Ella Foote was born Gistena Elin Einarson in Hekkla, Ontario in 1900. Hekkla is an Icelandic village founded in 1873 and is located near Perry Sound. Her parents had immigrated to Canada from Iceland. She had 8 brothers and sisters.
She married George Foote. George served in WWII. While he was in service, Ella managed a hotel in Algonquin Park. The Footes, moved to Cedar Springs Road in 1950 and lived near #2 Side Road.
Ella had a very strong connection to and love for North Burlington and its residents. Her sense of community spirit and duty led her to run for municipal office in 1970. During her time on Council she advocated for numerous improvements for North Burlington such as new roads and bridges and she was outspoken in her resistance to new planning and zoning controls that she felt negatively affected Ward 3. One of her community concerns was improving the recreational facilities for the village of Kilbride.
Ella continued to serve her constituents after she won her second term. At the time of her victory, Ella knew that she had throat cancer but was determined to continue serving her constituents until she no longer could. June 4, 1973 marked her last public meeting and two days later she was admitted to hospital and passed away on June 13th. She was described as “a woman of great caring, firm mind and great determination”. Her funeral was held at the Lowville United Church and was attended by almost 300 friends and colleagues. She was laid to rest at Lowville United Church Cemetery.
Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to see the completion of the hall in Kilbride that was built at a cost of $50,000. It was officially opened on May 12, 1975 and named in her honour posthumously. The Hall went on to host many groups and activities; Optimist Club meetings, cards, bingo, nursery and pre-school, a concession booth run by parents during baseball games with tennis courts being added later. The Hall was available for rent and was used by the Scouts and Girl Guides for weekend campouts.
The Hall has slowly fallen into disuse although it remains available to rent. Currently a new Kilbride Group, Kilbride Community Connects has initiated bringing together community stakeholders to work with the City of Burlington with the support of the current Councilor, Rory Nisan to see if there is community interest and support for reviving Ella Foote Hall and provide services and activities of interest to the residents. As times have changed, some of the Village residents feel both isolated and a disconnect to the community. Discussions are in the early stages.
Contributing Author: Helen Callaway