Parrywinkle December 1, 2016

Over the past 12 years or so here at Your Local Journal, one of the joys that I get from writing this weekly column is meeting, and reporting on, positive people and happenings in our fair burg. For sure, not always necessarily the stuff of Page 1. But always a vital part of what makes small towns with all their problems such as Hudson - real or imagined - a very special place in which to live and enjoy life.

Since my beautiful Sunshine and I moved here almost 40 years ago this Christmas, I have been privileged to have met some very special individuals who are also proud to call Hudson home. And who, in their own multi-faceted way, have shared in this vision.

One of them being Constance 'Connie' Middleton-Hope who, after 63 happy and busy years in Hudson and now in her 90s, is moving this very day, Thursday, December 1, to a new home at the Maxwell Retirement Residence in Baie d’Urfé.

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HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL - Caught up with Connie earlier this week to learn more about this very special lady and her reasons for moving. And in her inimitable style, albeit with a smile, she told me, “I am in my ninetieth year now. It's time. That’s all.”

Well, not quite Dr. Constance Middleton-Hope. For being the 'in-depth investigative' reporter that I am - and I cannot reveal my sources - here is what I have learned about Connie in recent days that I do believe her many friends and our readers would love to hear.

Connie was born Constance Irene Mackay on November 1, 1927, in her parents' apartment on Drummond Street in Montreal at five in the afternoon after her mother had been shopping at Ogilvy's all morning. And that she always thought it significant that she arrived at cocktail hour!

Having gone to school in Montreal and later at Marymount University in New York State, she would meet her late husband, Clark Middleton-Hope at a New Year's party in 1951 and together they looked in Hudson for their first home because Clark had a cousin who owned a cottage on Sandy Beach.

Married two years later, they held their reception at their new house on Hillside in Hudson Heights when Clark carried his bride over the threshold in true romantic fashion. At a time when Côte. St. Charles was unpaved. Milk, butter, and eggs were delivered to the house daily. And the Wilson Company still harvested ice from the river for the CPR.

Also that there were then three towns - Como, Hudson Heights, and Hudson - three mayors, and three councils. And that there were 10 trains a day to Montreal, starting at 6:30 a.m. and stopping at Alstonvale, Choisy, Hudson, Hudson Heights, and Como.

The couple would have three children, all born in Montreal as the Lakeshore General Hospital did not exist. And they all went to Lois Thompson’s nursery school in her home on Main Road, and then to Mrs. Moffat’s kindergarten in the Wyman United Memorial Church basement. Then to Hudson High for Grades 1 through 11 when they walked to school and back as the house on Hillside was less than a mile away and buses then only picked up youngsters who lived over a mile from their school.

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A REAL EDUCATION – Fascinated to learn that schools and education would go on to become the focal point of Connie's career from 1961 to 1988. First as a teacher at Macdonald High School, then vice-principal of Sunnydale Elementary in Stanstead, Quebec, the first woman ever to become vice chair of the Superior Council of Education of Quebec, secretary general of the Lakeshore School Board, and deputy director general of the Conseil Scolaire de l'Île de Montreal.

She would go on to work as program director for the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, found and become first president of Auberge Madeleine, a woman's shelter still flourishing in Montreal. Also La Passerelle helping professional job seekers find new employment.

And the list goes on. Including being president of Alliance Quebec in 1997 and, from 1998 until 2010, serving on the board of directors and then the executive of Centraide. And, in her 'retirement years', volunteering with the Hudson Historical Society, Hudson Village Theatre, and the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence in Como. Oh yes, from time to time, she could also be heard voicing her opinions - and in no uncertain terms - at Hudson Town Council meetings!

Enjoy your new home in Baie d'Urfe Connie where they also have their very own council meetings as I am sure you are very well aware, of course. Suffice to say that you will be sorely missed here in Hudson. And, as the old saying goes, don't be a stranger!

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COMING CHRISTMAS CALENDAR - And now to the continuing Christmas calendar here in Hudson and immediate environs. First up, the Hudson Merchants Christmas Market, organized by the Société de Développement Commercial d'Hudson runs from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre, 395 Main Road, on Friday, December 2, complete with a bagpiper playing festive tunes and a movie for the kids while you shop.

This Saturday, December 3, the St. Thomas Aquinas Ladies Auxiliary will be hosting their Christmas & Craft Sale from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in Reid Hall at 413 Main Road, with arts and crafts, decorations, assorted knitwear and, of course, their ever-popular bake table.

Also on the same day, at 7:30 p.m., the big band music of the 306 Maple Leaf Concert Band returns for the second year in a festive Christmas concert at St. James' Church Hall, 642 Main Road. Admission, which includes a wine reception at intermission, is a non-perishable donation for Le Pont/Bridging food bank plus a $20 ticket which can be reserved by calling (450) 458-5897 or (450) 458-5127.

Also at St. James' on Wednesday evening December 7, there will be the Greenwood Centre for Living History's presentation of the Greenwood Singers' Carols for a Mid-Winter's Night comprising a wide variety of music particular to the Christmas Season and readings.

Attendees are invited to Greenwood at 6 p.m. for coffee and dessert before the concert and St. James’ Memorial Hall for wine, cheese and dessert following the performance. In either case, the concert will start at 7:30 p.m. with net proceeds being shared between the church and Greenwood. Tickets at $25 each are available from Frank Royle at froyle@frank-royle.com or (450) 458-7316, May's Studio, Pure Art, or by reserving them direct from Greenwood at (450) 458-5396.

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FEZTIVAL OF CHRISTMAS TREES - A little further afield, on the West Island but benefiting families - and particularly youngsters - from throughout our region, the Karnak Shriners are hosting a very special fundraiser for their operations, the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal, and the transportation fund that enables them to bring youngsters in from other jurisdictions for treatment at the hospital. It is called the FEZtival of Trees and it's all happening at the Karnak Shrine Centre, 3350 Sources Blvd., Dollard des Ormeaux, at different times from Thursday, December 8, through Sunday, December 11.

Learned from Karnak Shriner, Gary McKeown, who also plays such a big role in bringing the St. Patrick's Day Parade to Hudson every year that local businesses have donated unique, fully- decorated Christmas trees which can be won by simply buying a raffle ticket. And not only will you win the tree, but also all the gifts contained in and under it. In addition, families are also offered a free photo opportunity with Santa. Ho, ho, ho!

For more info, go to wwe.FEZtivaloftrees.com.

And that's a Christmas wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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