Valley Lives - Peter Jennings

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 10, 2005 issue. Reprinted with permission.

News giant loved Hills visits

by Ian Lordon

Perhaps lost in the tributes and remembrances which followed the passing of prominent newsman Peter Jennings was the broadcaster's attachment to the Gatineau Hills.

Jennings, who died of lung cancer Aug. 7, broke into television news in Ottawa and regularly returned to the area to enjoy the outdoors and visit his many friends and family here.

Valley Lives
Peter Jennings shown here at the Santa Clause Breakfast and Bazaar at the Chelsea Elementary in 2003.

"My father Brian Nolan worked with Peter at CJOH in 1961," Wakefield's Phil Nolan recalled. "It was because of Peter that our family moved to New York City in 1967."

Nolan, a freelance television cameraman, said his family enjoyed a long relationship with Jennings which spanned decades and two continents after it was first forged in Ottawa over 40 years ago.

"My father worked on This Hour Has Seven Days and when it was cancelled Jennings called him up and said come down here," he said. "We lived in New York until 1969 then moved to London where my father worked as a senior producer for ABC News. Peter was a foreign correspondent at the time and whenever he would visit London he'd drop by and check in on us. He was like an uncle to us."

Nolan said although Jennings came to love his adopted home (he became an American citizen in 2003), he never forgot his origins and frequently used his connections in America to provide opportunities to his friends in Canadian broadcasting.

"He never forgot his roots," he said. "He saw talent and he gave breaks to a lot of Canadians. Many people give him credit for their media careers."

Jennings' sister Sarah lives in Rupert and Nolan said the man who would become ABC's network news anchor in 1981 would regularly return here to visit her and enjoy some time away from the camera.

"The one thing I remember about Peter was his love of the north country," Nolan said. "He loved the simple life of paddling a cedar strip canoe on one of the beautiful lakes up here."

It was on one of those trips that Jennings built an Inukshuk on Green Lake near Lac Ste. Marie which remains standing today.

Nolan said it's a fitting local monument to a man who guided millions through world events every evening from his desk at ABC News.

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