she was alive, Verna Cotton was a walking, talking treasure
trove of information when it came to the history of her
beloved Navan where she was born and raised and lived until
health issues forced her to move to a retirement residence
in Orléans. On June 4, she passed away after a lengthy illness
at the age of 92.
served many roles over the years. She was twice married.
Her first husband, Ralph Savage, died in 1955 after just
six years of marriage. She eventually remarried three years
later to Syd Cotton and the pair operated a dairy farm just
outside of town on Trim Road.
involved in nearly aspect of Navan life and was a teller
at the original RBC branch in the late 50s and early 1960s.
But it was her role as one of the founding member of the
Navan Women’s Institute that she was most proud of, and
in particular her role as curator of Navan’s Tweedsmuir
History books from 1984 to the time of her passing.
History books are a collection of newspaper articles, letters,
programs, photographs, wedding notices and anything else
that documents the community’s local history.
are more than 940 other communities in Ontario who keep
a Tweedsmuir History. The histories were initiated by Lady
Tweedsmuir, wife of Governor-General Lord Tweedsmuir, in
1945 in collaboration with the Federated Women’s Institutes
of Ontario. Verna was the third curator of the Navan Tweedsmuir
histories consist of two or three volumes. During Verna’s
tenure as curator, the Navan Tweedsmuir History grew to
more than eight volumes.
her work as village historian, Verna was also a member of
St. Mary’s Anglican Church and served as the church’s envelope
secretary for more than 40 years. She was a founding member
of the Cumberland Historical Society and contributed to
both the Murder in Navan and History of the Domes
friend and fellow Navan resident Ross Bradley sat behind
Verna at church for more years than he can remember. He
will remember her as a woman who devoted her life to collecting
and safeguarding the community’s history.
a wonderful person and she will be greatly missed,” says
a little known secret Verna was also an avid baker, having
won the Baking Queen competition at the Navan Fair on three
separate occasions and she was an enthusiastic bowler for
over 50 years.
she never had any children of her own, she always had time
for her many nieces and nephews including former Cumberland
mayor and Conservative MPP Brian Coburn who delivered her
eulogy during the memorial service on June 10.
it is unfortunate that it is only when we lose someone that
we find out the multitude of things in which they were involved
that have benefited all of us in one way or another,” Coburn
said about his aunt.
organizations, celebrations etc that we go to and enjoy,
but don’t give a lot of thought as to the effort and work
that goes on behind the scenes to that make an event or
organization successful. Verna was one of many workers behind
the scenes who make our community of Navan such a wonderful
place to call home. Rest in peace, Verna.”
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)