THUNDER BAY – Leader’s Ledger – On February 14, Thunder Bay lost one of its finest and most accomplished citizens with the passing of Eleanor Joan Miller, more commonly known as Dusty Miller, at the age of 82.
Dusty Miller was likely best known to the public for two things: first, the fact that she became the first female mayor of the amalgamated city of Thunder Bay, formed by the joining of the former cities of Port Arthur and Fort William; second, for her incredible contribution to the building of a remarkable and vibrant arts and cultural community in our city.
She was an Order of Ontario recipient. She received the Maggie Bassett Award for her outstanding contribution to theatre. She directed the Port Arthur Community Players, later to become the Cambrian Players, and Lakehead Musical Productions, and she was a member of Theatre Northwest, later to become Magnus Theatre, as well as serving on numerous boards and committees. In fact, there are too many to mention in the time allowed to me today.
Dusty was first elected to city council in 1974, serving till 1978, when she ran for mayor and was successful in defeating Walter Assef. For those who know a little of Thunder Bay’s politics, defeating Walter Assef was no small feat. After her term as mayor, Dusty Miller continued to serve her community in elected office as a councillor from 1985 to 1991.
Dusty Miller’s legacy includes many contributions, including the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, one of the finest concert halls in North America, if I might say so. Along with her late husband, Tom Miller, a former professor of mine at Lakehead University, and many others, they helped transform what was formerly Lakehead Technical Institute into Lakehead University.
Those who have held elected office know just how difficult our work can be. I think the words spoken by current councillor Ken Boshcoff, first elected to public office the night Dusty became mayor in 1978, are appropriate and fitting. He said he quickly learned from Dusty Miller that what was best for the city was not always the popular route. Dusty was highly principled and courageous, to the point that it cost her the mayoralty after only one term.
Dusty Miller’s commitment to our city was extraordinary. Speaker, my sympathies to her family and friends. Thunder Bay has lost one of its finest.
Bill Mauro MPP
Thunder Bay Atikokan