LETTER: AW Neill shouldn’t be vilified in this day and age for decisions made in a different era

I am writing in defense of the good name of Mr. Alan Webster Neill…

To the Editor,

I am writing in defense of the good name of Mr. Alan Webster Neill (1868–1960), a former Member of Parliament for Alberni-Comox. His opinions are not in line with the general thought today. That is no reason to vilify his name.

Mr. Neill lived in a different age. He came to Alberni near the end of the 19th century and settled as a farmer in Cherry Creek. He led the movement to found the farmers’ co-op here in the Alberni Valley: an institution that helped the farmers by buying hay and other cattle and farm animal feed and selling farm implements at a reduced price.

Neill also served on the Alberni City Council in the early days after the city was incorporated. He was highly thought of by all and it really grieves me to see this present attempt to blacken his name.

What has Mr. Neill done to provoke such antipathy that some people want to take away the honour bestowed on him by having a school and a street named in his honour?

He was elected Member of Parliament for Alberni-Comox. His most outstanding victory was the passing of the Old Age Pension Act so that we, today, are receiving pensions as a result of the good work of Mr. Neill and like-minded MPs who pushed hard for this legislation—which has benefited all people throughout Canada.

The first pensioner in Canada was Mr. William Darby, a resident of the Alberni Valley. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery with a notation on his wooden gravestone to that effect. This honour was given to Mr. Darby because of the excellent work of Mr. Neill, who was among the leaders who pushed for pensions for all.

As for covenants, why should persons who are dead be allowed to control the lives of the living? That is really the essence of covenants. So I am in complete sympathy with Mrs. Valerie Harrison. She should have her money refunded and all covenants abolished.

Let us work toward something that will benefit those living today and forget the wounds of yesteryear.

Lloyd A. Hills,

Port Alberni

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