History - Amalgamation

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Since the early 1960's, the issue of amalgamation has been a particularly sensitive one for the majority f Kippens residents. The amalgamation controversy focused on unification with the neighboring town of Stephenville to form one large municipality encompassing Harmon, Kippens, and Stephenville. Probably no other issue in the community's history affected so many people in so many ways.

The recommendation that a town or city be formed from the three neighboring units was made in a report prepared for the provincial government by Harnett, Kean, and Company of Corner Brook. The report stated that since all three appear to be integrated in most aspects of living, a common municipality would be the logical form of government for the area.

Many Kippens residents were not aware of local government operations and did not realize how amalgamation would affect them personally. Some residents were large landowners and feared property losses with the onslaught of amalgamation. One of the longtime opponents of amalgamation was Mrs. Gertrude Benoit, former chairperson of the Kippens local improvement district. Mrs. Benoit explains her position in the following passage: Personally, I did not have anything against Stephenville. I was concerned about Kippens and the good of the community. There were so many people at that time that had no deeds or surveys to their land, and there was probably a lot of land up for grabs. Many older people were not ready for that and I was afraid for them. Mrs. Benoit stresses that she not only fought the issue personally, but for the community, as well.

The mayor of Stephenville at that time was Mrs. Jean Fowlow. Mrs. Fowlow felt that a meeting should have been held for Kippens residents with the Minister of Municipal Affair, Val Earl, and officials of his department to answer questions about the amalgamation issue. Mrs. Fowlow also criticized the local improvement committee for failing to take the initiative to get a meeting with the municipal affairs officials. She said the issue was handled entirely wrong. "They put the cart before the horse" by sending a royal commission out to conduct public hearing before the pros and cons of amalgamation were explained to the people.

In recent years, the talk of amalgamation has diminished. It is the hope of the majority of residents that Kippens will be able to continue its good-willed relationship with Stephenville, while continuing to maintain its own unique and separate identity.