Valley Lives - Janeth McKinley

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the December 02, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Sporty principal founded Chelsea's phys-ed program

by Mark Burgess

The Gatineau Hills lost a valued educator and pioneering sportswoman when Chelsea's Janeth McKinley, teacher and principal at several of the region's schools and denizen of its athletic clubs, died Oct 15 at the age of 82.

McKinley grew up in Ottawa, attending Glebe Collegiate Institute - where she was Head Girl and a member of the ski and basketball teams - before moving on to the University of Toronto. In 1951 she married John McKinley and they built their home in Kingsmere.

After teaching tennis in Kingsmere for several years, she started Chelsea school's physical education program in 1963, along with its intramural sports program.

Valley Lives
McKinley taught tennis at Kingsmere before moving on to Chelsea school. Photo courtesy Margaret Tardiff.

McKinley was principal of several schools throughout her career, sometimes all at once. Willy Allan, who worked under McKinley at Wakefield elementary before eventually replacing her, remembers her as "a sporty type" who he easily got along with. While at Wakefield she was simultaneously principal at Maniwaki, Poltimore and Queen Elizabeth school in Kazabazua.

Allan recalls how happy McKinley was when she got the opportunity to return to Chelsea as principal.

"That's where she wanted to be," he said.

Kevin Drysdale, a former teacher at Chelsea who later worked alongside McKinley as a fellow principal, said she was "a wonderfully enthusiastic administrator and a close colleague."

McKinley retired in 1985, after which point "she played tennis and golf and skied until her body wouldn't allow her to do it anymore," said her daughter Margaret, 54, who lives in Chelsea.

Margaret said her mother referred to her arthritis as her friend Arthur, who eventually stole her from the slopes and courts and planted her in her garden, which became her "pride and joy".

Margaret said her mother had a keen appreciation for the outdoors in addition to sports, spending hours fishing from her canoe, and also loved a good game of bridge or a conversation about politics.

McKinley also worked in the Gatineau Valley Historical Society's image bank and was only the second woman president of the Larrimac Golf Club.

She died of a stroke Oct. 15. She will be missed by her three children - Dedie Hudson, 56, Margaret and John, 52 - her five grandchildren and three greatchildren.

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