Citizen of the Year: Iconic former mayor George Ferguson honoured

Former mayor George Ferguson, Abbotsford’s Citizen of the Year, now spends time working on his farm. - John Van Putten
Former mayor George Ferguson, Abbotsford’s Citizen of the Year, now spends time working on his farm.
— image credit: John Van Putten

In June, when he was recognized as one of the seven Order of Abbotsford winners, former Mayor George Ferguson was also chosen by city council as Abbotsford’s Citizen of the Year.

“I am appreciative and very humbled,” said Ferguson. “It was a great group of people. Any one of them could have won.”

Ferguson, who was called a political icon by current Mayor George Peary, began his career in local politics in 1969. He served until 2008, missing only three years from 2002-2005, when he was defeated in an election for the first and only time.

In a political career that spanned close to 40 years, only one term – his first – was as councillor. He was a key player in seeing the neighbouring municipalities of Abbotsford, Sumas and Matsqui amalgamated into one city.

Ferguson said he is still interested in politics, and keeps up with local affairs.

“I miss it to some degree,” he said. “It’s still interesting, and politics has a bearing on everybody, every day.”

He worked with Peary on council for many years, and gives the current mayor his endorsement.

“I think George Peary is doing an excellent job, and I hope he’ll be re-elected,” he said.

In addition to his work in local politics, Ferguson also served as the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), and as a soldier during the Second World War.

In announcing the award, the city noted “The Citizen of the Year award recognizes an individual contribution by a citizen who has served with the greatest distinction and excelled in fields of endeavour benefiting the residents of the City of Abbotsford.”

Since he passed on the political torch, he’s been no less busy, he says.

“People ask me what I’m doing in retirement – I still haven’t found it yet,” said Ferguson on a sunny afternoon, just before getting onto his riding lawn mower for a three-and-a-half-hour job.

“As long as you live on a farm, there’s always something to do.”

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