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Charlotte County's kindly curmudgeon, Jeane Mowatt, dies
by Chuck Brown

Funeral services will be held next week for Jeane Mowatt, a Charlotte County curmudgeon with a heart of gold who died in hospital Monday after a lengthy illness.

Mrs. Mowatt was well-known thorughout Charlotte County through her regular contributions to the local newspaper, the Saint Croix Courier. She was the paper's long-time correspondent from Bayside, the rural community near St. Andrews where she lived.

"Jeane had a heart as big as all outdoors," said Eileen McConvey, a friend of Mrs. Mowatt who also wrote for the Courier.

"It's a sad day for Bayside."

Mrs. Mowatt pulled no punches in her columns or her letters to the editor. Her weekly "View From Bayside" column went beyond the folksy reports about card parties, bake sales and family visitors. Mrs. Mowatt regularly used her space in the paper to throw stones at politicians and bureaucrats who she felt weren't doing enough for Bayside or Charlotte County.

She was blunt and abrasive but it was because she wanted to spark action that she felt would help the people of Charlotte County. She used her column to promote causes that were dear to her, such as the recognition and promotion of St. Croix Island as a historic site and the establishment of a mission for sailors at the Bayside Port.

"Jeane had a lot of good ideas," Ms. McConvey said. "She was ahead of her time. "

She helped establish the Champlain Christian Centre Seafarer's Mission at the Bayside Port. And before there was a mission, Mrs. Mowatt organized parties for sailors if they were in Bayside over the Christmas holidays. She collected items for gift bags and recruited local entertainers to play music and sing songs.

"She saw the real need," Ms. McConvey said, recalling standing around a Christmas tree on the Bayside wharf on one frosty Christmas for a party for sailors organized by Mrs. Mowatt.

"I really think that Jeane was a genius in her own right."

Another of Mrs. Mowatt's visions, however, was never realized. In the 1990s she pushed to have a community pool built at Fundy High School in St. George but it never happened.

And in 1997 she established the Friends of St. Croix Island in an effort to block the sale of a Bayside cottage that was once owned by the former prime minister, John Turner. She was outraged the cottage was sold for $500 when she wanted the property turned into a working, historic farm that would become a Loyalist tourist attraction.

As she often repeated in her columns and letters, she wanted "a major, world- wide tourist attraction" created at Bayside.

Her vision illustrated her pride in her community and her province.

Mrs. Mowatt, who was born in Beaver Harbour, was a fixture at Charlotte County events and could be seen at just about every craft sale, Chamber of Commerce meeting or political convention that happened in the region.

She was also an active member of the Bayside Women's Institute and a strong supporter of the Charlotte County SPCA.

Evie Gagne, the SPCA president, said Mrs. Mowatt raised thousands of dollars for the group by organizing craft sales and donating the profits.

"She was pretty strong willed and it benefitted us," Ms. Gagne said. Mrs. Mowatt's husband, Paul, died in 2002. He was born in Bayside and served as a police officer in Toronto for 25 years before the family returned to N.B. in 1979.

She is survived by her two sons, Michael and Patrick Mowatt, 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.

The memorial service will be held Wednesday, Oct. 13, from All Saints Anglican Church in St. Andrews.

SOURCE: The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (October 7, 2004).

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