Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
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Tim Tierney



 

 

 

   
(Updated 3 p.m., April 10)
Queenswood Heights pioneer will be deeply missed

By Heather Jamieson
The Orléans Star

From the day Helen Tweddle first moved to Queenswood Heights with her husband Al and the first of their five children in 1963, she devoted her life to her community. Photo courtesy of the Tweddle family

One would be hard pressed to find any aspect of life in Queenswood Heights over the past 50 years in which Helen Tweddle didn’t play a part. Her March 24 death, at the age of 78, has left the entire community in mourning.

The Toronto native moved to Ottawa in 1961 with her husband Al for his job at the National Research Council.

When they decided to move from an apartment to a house with the first two of their five children in 1963, the most economical homes close to Al’s work were in the fledgling Queenswood Heights development. It wasn’t exactly in the middle of nowhere, but close. The unpaved road to get to their Sault Street home was more goat path than street.

“I remember when we moved in, it rained all day and we had a sea of mud and water in front of the house,” she reminisced in “Queenswood Heights: Memories from up the Hill,” a book she began with fellow resident Lori Nash in 2002. After Nash’s death in 2012, the book was completed by Helen and her daughter Sue Guarda.

Her youngest child Terrie told the hundreds gathered at her memorial service on April 7 that her strong-willed mom resisted the temptation to return to the conveniences of Toronto and “instead of giving up, she got involved.”

When Orléans Ward councillor Bob Monette moved to the neighbourhood in 1983, he quickly realized Helen was dedicated to helping develop every aspect of Queenswood Heights. “Orléans has lost a true community builder,” he says

Helen devoted 40 years to producing the Newsliner, a monthly community bulletin. She was a both a Brownie and Girl Guide leader. She was an active member of Queenswood United Church from the day it first opened. She was an organizer of the annual spring fair; and she was a tireless advocate for literacy and recreation facilities. She was particularly proud of starting the Bookworm, a used book store at the Cumberland Branch of the public library, which has raised nearly $500,000 to support the library’s activities.

Surrounded by his children in the home he shared with Helen for 55 of the 59 years they were married, Al spoke with pride about his wife’s commitment to her family, including three grandchildren, her church and her community.

“She was a stay-at-home mom whose career was her family and building the community,” he said with immense pride. A tireless community leader himself, Al notes that the list of Helen’s activities doesn’t reflect how much support she gave to his own work in the community, especially with the Friends of Petrie Island which he help found.

The Tweddle home was a gathering place for her children and their friends. Helen, known as Mrs. T, always had time to listen. She is remembered as never being judgemental, and in any debate, whether with teenagers or politicians, she was always respectful and respected.

Helen was also a voracious reader. Her library contained over 3,000 books and her family estimates she read more than 10,000 books in her lifetime.

Between raising five children and her many community activities, Helen was able to carve out personal time to read late at night, after the kids had gone to bed.

Through all this, she was the main support to daughter Sue through her bout with breast cancer and had her own battle against Stage 4 lung cancer 12 years ago.

The Queenswood Heights Community Association (QHCA), on which Helen was a long-serving executive member, is considering ways to honour Helen and will be consulting with the family “to ensure it is the perfect thing to reflect her,” says QHCA president Émelie-Anne Duval.

Helen’s self-effacing nature was summed up by the heartfelt rhetorical question Sue asked while addressing the more than 300 friends who gathered at the Heritage Funeral Complex for her mother’s memorial service on April 7: “Mom, do you even realize the people you affected or the people you have touched in your life?”

Predeceased by her parents Thelma and Lawrence Wilkinson; Helen is lovingly survived by her husband Allen; brother Bob (Lynne); sister-in-law Barb (Peter); children Steve, Sue (Bob), Debbie (Kirk), Mark (Pete) and Terrie (Jason); and grandchildren Matthew, Courtney and Christopher.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

   
   

 




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