Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, April 26


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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney





Community builders of the 60s and 70s were a trail-blazing bunch

Between the Greatest Generation, who lived and fought during the Second World War, and their so-called Baby Boomer children, is a generation of people who were born just prior to and during the war and who are largely responsible for establishing communities like Blackburn Hamlet, Convent Glen and Queenswood Heights during the late 60s and early 70s.

They were women like Lois Kemp and Eleanor MacQuarrie from Blackburn Hamlet who both passed away in 2015; Lori Nash from Queenswood Heights who left us in 2012; and Lynne Stacey, also from Queenswood Heights who is still with us today.

Helen Tweddle is another one of those community builders born out of a generation whose likes we might never see again.

Helen, or Mrs. T as she was known to many of the kids who grew up in the earliest days of Queenswood Heights, was involved in almost every aspect of community life. She started out as a Brownie leader when her eldest daughter Susan was old enough to be a Brownie, and later on became a Girl Guide leader.

She was a founding member of the both the Queenswood Heights Community Association and the Cumberland Community Resource Centre.

She also helped organize the annual May Fair and other community gatherings and celebrations.

But her proudest accomplishment was in establishing the Bookworm used book-store as a member of the Friends of the Cumberland Library. Over the years the bookstore has raised over $500,000 for the library which is located next to the Ray Friel Centre.

Helen was an avid reader and believed deeply in the power of the written word to both inform and inspire. Which reminds me, she also created the Queenswood Newsliner – a community bulletin which was around long before the Orléans Star came into being in 1986.

Without women like Helen Tweddle, Lori Nash, Eleanor MacQuarrie, Lynn Stacey, Lois Kemp and others like them, Orléans would be a vastly different place.

Unlike the first wave of Baby Boomers who were born after the war and were mere teenagers during the counter culture upheaval of the mid and late 60s, the WWII generation’s formative years were during the late 50s and early 60s.

They were only one generation removed from each other, but they could just have easily been a century removed.

The WWII generation started having families in the late 60s, while the first wave of Baby Boomers didn’t start having families until the late 70s.

The biggest difference between the two generations was economical. For the most part, the WWII generation formed single income families, that enabled many women to stay at home and raise their children. With the 70s came skyrocketing inflation, double digit interest rates and the need for many spouses to enter the workforce to help make ends meet.

A number of women born prior to, or during the Second World War, observed their fathers and uncles volunteer for active service, while their mothers and aunts volunteered in other ways on the homefront.

That sense of volunteerism for Queen and country was ingrained in the younger generation and later morphed into a strong sense of community service as they began to have families of their own.

When Helen moved to Queenswood Heights with her husband Al in 1963, there was no church, no schools and the nearest grocery store was a 20-minute drive away.

In many ways, the Tweddles and the other early Queenswood residents were pioneers. They were the very definition of community builders because they built their community – from establishing the first church to forming the first Brownie and Cub packs, creating the first minor sports associations, and establishing the local library.

Unfortunately, their like may never be seen again. Oh sure, there are members of any community who step up to the plate when called upon, but they are the 10 per cent who volunteer for 100 per cent of the jobs. There are far too many distractions that exist today which never existed 30 and 40 years ago.

We are being pulled in 20 different directions at once.

Life was simpler in the late 60s and early 70s, and women like Helen Tweddle, Lori Nash, Lynn Stacey, Lois Kemp and Eleanor MacQuarrie made the most out of it – building their communities while also raising their families. They did not differentiate between community and fam-ily. In their minds were one in the same, which is their greatest legacy. .

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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