Published in The BANAR September 2015 by Laura Dudas.
Lois Kemp has been described as Blackburn Hamlet’s “matriarch”; an original resident who dedicated her life to her family, her friends and her community. Lois passed away peacefully in her home on July 16 after suffering from a stroke.
“She was forward-thinking and always looking to the betterment of her community. That was her nature,” said Eleanor MacQuarrie, Lois’ friend of 50 years. “She always believed that if people live in a community, they should contribute to the quality and value of the things around them.”
Mrs. MacQuarrie is no stranger to giving back to the community. Also, considered to be one of the Hamlet’s leading ladies when it comes to being a community advocate and volunteer. She is also the widow of former Gloucester Reeve and Ottawa-Carleton Councillor Bob MacQuarrie.
“Lois was dependable, straightforward and always full of ideas,” said Mrs. MacQuarrie. Lois didn’t just come up with ideas for improving her community, she brought them to life—even if it meant having to go to bat for them.
“Lois was an inspiration in community involvement. She was always ready to lend a hand or provide advice, but was not shy to criticize, when warranted,” recalled former City Councillor Rainer Bloess. “Lois frequently showed her feisty side, putting Gloucester City Council in its place when she disagreed with decisions at city hall.”
Her volunteering and pioneering spirit knew no bounds. She was involved in bringing ringette to Gloucester in the early 1970s, she founded the BANAR, the Fun Fair, and helped establish Girl Guides in the community. She was a Sunday school teacher, a school trustee, and a mom of seven children, who have grown up to be just as invested in their community as she was.
Lois was proud of the community’s roots and she was an active member of the Gloucester Historical Society. She was honoured by the Blackburn Community Association in 2007 when she was asked to be the Parade Marshal for the 40th edition of the Fun Fair.
Lois was an inspiration. She took her ideas and ran with them and, so doing, inspired those around her to do the same. The result is this wonderful community of Blackburn Hamlet we all know today.
“Somehow she could take that drive she had in her and instill that drive in you,” said her friend of 60 years Bob Presland. “She did so much for the community and for all those who live here. She was the driving force behind getting the community going and she never stopped trying to make it better.”