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Long-Time Courier Correspondent
Was A Driving Force In Bayside

by Barb Rayner

BAYSIDE - Whether it was taking gifts to visiting sailors at the port of Bayside or raising money for the Charlotte County SPCA, Jeane Mowatt was always helping someone out.

    The long time Courier correspondent who penned her View From Bayside for this newspaper for six years died at Charlotte County Hospital Monday following a period of ill health.

    It was Mowatt, together with her late husband Paul who died in 2002, who first began visiting the sailors who came into the port and were the driving force behind what is now the Champlain Christian Centre Seafarers’ Mission (CCCSFM), said Lee Miller, the current treasurer of the CCCSFM.

   "She started on her own when she found out there were ships coming, at that time mostly from Cuba, and the seafarers didn’t really have any connection with the area at all.

   "She would go around to the stores and different businesses and ask them to donate items so she could make up little bags of gifts and would go down there to meet them and present them with the gifts."

   Miller said Mowatt would also organize people to go on board at Christmas time and New Year’s and they would have little parties on the wharf. When it became known what was going on, she said, people would contribute money to help out.

   "At Christmas time she would buy food and donate it to them so they could have a Christmas dinner. She kept track so she knew when there was a ship coming in.

   "They were the ones doing all the leg work and the organization and she was wonderful that way. She didn’t mind asking people to donate and she donated a lot of money herself as well as her time."

    It was for her work with the visiting seafarers that Mowatt was nominated for one of ATV’s Maritime of the Week awards.

   After the Mowatts got more people involved in helping the seafarers the CCCSFM was eventually formed, said Miller who added, "It was her baby right from the start. I don’t know if it would ever have come to fruition without her support.

   "She was such an inspiration and was often outspoken about how she thought things should go. At meetings she would make sure she put her ideas forward. Jeane was sorely missed when she was not able to do any more."

   From those early beginnings the CCCSFM has grown so that the group now have a building at Bayside where seafarers can relax, play pool, have coffee and e-mail home. Last week they also added a baby barn so they can store donated items.

   Miller said they collect stuffed animals for the seafarers to take home to their families as well as warm clothing for those visiting from warmer climates who are not used to the cold weather.

   Another cause close to Mowatt’s heart was animal welfare and Charlotte County SPCA president Evie Gagne said she raised thousands of dollars for the organization.

   "She was a great supporter. She was a very kind hearted person who cared a lot about animals and went out of her way to help us specifically.

   "Her speciality was organizing yard sales. She was the lead person and we helped her out. A couple of them raised over $1000. We really appreciated all of her help and we are sad to hear she has gone. She was a powerful force and she got things organized. It was great to have her help us."

   Although she never actually adopted an animal from them Gagne said Mowatt took care of a lot of strays cats around her property and, in fact, she herself has one who came from the Mowatt’s shed.

   "She really tried hard to do right by all the animals that she came across. She was pretty busy."

   Janet Theriault, a fellow Baysider, said both Paul and Jeane helped out with other local residents with the building of the Bayside community hall hammering in nails alongside other volunteers. She said Mowatt was also a lifetime member of the Bayside Women’s Institute and had been one of their first members.

   "She was a good neighbours. She was always friendly and outgoing," added Theriault.

   Mowatt often took on causes and one of those was to try to save the former Turner property at Bayside overlooking St. Croix Island. Her vision was to see the property preserved as an historic site and used to promote tourism in the area. She organized awareness and fund raising events but in the end the property was sold and moved lock, stock and barrel to Moncton. Another project she supported wholeheartedly was the Charlotte Aquaplex which, unfortunately, has never come to fruition.

   Her son Michael said he can recall both her and his father helping with the construction of the Bayside community hall and added, "I can still remember my Dad and Mum down on their knees - even at the age they were - hammering in hardwood floor."

   His mother grew up in Pennfield where she taught school then she and Paul moved to Toronto in 1954. His father went to work for the Metro police while his mother worked in banking. Even in those days he said his mother was always busy organizing fund raisers for some cause or another.

   Both his parents were involved in Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, he said, and his mother was Akaela at one time. He said she organized one of the first ever Cuborees which was held on Centre Island and troops attended from all over Toronto.

   "When we were born she stopped working to look after us and then when we were of an age to be involved in these things that was when she started doing that. We had a cottage on the lake and just about every week we would go up there for the weekend. That was a great time."

   The Mowatts moved to Bayside to the old family homestead in 1979 when Paul retired from the police force. They became involved in scouting here in Charlotte County as well and pretty much started the movement in St. Andrews, he said.

   Mowatt was also very active in politics. She freely admitted that she had joined all the parties because she wanted to know what they stood for and would often expound her views in her weekly column. Her son said she was more interested in the candidates themselves than in the parties.

   His mother will also always be remembered for her love of bingo and yard sales, he said. She played bingo about three times a week and loved to take in the local yard sales. In fact, said Mowatt, his mother was instrumental in starting the town wide yard sale in St. Andrews.

   "She was a constant junk collector and most of the stuff she got was frogs. We have a big collection of them here."

   She is survived by sons Michael and Patrick of Bayside, her sisters Charlotte Brown of Beaver Harbour and Eunice Fraser of Lake Utopia, her brother Herbert Justason of Beaver Harbour and her granddaughter Heather Greenlaw of Bayside.

    Mowatt’s funeral service will be held at All Saints Anglican Church in St. Andrews Wednesday, Oct 13 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations to the Champlain Christian Centre Seafarers’ Mission.

SOURCE: The St. Croix Courier (Friday, October 8, 2004) - used with permission.

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