‘Ottawa’ Archivist Squibs Mercier, 92, honoured by The Ottawa Kennel Club
Squibs Mercier was going to skip The Ottawa Kennel Club’s annual pot luck dinner on Wednesday to watch the popular British TV program Coronation Street.
After some debate, Mercier thought better of it. She put on her coat and out the door she went.
What she didn’t know was that this year’s pot luck dinner was just an excuse for the club’s members to honour her.
“For she’s a jolly good fellow, for she’s a jolly good fellow, for she’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny,” sang the 30 or so members who came to surprise her, some driving from as far as Brockville for the occasion.
“I’m overwhelmed. Thank you,” said a visibly moved Mercier as she accepted a bouquet of flowers.
“It’s so lovely to see everyone here,” Mercier said in an interview. “They are my extended family.”
Mercier, a fiery and funny 92-year-old, said she joined the club in 1952.
At the time, feminist Charlotte Elizabeth Whitton was the first female mayor of Ottawa. Leslie Frost, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, was the premier of Ontario and Liberal leader Louis St-Laurent was the 12th Prime Minister of Canada.
The Ottawa Kennel Club, Canada’s oldest dog club, was first established in 1887.
Mercier, the club’s archivist, has spent countless hours documenting its history.
“It’s been my life, and this has been the greatest hobby in the world.” Mercier said.
Mercier said she discovered, after some research, that the OKC was founded by Perley George Keyes and his partner Alfred Geddes.
“The two gentlemen who started it were very active in the government. They lived on Rideau Street and named it the Rideau Kennel Club,” she said. “It was only later renamed, around 1889, as the Ottawa Kennel Club.”
According to Mercier’s research, the internationally recognized Show of Shows competition originated with the club in 1967.
“To mark Canada’s centennial,” she said.
Mercier has a picture of Vicky, her Staffordshire Bull Terrier, printed on her tote bag.
“She’s not a pit bull,” said Mercier, an ardent advocate of breed specific legislation all her life.
“I even went to Queen’s Park,” she said, to give then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty an earful because dogs like Vicky were being lumped into the same group as pit bulls.
McGuinty’s Liberal government implemented a pit bull ban in 2005.
What followed was a set of expletives from Mercier, who then laughed and said, “I know you can’t print that.”
Cheryl Drain, an honourary member of the club, called Mercier “an extraordinary woman.”
“And to think she almost stayed home,” added Drain’s husband John, a past president of the club.
“She our national treasure,” said Carol Broadhurst, president of the OKC.