Paul Delorey, a former MLA, avid competitive curler and dedicated community volunteer, died on Jan. 1 at the age of 71.
His death resulted in a wave of tributes from residents of Hay River and beyond.
Delorey was first elected MLA for Hay River North in 1999, and was re-elected twice. In 2004, he was chosen by other MLAs to become the Speaker of the legislative assembly.
His time as MLA ended in 2011 when he did not seek re-election.
Delorey was born in Nova Scotia in 1949, and first came to Hay River in 1968. Three years later, he permanently moved to the community, where he worked as a train conductor before entering territorial politics.
Among those offering praise for his numerous contributions to the community was Keith Dohey, president of the Hay River Curling Club.
“Paul was a cornerstone of our club,” Dohey stated in a Facebook tribute on Jan. 2. “His contributions and dedication to our organization are legendary. He served on our executive in varying capacities for over 40 years, helping to ensure the success of the club and growing the sport of curling in our community and the North.”
As a competitor, Delorey played in numerous territorial, national and even international curling events over the years, including mixed, masters, club and 55+ championships. In 2016, his mixed team won gold at the Canada 55+ Games.
As a coach, he helped guide other curlers at many events, including the Arctic Winter Games, the Canada Winter Games, Junior Nationals, Under-18 championships and even the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2002.
In recognition of his contributions to curling, Delorey was selected to be a member of the Governor General’s Curling Club, a prestigious group with just 100 honorary members.
“He leaves behind a legacy that will last forever and shoes that can never be filled,” said Dohey. “Our club and our sport are where they are today in large part because of Paul’s tireless efforts, we owe him a debt of gratitude for his contributions and will do our best to continue down the path he paved for us.”
In comments to The Hub, Dohey noted Delorey was also involved in many other areas of the community, whether it be his time in politics or working for the railway or his contributions to the Knights of Columbus, during which he helped found a major fundraiser called Lobsterfest.
Dohey said Delorey was “dedicated” to Hay River.
Delorey was named Hay River’s Citizen of the Year in 2019, particularly for his contributions as MLA and as a curler and coach.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a member of this community,” Delorey said as he accepted the honour from the Town of Hay River.
And he expressed that the future of Hay River was important to him, particularly that the community’s children grow up in a good environment.
“That’s what it’s all been about for me,” he said.
Delorey was introduced as Citizen of the Year by Glenn Smith, a long-time friend and a teammate at several national curling tournaments.
“What he has contributed to the community and the Northwest Territories and to curling, it just speaks volumes to the type of person that he was,” said Smith of Delorey’s passing, adding the Delorey name is symbolic of curling in the NWT and beyond.
Smith, who is a director with the curling club and also the senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River, noted Delorey continued curling at a competitive level into his latter years.
Smith described Delorey as a community builder and a friend to all, and someone who was involved in many aspects of Hay River, from serving as MLA to working for his church to even having the idea of a Chase the Ace fundraiser to help the curling club.
“He should be a role model for all community citizens to see what he’s given to all these things,” Smith said.
Delorey, who also previously served as head icemaker for the curling rink, was once first runner-up as volunteer of the year for the whole country with the Canadian Curling Association.
The NWT Curling Association said Delorey will be sorely missed.
“Paul was a fierce competitor at many territorial and national championships, and he coached many young athletes, including his children,” the association noted in a Facebook post, which also recognized Delorey for his “passion” for the sport.
Jane Groenewegen, the former MLA for Hay River South, served in the legislative assembly with Delorey for 12 years.
“He was certainly a very hard worker on behalf of his constituents,” she said, noting he was also very well-liked and well-respected by other MLAs.
“I believe that as a representative of his constituents in the legislative assembly, he made Hay River very, very proud,” said Groenewegen.
She noted that, as Speaker of the legislative assembly, Delorey also represented the NWT on the national stage many times.
Delorey was Speaker from 2004 to 2011.