London’s No. 4 fire hall has a new name.
Dozens gathered on Thursday as the Colborne Street fire station was renamed in honour of retired former deputy chief W. Peter Harding.
Harding’s daughter Shaune MacLeod was in attendance at the unveiling, and says it was a “joyful” and “overwhelming” day.
“We weren’t expecting anything like this so to have this honour bestowed upon my dad, it’s very touching,” MacLeod says.
Harding was a member of The Order of St. John, London and Area Food Bank, Irish Benevolent Society London & Area, Knights of Columbus and St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica Council.
She says it’s great to see so many people come out to celebrate her father’s life and legacy.
“The reaching out that he did to the community was embraced. They really embraced what he did, what he stood for in the community and how he was able to pull together so many groups to work together,” MacLeod adds.
MacLeod says her father always had a presence about him and you always knew when he was in the room.
“He was kind, gentle and always willing to do something for somebody else.”
She says she remembers one Christmas when she was young when her father was just beginning with St. John Ambulance. She says he came home from doing the transfer of a cancer patient on Christmas Day who couldn’t afford to get out of the hospital to see his family.
“He said to us, ‘We need to do something to help these people’, so we gathered up some of our toys we got for Christmas and oranges and stuff we got in our stockings and we sent those to the children of the patient who was coming out of the hospital.”
She says she’s touched that every time she drives by the hall now she will get to see his name proudly display on the sign out front.
London Fire Chief Lori Hamer says it’s an honour to dedicate the hall to Harding.
“He left such a lasting legacy and such an impression on the London Fire Department and our staff, and on the community as a whole.”
London Mayor Ed Holder was also in attendance and says Harding was an inspiring man who was “fiercely passionate” about many things – his family, the fire department, the food bank, St. John Ambulance and the Irish Benevolent Society.
“There aren’t enough words in the lexicon to describe the type of gentleman he was,” Holder says.
Holder says the process to rename the fire hall started when a retired firefighter sent him an email saying it would be great to honour Harding.
Holder then went to London Food Bank Director Glen Pearson who spoke to the family and they got the ball rolling.
“This is the culmination of a little bit of effort but a lot of heart from a lot of people,” Holder says.
The mayor says Harding will never be forgotten in the community.
“London, Ontario and Canada would be so much better off with a lot more Peter Hardings,” Holder says. “He truly was that inspiration and had a sincere goodness about him.”
London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos was also in attendance and says it’s extraordinary to see the hall named after Harding.
“We honour a true community leader,” Fragiskatos says, “Leadership comes in many forms. Peter Harding epitomized the definition and he also epitomized the definition of ‘heroism.’”
Fragiskatos says Harding gave his life to public service as a firefighter and as a community volunteer in a number of different ways.
“We’ve lost a true Londoner, a very proud and wonderful man.”
Harding passed away at the age of 81. He spent 38 years with the London Fire Service, retiring in 1998.
He passed away peacefully at home on December 4, 2018, as a result of ingesting carcinogens.