Al and his wife Barb moved to Almonte in the 1960s to raise their young family in ‘The Friendly Town’. Around that time, Al started experimenting with the idea of integrated outdoor play structures for children. In the years that followed, Al and Barb founded the play structure company – Hilan – which ended up building over 1000 play structures for communities across North America. ‘Our Work is Child’s Play’ was Hilan’s motto, and many residents of Mississippi Mills, including all four of Al and Barb’s children, worked for the company over its lifespan.
In the 1980s, the Potvin family purchased a small 20-acre farm on the edge of Almonte. The property ran North from Carss St. along the Mississippi River. For the next 40 years, Al dedicated himself to transforming the property into a community space for neighbours and friends to explore and enjoy. Residents from all over Mississippi Mills will remember the many ways that Al and Barb opened their property up to the community including;
- Maintaining trails for hikers & dog walkers to enjoy
- Collecting mountains of leaves from community households, and in turn offering fresh compost soil
- Planting sunflower fields, and inviting the wider community to take some home with them
- Hosting a Winter Solstice celebration with a massive bonfire
- Initiating a tree sale program that has sold approximately 8000 trees
The Potvin family further supported their community with employment opportunities at Hilan, as well as through countless fundraising and volunteering initiatives for local charities. Through the years, they were actively involved with local initiatives associated with:
- The Almonte Chamber of Commerce
- The Almonte General Hospital
- The Hub Hospice
- The Almonte Potters Guild
- TYPS, Youth Centre in Almonte
- The Almonte Civitan Club
- The Canadian Association of Family Enterprise
In his 80s, having been pre-deceased by his wife Barb, Al decided to pursue the sale of his beloved property to fund the creation of the Al Potvin Family Foundation. After the appropriate due diligence, Al elected to sell the property to a local builder committed to developing the property in line with his priorities. The Al Potvin Family Foundation aims to bless the community which has given Al and his family so much. Al and his family hope that the Foundation will help to empower the children and youth of Mississippi Mills for generations to come.
Al is deeply grateful to his second wife Shirley Deugo for supporting him in creating the Al Potvin Family Foundation.
Al would also like to thank Tom Affleck, who’s leadership and faithfulness helped to bring his legacy vision to life.