

His lead role in assembling a bid for and hosting a Memorial Cup in 2008 is widely recognized as one of the most successful and memorable events in Waterloo Region sporting history.

Martin Buhr
photo of Martin Buhr

Martin Buhr was born in Altona, Manitoba in 1939 but moved to Waterloo to attend university, earning a Master of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1984.

From 1978 to 1998, Martin served as Executive Director for Kitchener’s House of Friendship. During his tenure with the men’s shelter, the House of Friendship evolved into a charitable social service agency, providing food, housing, addiction treatment, and community resources to thousands across Waterloo Region.

Martin co-founded The Food Bank of Waterloo Region in 1984, which serves as the primary procurer of food supplies from corporate and individual donors. He also helped establish St. John’s Kitchen (under the governance of The Working Centre), which provides daily meals using supplies from the Food Bank.

After retiring, Martin co-founded MennoHomes Inc. in 2001, a non-profit charitable organization that provides affordable housing in Waterloo Region. As president until 2013, Martin helped build over 105 affordable housing units for seniors, singles, and families.  

Being lead cyclist in the House of Friendship’s annual Trek4Kids campaign and in the MennoHomes annual Bike-a-thon, Martin has raised around $500,000 for the two non-profit agencies by obtaining pledges for his bike rides.

Currently living in a condo, where all the organic waste was going into landfill, Martin led a committee to investigate the issue. The organic waste is now being recycled and the pilot program has generated interest from other multi-residential buildings.

Martha (Marty) Deacon

Photo of Martha Deacon

Coach and educator, Marty Deacon has had an extensive career locally, nationally, and internationally. She was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 2018 and is the first Senator to be appointed and serve in Waterloo Region since 1941.

Marty worked for the Waterloo Region District School Board as a teacher, consultant, administrator, and principal for 34 years, while also coaching and being an advocate for physical activity and amateur sports.

Beginning her badminton coaching career at Kitchener’s Granite Club, Marty started coaching high calibre athletes at the Ontario Games and the Canada Games in 1991. Marty was an apprentice coach at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. She went on to coach and lead teams at six different Olympic, Commonwealth, and Pan Am Games. In 2010, she served as Chef de Mission, leading Team Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

Currently, Marty serves as a Director on the Canadian Olympic Committee and on the Commonwealth Games Canada Board. Through her leadership, Marty has continued to showcase Waterloo Region and has involved local athletes and coaches where possible.

Marty’s achievements have been recognized by numerous awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Jule Nisse Award (Playground to Podium), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Education Award, the IOC Women in Sport Award, and the Most Influential Women in Sport Award.

As Senator, Marty is an advocate for education, health and well-being for all Canadians.

Mary Ann Gaskin 

Photo of Mary Ann Gaskin

A lifelong resident of Cambridge, Mary Ann Gaskin began playing tennis at age 10. At age 14, she started training at the Galt Tennis Club (now Cambridge Tennis Club). Mary Ann achieved early success as a junior at both the provincial and national levels.

Attending the University of Waterloo, Mary Ann continued to excel in both tennis and basketball. In 1969, she won the Ontario University tennis championship, was MVP of the Ontario-Quebec championship basketball team, and was awarded the prestigious Dean of Women Award for athletic and academic excellence.

In honour of her athletic accomplishments, Mary Ann was among the first inductees into the University of Waterloo Sports Hall of Fame.

After graduating, Mary Ann entered the work force but continued to play tennis, competing in senior level tournaments. She has won numerous provincial singles and doubles (including mixed) titles. At the national level, Mary Ann has won over 30 outdoor championships and over 25 indoor titles. She has achieved a top 10 world doubles ranking and a top 20 world singles ranking.

As a result of her success at the national level, Mary Ann has represented Canada in the World Team Championships. She has been on over 20 national teams, captaining many of them, while competing around the world.

Mary Ann was treasurer of the Regional Interurban Tennis League for over 20 years, and currently volunteers as treasurer for the Cambridge Tennis Club.

Mary Ann was inducted into the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.

Glen Gaudet

Photo of Glen Gaudet

Coach Glen Gaudet has played a major role in the development of ringette at the national and international levels throughout his 30 years of involvement with the sport.

Starting his long association with ringette in 1986 in Edmonton, Glen moved to Cambridge in 1989 and continued by coaching his daughters. In 2004, Glen helped to found the National Ringette League.

As head coach of the Cambridge Turbos in the National Ringette League between 2004 and 2014, Glen helped the Turbos capture three gold and three silver medals. In 2008, the Turbos were undefeated and won a gold medal at the first ever World Club Championship. Since 2015, Glen has been the Turbo’s general manager.

At the provincial level, Glen coached Team Ontario to three consecutive gold medals at the 1999, 2003, and 2007 Canada Winter Games.

He also guided Team Canada East to a silver medal win at the inaugural U19 World Ringette Championships held in Prague, Czech Republic in 2009.

In 2011, Ringette Canada appointed Glen as the head coach of its’ senior national team. At the same time, he also served in a leadership capacity in the development of Ringette Canada’s junior national team.

For his achievements, Glen received Cambridge’s Sports Contributor of the Year award in 2009 and was inducted into the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

Charles Ottman - 1879-1906

Photo of Charles OttmanCharles Ottman spent his short life in the Village of Wellesley, documenting the community and its residents.

The eldest of 12 children, Charles worked in his father’s saddle and harness shop. In 1902, he contracted tuberculosis and was forced to find a less strenuous occupation.  He decided to become a photographer and opened a studio above his father’s business.

Charles’ earliest work was conducted under the name of Otter Portraits - a nice play on his surname! This work mainly consisted of portraits of his family. He later expanded his focus to include group photos, both large and small, and images of school children. In addition, he took views of the village, which he printed as postcards and sold for 5 cents each.

These photographs give a rare, intimate view of Wellesley Village and its people in all seasons. Charles documented his bustling community with his camera, capturing residents at play and at work, its streetscapes, and idyllic rural scenes. 

For more than 100 years, some of Charles’ best photographs had been lost to the public until two great nephews donated digital copies to the Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society. For historians, this collection of over 40 photos is a treasure trove, from an era when Charles was likely Wellesley’s only resident photographer.
Dorothy Russell - 1900-2006

Photo of Dorothy RussellTeacher, naturalist, historian, and amateur photographer Dorothy Russell had an impact on many organizations in Waterloo Region.

Dorothy graduated from the Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School in 1920 and received her teacher training at the Toronto Normal School the following year. Upon graduation, she immediately began teaching kindergarten at Kitchener’s Suddaby Public School, and worked in a number of schools until her retirement in 1965.

As a child, Dorothy had been taught to respect nature and, as a teacher, she often incorporated this environmental stewardship into her lessons.

Dorothy’s uncle, Frank Schantz, was a founder of the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists in 1934. She joined the K-W Field Naturalists in 1946 and continued to be actively involved, especially with the annual Christmas Bird Count, until past her 100th birthday.

An active member of the Waterloo Historical Society, Dorothy was a valuable resource during the planning of Kitchener’s Victoria Park 100th Anniversary celebration in1996. At the age of 96, she was chosen to play the role of Queen Victoria.

Dorothy, an avid photographer, began documenting the local community before the First World War. She also preserved a large collection of family papers and photographs, which illustrated life in Ontario in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This collection, donated to area archives and museums, is a significant resource for historians and has been widely used by scholars.