City officials recognize Tom Keeley’s exemplary contributions to Nepean

ABOVE: Keeley Falls at Andrew Haydon Park in the city's west end was designed by former Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Nepean, Tom Keeley.

Ottawa residents know Andrew Haydon Park as a great picnic destination, a place for wedding photos, to take a stroll, get close to nature, and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Walking through the park off Carling Avenue in the city’s west end, you’ll come upon a waterfall created by long-time Parks and Recreation Superintendent for the City of Nepean, Tom Keeley. Not only did Keeley design the falls, but he also helped create the park, one of the most beautiful in Ottawa.

Tom Keeley’s legacy, though, goes far beyond simply creating Keeley Falls. In his many years of service to the Nepean community, he ensured the city’s festivities and leisure programs ran smoothly. If you ever attended the Nepean Day fireworks at Andrew Hayden Park or any other City of Nepean festivity, you can thank Tom Keeley.

Keeley and his team also tended to the beautiful flowers and plants around the former City of Nepean. He also managed the municipal tree farm for Nepean, where many of the plants used in the city parks came from.

ABOVE: Tom Keeley with his wife Laura at the base of the falls.

Keeley and the Parks and Recreation Department also kept the rinks running during, even during, snowstorms, ensuring that parking lots and pathways were cleared for residents. A true civil servant, Keeley was not at the dinner table with his family many a night — he was working to ensure that the spaces citizens of Nepean relied upon daily were open and, most importantly, enjoyable for residents.

ABOVE: The original stone tribute to Tom Keeley was placed at the base of the falls upon his retirement.

At the time of Keeley’s retirement, his staff and colleagues placed a stone plaque in the water at the falls in Andrew Haydon Park, naming the site after him. For several years the beautiful site has been unofficially known as Keely Falls. However, thanks to Councillors Jan Harder and Theresa Kavanaugh's work, Keeley is now official with a commemorative plaque from the City of Ottawa.

On December 8, 2021, Councillor Jan Harder (who previously served on the Nepean City Council pre-amalgamation) and Bay Ward’s Councillor Theresa Kavanagh brought forward a motion to formally name the falls after Tom Keeley. The motion passed, and recently, a city plaque was unveiled at the site. In addition, Keely received a letter of commendation saluting him for his 20 years of commitment and service to Nepean Parks.

 ABOVE:  The new City of Ottawa commemorative plaque honouring Tom Keeley.

If you’re planning on going for a walk to enjoy the fall colours, head to Andrew Haydon Park. When you’re there, stop and admire the work of Tom Keeley. Keeley’s efforts to make Nepean a wonderful community for all outlasted his city. Now, the site is loved and appreciated by residents from all over the City of Ottawa.

One last thing about the City of Nepean: Andrew Haydon Park is named after the first mayor of Nepean. From Jan Harder, Andrew Haydon Park, and Keeley Falls, it’s easy to see that, although Nepean may be a city from the past, its legacy lives on.