It is a time-honoured tradition dating back to Kingston’s first mayor, whose portrait still graces the walls of city hall.
On Thursday, a painting of former mayor Harvey Rosen was unveiled.
Rosen served as the city’s 94th mayor from 2003-2010.
He couldn’t attend the day’s ceremony because of his failing health, but his family and wife, Sharon, were on hand.
“I think it shows someone who really has genuine love for the city of Kingston,” she says.
“It’s a great honour for me to come and be here — we were both really sad that Harvey couldn’t be here today.”
Geoff Coons, the former mayor’s executive assistant, read a letter of appreciation from Rosen, thanking his wife, Sharon, and many others for their support over the years.
The letter also reflected Rosen’s wit, something that sometimes gets missed in the world of politics.
“The city took my pass away, so after those first few parking tickets in 2011, I learned quickly to get with the program so I wouldn’t have to visit that payment counter,” says Coons.
Kingston artist Daniel Hughes painted Rosen’s likeness from a series of photographs, and in consultation with the Rosens.
“I wanted to make sure I did a good portrait. The most important thing for me was that Sharon and Harvey were both really happy with the piece.”
When Rosen was elected mayor in 2003, he began work on a list of multi-million-dollar projects that became known as ‘The Group of Seven.’
Those projects included the Downtown Sports and Entertainment Centre, the multiplex ice pads in the city’s west end, restoring the Grand Theatre, widening John Counter Boulevard, and what was the largest infrastructure project of the day — upgrading the Ravensview Sewage Treatment Plant.
Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen served as a city councillor while Rosen was mayor, and was the next mayor after Rosen.
“I had the opportunity to cut the ribbon on a lot of things that Harvey Rosen had actually started,” says Gerretsen.
“Harvey had such an incredible influence and impact on our community. A lot of the things we enjoy, and tourists enjoy today, are the results of Harvey Rosen’s leadership.”
Current mayor Bryan Paterson didn’t enter municipal politics until after Rosen had returned to private life, but Paterson says Rosen always made himself available.
“His willingness to always take that time to offer his advice, his perspective, it really is a real benefit to whoever’s in the current role,” says Paterson.
Rosen’s portrait is expected to hang near the council chambers, where he spent two terms in office, working to improve city services and amenities that continue to impact the lives of residents to this day.