| Mar 16, 2006


Feature Article - February 23, 2006

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Feature Article - March 16, 2006

A tributeto MaryLloyd-Jones

by Wilma Kenny

"That woman’s a nuisance, but she does do her homework," muttered one Frontenac County politician after a speech that persuaded him to change his mind, and vote in support of a county-wide library system which he had until then opposed. The woman to whom he referred was Mary Lloyd-Jones, first woman ever elected to municipal council in Loughborough. Mary was a brave woman who didn’t back down when the going got rough, and her persistence was a large factor in the beginning of the library network we now take for granted.

Mary died recently, aged 88. Born in Yorkshire, she and her husband Alun, a pharmacist, came to Canada with their children from Wales in 1953, and moved soon after to Sydenham, where she lived the rest of her life.

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It was typical of Mary to treat a barrier as a challenge: she entered local politics after she had been refused membership in the Sydenham Board of Trade because it was for businessmen, not women. A car crash left her terribly scarred, partially blind and forced to walk with a cane, but did not diminish her optimism, humour or energy. While her husband managed the drugstore, Mary took up farming. First, she raised sheep, going to battle with both the wolves that were killing her sheep, and the ministry of Natural Resources, whose officials claimed there were no wolves in this part of the province. The ministry finally backed down after Mary persuaded them to come witness a wolf pack hunting her flock, and Mary moved on to raising geese, then cattle. An avid gardener, she delighted in challenging the climate by growing the nearly impossible, and joyfully giving away handfuls of peaches and apricots. This interest led to her opening the village’s first flower shop.

Mary was farsighted, advocating water and sewage treatment for the village, affordable housing for seniors, and large playing fields for the schools, long before any of these things came about. She used her training as a social worker to quietly help many local people find their way through government bureaucracies and red tape to the help they needed.

After her husband’s death in ‘94, she withdrew from much of her community involvement, pouring energy into creative pursuits. She painted, sang, won prizes with her jams and pickles, read avidly and critically, (cookbooks and mysteries her favourites), took up house restoration, learned to use a computer and traveled to Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and across Canada and the US. Probably initially attracted by the name, she who rarely joined groups joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, and took great pleasure in reenacting mediaeval events in full costume. Not surprisingly, she proved to have excellent knowledge of the history of the period.

Mary was witty, bright, exasperating, strong-minded, imaginative and curious: hers was a life well and fully lived.

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