Phil Arber, well known in Vankleek Hill for his large role in the community, has passed away.

A family member made the announcement on Facebook. Under the banner of his company, Excellent Events, Arber was behind many of Vankleek Hill’s best-loved events, including the Festival of Flavours, Parade of Lights, May Show, and many more. He was also the owner of the building which houses Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre. At the most recent Parade of Lights, just a few weeks ago, Arber was presented with a plaque from Champlain Township, thanking him for his years of contributions.

Arber, an engineer, was originally from Manitoba, and moved onto his farm in the area in 1973.

The Township of Champlain published a statement on Thursday, highlighting Arber’s role as a “community builder.”

“Most of our residents within the municipality at least knew of Mr. Arber as he worked on many community projects in addition to running his company, a hobby farm and an antiques business,” said Champlain Township Mayor Gary Barton in the statement, “A fixture in our community since the 1970s, I am convinced people will remember him as a mover and a shaker, one who would get things done as per his vision of events, for having a direct personality, but above all else, his sense of community. Our thoughts are with his friends, family, and associates. He will be remembered for a long time.”

More to come.

Phil Arber (second from left) with the Canadian Pickers (Photo Tara Kirkpatrick)