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Verne McIlwraith was a prominent Guelph newspaper columnist, historian and sportsman. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander McIlwraith and earned numerous honours and tributes during his lifetime through his public service to his country and community.
Verne McIlwraith served in the Royal Canadian Medical Corps during the Second World War. While in London after the war, he joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association and spent time in Holland and Germany, where he directed camps for displaced persons.
Upon his return to Canada, Verne McIlwraith became a correspondent for the Toronto Telegram in Guelph from 1933-1965. He also worked as a stringer for daily newspapers in Hamilton, London and Windsor and for the British United Press.
Verne McIlwraith joined the editorial staff of the Guelph Daily Mercury newspaper in June, 1947 and claimed the distinction of being the city's first photo-journalist. He reported extensively on city hall politics. Through his reporting and columns, such as Current Comment and As It Happened, Verne McIlwraith became known as a prominent local historian. He retired from the Guelph Mercury in June 1971.
As an organizer of the Guelph Historical Society, Verne McIlwraith later became president and honourary patron of the Wellington County Historical Association.
As a long time member of the YMCA, Verne McIlwraith played a lead role in the organization of the Guelph Sports Advisory Council and worked for fifty years with the Ontario Amateur Softball Association, receiving a lifetime membership in 1970 and gold plaque for his distinguished service.
Verne McIlwraith was a past master of the Guelph Masonic Lodge, former member of the Royal Arch Mason - Guelph Chapter and Guelph Preceptory, Knights Templar and the Ramses Temple (Toronto) and the Guelph District Shrine Club. He also served as the member of the Col. John McCrea Branch 234 of the Royal Canadian Legion and played a major role in the preservation of Col. McCrae's birthplace.
In 1967, Verne McIlwraith chaired Guelph's Centennial Committee and the city's 150th anniversary committee in 1972. In 1967, the City of Guelph honoured him with the hanging of his portrait at Centennial Arena. He was also honoured by the Province of Ontario with the awarding of the Centennial Achievement Award. In 1970, Verne McIlwraith was also honoured with the Centennial Medal by the Province for his contribution to amateur sports. He received the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 1977 and was made a member of the Order of Canada.
Verne McIlwraith died on April 4, 1981, at the age of 78, after a lengthy illness.