Valley Lives - Ernie Tributes Mahoney

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 12, 2010 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Fitting tribute for Hills historian, journalist

by Trevor Greenway

Journalist and local historian Ernie Mahoney will likely always be remembered throughout the Gatineau Hills. If not through the memories of those who knew him, then through a new book being published by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS).

"Tributes: Gatineau personalities and historic events" features a collection 31 stories and columns written by the late reporter while he was working with this newspaper and the West Quebec Post.

According to many who knew him, Mahoney had a "knack" for putting hot button issues into the right context so that his communities would always stay in the know. He also had a way with people, and as an interviewer he knew how to make them relax, said long-time friend and GVHS volunteer Norma Geggie, who spent the last year putting the book together with Anita Rutledge. Geggie said Mahoney had an interest in people and it showed in his writing.

"He would pick someone of interest and write these stories that would capture the history that is now gone," said Geggie. "These were stories that would come out on a weekly basis. They were all stories that meant something to the Gatineaus."

Mahoney took his insider's eye to characters such as Meech Lake's Canadian canoe legend Bill Mason and Bud Drury, former Canadian soldier and Liberal MP, just two personality features that appear in the tribute book. Mahoney joined the Low Down in 1985 where he wrote a weekly column on interesting residents as well along with features and news articles. Mahoney then moved on to become the Managing Editor for the Wakefield office at the West Quebec Post in 1987. This is where most people remember stopping in to see Mahoney on a weekly or even a daily basis. Old photographs, board paste-ups and stacks of papers littered the walls and desk in his office, said Geggie, things she calls "treasures" that were eventually used in the tribute book. Mahoney was spotted at nearly every community event, whether it was hot protest or a fall fair. He had his notebook, his white beard and his vintage film camera, even in the mid to late 2000s when the digital revolution started to make film an historical artifact.

Ernie also spent countless hours working with the GVHS, researching history and writing articles for its annual publication of "Up the Gatineau!" He also served as the society's president from 1998 to 2003 and was the founding member of the La Peche Heritage Committee, which led the charge to save and move move of Fairbairn House to its current location at Hendrick Park in Wakefield.

Mahoney was aware of the tribute book being put out by the GVHS, but he never got to see the finished product, as he died suddenly on April 28, 2009 of lung complications.

"He has been such a huge part of the Gatineau Hills for so long," said Geggie.

The GVHS is hosting its annual dinner and awards banquet May 17, where the book will be launched. "Tributes: Gatineau personalities and historic events" is on sale for $20. This year's "Up the Gatineau!" will also be launched. Tickets for' the dinner are $25 and can be reserved by calling Rene Nielson at 819-827-1845. For more information on the GVHS, visit the website at www.gvhs.ca.

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