Anita Barber Rutledge
It is with sadness that we learned of the passing of our friend and colleague Anita Rutledge (née Barber) on Friday August 17, 2018 at the Wakefield Memorial Hospital.
A long-time resident of the village of Wakefield, Anita Rutledge grew up in the Clarendon district of the Ottawa Valley. After retiring from a career in communications in the federal government in 1985, she began applying her skills and experience to many local and regional heritage community initiatives. She had a passion for researching and writing about local heritage sites, for collecting documents and images of local interest, and for sharing and displaying them in a number of creative ways.
She was a builder and an organizer, having been a member of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society Board of Directors, the Wakefield Community Association, the Wakefield Covered Bridge Project Committee, the Fairbairn Museum Steering Committee and Board of Directors, the Heritage Committee of the Municipality of La Pêche, the Wakefield Cemeteries Pioneer Monument Committee, and the Wakefield Cenotaph Restoration Committee.
As a local author, Anita wrote four stories for the Up the Gatineau!, including a recent contribution in the 2018 edition titled “Remembering the Farms of Wakefield”. Her seminal article based on the reconciliation of two local religious congregations in “Les Suisses of Duclos", and the first story in the UTG! to appear in French, received the Arthur Davison Award in 2008. In 2012, Anita, with Norma Geggie, edited and published, Tributes: Gatineau Personalities and Historical Events, a collection of stories by Ernie Mahoney. Most recently Anita edited and produced the Wakefield River Walk/La Promenade Riveraine, a series of 8 historical interpretation panels which were installed in June 2018 along Wakefield's riverfront.
Anita volunteered at the GVHS archives and always found time to edit stories written by members of her family, her friends, and other local writers. In 2002 Anita was awarded a Honorary Life Membership by the GVHS for her contributions over the years to her community in promoting interest in the history and heritage of the Gatineau Valley. In 2013 she was awarded the Volunteer of the Year for Wakefield by the Municipality of La Pêche.
Anita will be remembered for her extensive knowledge of local history, the community connections she forged, for her thoughtful observations and wit, and a collaborative spirit which has led many Society members, volunteers, and supporters to follow her lead in preserving and making known the significant historical places and stories of the Gatineau River Valley.