In the Hills - Joyce and Winfield Richens

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 09, 2008 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Gleneagle in the swinging sixties

by Catherine Joyce

Joyce Richens and Theresa Winfield both arrived in Gleneagle to raise their families within one year each other - Joyce in 1958 and Theresa in 1959.

The Richens bought their home from local developer, Carson Cross, who had built most of the houses along the 105 in Gleneagle after the war. Theresa's home originally belonged to George Cochrane, the first Commodore of the Gatineau River Yacht Club (GRYC). Surrounded by trees now, the house sits on an old swimming pool, once a feature of the Gleneagle Golf course developed by Carson's father, Jason Cross, who ran an Inn across the road. The Inn is now known as the Kimberley house.

For years the Gleneagle Golf course and swimming pool were popular (at 50 cents a day) with cottagers in the area, many of whom had moved up from Chelsea Island to Tenaga where the open fields of the Napkin farm offered sanctuary when the river rose in 1926. However by the late fifties, the swimming pool was cracked, the clubhouse had burnt down and Carson was selling off the golf course. You could buy a piece of land for $200 down, and a house for $10,000.

In the Hills
A view of Theresa Winfield's Gleneagle house, taken in the sixties.The house sits on an old swimming pool, once a feature of the Gleneagle golf course. The golf course was sold off in the late 1950s. Photo courtesy Cotherine Joyce.

Both nurses, Theresa (via a childhood in Calcutta and Darjeeling) had been trained in England and Joyce at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa. Now they were two young mothers on a long, empty highway with no street lights. Joyce used to push her baby daughter in a British pram up to Larrimac and back but by the mid-sixties huge logging trucks made the outing too dangerous.

The women felt like pioneers, especially in winter with the darkness and the isolation. The phone was just a box on the wall with a handle that you cranked. It was connected to Sarah Reid's store at Kirk's Ferry but she could only answer the switchboard in between customers. Joyce still remembers her own number: 37 ring 6."

Al Richens and John Winfield both worked at the NRC. Soon a car Pool with Marius van Wijk, Manfred Paulun and Don Honegger, also of the NRC, allowed a family car to be available for the wives; or they could ride into Union Station on the morning train from Gleneagle for a day's shopping.

As their children grew up Joyce and Theresa returned to nursing. Theresa worked on the maternity ward at the Civic Hospital and later for a private surgery. Initially Joyce volunteered for the Drs. Geggie at the old Wakefield Hospital, becoming in Stuart Geggie's words, "the first VON in Western Quebec"; she then took night shifts at the Civic to pay for their first sailbqat - an Enterprise, number E4269, with blue sails,

By 1963 the Winfields and the Richens, with Ivan Herbert and Pat Evans, had started the GRYC. They wanted to call it the Gleneagle Sailing Club but Quebec law requires that a sailing club be named after the nearest body of water, so it became the Gatineau River Yacht Club.

Al was the first fleet captain. John built his own boat. Arthur Brown donated the boom logs to moor the boats. The wives scrubbed and painted the original clubhouse at the foot of the Yacht Club Road; it wouldn't be until 1964 that the GRYC bought the island from the Bennetts.


Joyce remembers. "We were 'the little club up the river that could'. Our first year Allan and I won two trophies at the Britannia sailing races - imagine! The GRYC drew the community together. We were all young with young families and we helped each other, creating healthy, outdoor fun for our kids. For fifty years in Gleneagle we've shared a unique way of life."

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