Valley Lives - Betty Kennedy

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the March 29, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

The Front Page Connection

By Louise Schwartz

Some older Gatineau Valley residents may have fondly noted the recent passing of Betty Kennedy, at the age of 91. The Toronto-based journalist and broadcaster is best remembered for her long-serving role on the CBC news quiz show, Front Page Challenge, which went off the air in 1995.

Betty Kennedy
Betty Kennedy on the day she was sworn in as a Senator, 2000. Collection of Betty Kennedy.

But how many knew about her lifelong attachment to the Gatineau Hills? Betty Kennedy revealed this connection in the current volume of Up the Gatineau!, the local history journal published annually by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS).

She recalled, "My memories of the Gatineau go back to my childhood days of summer at my Grandma's cottage on Meech Lake, just opposite the Freimans' place... My favourite walk was along the lakeshore road, past the rocky outcroppings, until I reached the Alexanders' big green and white cottage and boathouse.

"To a seven-year-old in the 1930s it seemed a wondrous and long adventure, although I suspect the distance was not great. As an adult, during times when I have been troubled, I have mentally taken myself back to that walk, walked every step of it again and found peace. In my present home there is an A.J. Casson painting which so resembles that landscape, it makes me feel those days again."

Betty Kennedy
The Kennedy gravestone at MacLaren Cemetery in Wakefield, 2014. Collection of Betty Kennedy.

Betty wrote that she returned to Meech Lake years later with her husband, Gerhard Kennedy, and their three boys, where they created their own special memories. Later, when her husband became ill and knew he was dying, he expressed the wish to be buried in the Gatineau because their time there had been so meaningful.

She concluded, "Our search together ended up at MacLaren Cemetery in Wakefield, where Gerhard was buried in 1975...It is not a sad time, but a time to be grateful for the many years of happiness together".

Betty's last visit to the area was in spring 2016. In a short note to the GVHS, she wrote, "I was back to Wakefield to plant the geranium and alyssum at Gerhard's gravesight - a yearly sojourn which I always enjoy. Drove Tuesday June 7th, overnight at the Mill and back to Campbellville [where she lived] Wednesday 8th. Happily my friend and housekeeper Rose kept me company, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the territory, all new to her.

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