Valley Lives - Lynn Munro
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the March 14, 2007 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Huge crowd grieves sudden loss of Tulipe Noire's Lynn Munro
by Ian Lordon
If the Gatineau Hills were ever to host a state funeral it would probably look an awful lot like the sendoff accorded to Wakefield's Lynn Munro.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at McGarry's Funeral Home on Valley Dr. March 10 to pay their respects to a village icon, most recently the owner of Riverside Drive' La Tulipe Noire boutique, who died suddenly of cancer five days earlier at the age of 48. Cars packed the parking lot, and flowed down both sides of Valley Dr. to the spring. The funeral home itself could barely contain the outpouring of grief and love, with many huddled in the hallways and even into the basement, at least finding a warm place from the freezing rain fell on the morning of Munro's funeral service.
"I'm not sure how many people there were, the whole place was full," Munro's longtime friend Helena White marveled. "The people were actually watching the service in other rooms on TV. It was quite a performance, she would have loved it."
White first met Munro when they were neighbours in Ottawa South nearly 30 years ago. Munro, then a young childcare worker, tended to White's children at Capital Daycare and the pair struck up a friendship that would last a lifetime. Along the way they worked together, went into business together, traveled together, and moved together - north, up the Gatineau.
"When Lynn and (husband) Jamie first came here they rented from me. They really liked the area and stayed," she said.
None of us, in the end, are larger than Life.
But some of us come close.
In our daily quests to illuminate the shadows
We stand near those who cast a long light
The ones who, hung in the tree's high branches,
Highlight handholds for the climb to the sturdy limbs
Where family and friends embrace.
Down here, on the hard ground
That big laugh, even now,
In the quiet, crisp coldness that has the village
And holds the black tulips down
Barks back at the fast train
That came out of season.
That big laugh,
Louder than any whistle that blows.
- from a friend.
The young couple met at Brookfield High School in Ottawa and were indivisible ever after, "living almost as a single being" as friend David Maitland put it in his speech at the funeral. Lynn and Jamie, 49, who worked both in construction and as an artist, had two daughters, Mara, now 24, and Dale, 23, and lived in Low and Chelsea before settling in a home they built on the east side of the Gatineau River near the Cascades Golf Club in 2002.
But whether in high school, in Ottawa, Low, Chelsea, or Wakefield, everyone who came in contact with Lynn Munro remembers her by one thing: that laugh.
White described it as a "most amazing crowd stopper" in her funeral speech, while Chelsea's Maitland called it "boisterous, infectious, cackling laughter". It was that laughter, that positive, compassionate, take-life-as-it is attitude that was mentioned over and over by her many friends and neighbours, whether close to Lynn or just aquaintances. "She had real character and she was a real character," Maitland described her to her mourners. "She filled Chelsea, she filled Wakefield. Her charisma was so strong you just had to be near her... she was a landmark."
Afterward, the long-time friend reflected on the event itself.
"I've been to a lot of funerals and I've never been to anything like that before. It had a tone and spirit and joyful, sad feeling that was gripping and mesmerizing. There was so much positive energy in there, the building was ready to levitate."
It was only natural then that many of the mourners found their way down to Kaffe 1870 after the service to share memories of Munro over a pint and a laugh where she had enjoyed both herself over the years.
"She was my dancing partner, what a wonderful woman," Kaffe owner Ron Regimbald said. "When she and Dale came in it was like you had 14 people there and it was all laughing and giggling-a very positive feeling. It was a joy to have her as a friend and as a neighbour. She was just a wonderful girl."
Friends and family planned to gather at Kaffe 1870 again March 14 to assemble a collage dedicated to Munro they intend to hang in the window of La Tulipe Noire. A heartfelt memorial, but no substitute for the genuine article, a mother, wife, and friend already sorely missed by many.
"This is my best friend, my confidante. I couldn't walk by the store without stopping to say hi. Both ways," Helena White lamented, "She touched a lot of lives, we have been diminished by her spark going out. It was like lightning struck. It was very tragic, she was very young. She was something the world needs more of."
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