Flags at Sarnia City Hall and the County of Lambton will fly at half-mast this week following the death of a beloved honourary council member and dedicated citizen.
Nick Monsour passed away Monday at the age of 97, according to an obituary. The Sarnia man was known for his record-setting attendance at both city and county council meetings, spanning decades and culminating in his designation as an honourary council member in 2020.
“We have never had anyone as dedicated as Mr. Monsour at attending our council meetings,” Lambton’s Warden Kevin Marriott noted. “He came through storms no matter what time of the year, rain, snow or shine.
“I even received a Christmas card yesterday at the same time I heard he had passed. I visited him at the nursing earlier this year and was always a joy to talk to and be around.”
Both Marriott and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said Monsour is the only citizen to ever be named an honourary council member.
“He was always the nicest person,” Bradley said. “Even just a week or two ago, both the city and county received notes from him, congratulating them on their elections.
“Everyone always looked for him at the meetings.”
In fact, when council meetings went virtual due to the pandemic, the city arranged for agenda packages to be delivered to Monsour, so he wouldn’t miss them.
“It’s been my philosophy all my life to support council by attending,” Monsour told The Journal in 2015. By then, he’d attended 1,440 meetings – over more than 60 years – at which he spent hours following the discussion, debates and decisions on municipal business. “I feel that if you are present, you have a one-on-one with the people making comments. If you have concerns, you can talk to the councillors or staff.”
He also told The Journal he’d wished more residents would get involved, noting that he was often among just a handful of three or four observers and a table of reporters in council chambers.
“In a way it’s sad that sometimes I’m on my own,” he’d said.
Monsour arrived in Sarnia in 1954 to take a job as a mechanical engineer at Polymer Corporation, and began attending regular council meetings; at the time, the late William Nelson was mayor.
According to his obituary, Monsour was actively involved in the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) and rose to the position of President in 1986; later in life he was appointed to PEO Council by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
In 2020, he was named an honorary council member by both the city and County of Lambton.
Monsour was also a long supporting member of the Inn of the Good Shepherd and the Women’s Interval Home in Sarnia, and an cctive member of Grace United Church and past Chair of Lambton Presbytery.
In a handwritten letter to both the city and county just last month, Monsour expressed his gratitude to the newly elected and re-elected members.
“The purpose of this letter is to express thanks for the great value [of] service to our people and community,” he wrote. “Thank you for your service to our community. Keep me informed.