Memories and stories shared for Stittsville icon John Curry

(John Curry was selling his ‘Richmond’s Got Spirit historical book in 2019 at a community bazaar. Photo: Stittsville Central)

It was with a heavy heart that we learned the news on the morning of February 5 that John Curry has passed away the previous evening a month after his 75th birthday. John was a gentleman who many of us looked up to. He was a fountain of knowledge and always was willing to give his time to his community, organizations and committees. His input was invaluable. He cared for the youth of our community – his coverage of their successes at school, in sports, or community groups, proved it. John didn’t live by the clock – he lived for his next story.

We reached out to many in the community who have known John for years to share their thoughts, stories and memories. Their connection with John may have been through business, the organizations to which he was affiliated, a common interest in Goulbourn’s history, or just good friends. The honour for John in the words are poignant and confirm what we all know – John was a beautiful soul and will be deeply missed.

Shad Qadri, former Stittsville Councillor
A story teller, reporter, representative, teacher, community leader, historian and youth mentor. John Curry was always a dedicated community member to both Stittsville and surrounding communities. Whether he wrote about Ashton, Munster, Richmond or Stittsville it was always for the betterment of the community.

A blessing John was to media and the community. His pen always had truth and honour, and the betterment of the people and community in it, never a negative or poisoned word did he write.

His passion for his Goulbourn was evident in everything he did. Whenever and wherever his community needed him, he was there, to record history, report the news and honour the many amazing deeds and people of our community. John especially loved celebrating the youth of our community. Birthdays to graduations John, covered them all.

Decent, humble and always a gentleman, these are things I will always remember John for. He was always there to ask the right questions in a most unassuming way. He cares about getting the news out to the people with positivity to strengthen the community. This fact was really noticeable to me during my elected years as a city councillor.

Over the years, John quietly nominated many members of these communities, for deserving awards and recognition. Most of these individuals never did find out their nominators. Another reflection of John’s caring nature and his love for residents of the communities.

Most of all, John was a valued friend of mine and many! John will be missed, by his family and friends and also the communities that loved him and his passion. Individuals of many talents only come around once in a lifetime. We were blessed with John Curry and his love for our communities. Rest In Peace, Mr. John Curry.

The Goulbourn Museum Staff and Board
John Curry is one of the reasons the Goulbourn Museum exists. He was one of the original members of the Museum committee, an inaugural member of the Museum and he has sat on the Board of Directors since the Museum’s inception. He also has a legacy with his local history books.

Linda Preston, the Museum’s Chairperson has this to say about working with John, “John was so involved in keeping the history of the area alive. He might not have spoken a lot but when he did, what he had to say was so important. I relied on his counsel, he was just so ethical and was such a support to all of us (on the Board). He was kind. You never heard him say a bad word about anybody.”

Tracey Donaldson, Manager and Exhibitions Curator added, “When I think of the Museum I think of John – I can’t separate the two. He had such a presence in every aspect of it. He was so excited about history – it was his passion, and he had a wonderful sense of curiosity.”

The Museum will be taking some time to consider the best way to commemorate John and his commitment to the Museum and local history. “We don’t want to rush this. We’re giving it a lot of thought so it honours him appropriately and is something he would be proud of,” says Linda Preston.

Glen Gower – Stittsville Councillor
I am very sad to hear about John’s loss. It is hard to imagine what life in Stittsville will be like without John around to cover it. It feels like whenever I was for an event or something newsworthy, there was John with his notepad and his camera. Wherever something was happening in the community, John was there. He was such a kind and gentle soul with a great sense of humour. I know he loved to crack a joke or a good pun where he could.

A couple of things that stand out for me. How important it was to him to highlight the achievements of young people in the community, in particular high school students; whether it was in sports, or academics or entrepreneurship. John wrote often about youth in Stittsville and that stands out.

The other thing was a story. I remember I had a neighbour who moved to the community, I believe they were a military family from out East. They had attended the community winter carnival and John was there with his camera and his notepad. He took a photo of the family and then the next week they saw themselves on the front page of the newspaper. The family said to me that we really felt like we have arrived in the community, were part of the community, when we saw ourselves in the pages of the newspaper. Just that connection that John had with welcoming people and making people feel like they belong in the community. That was something he did through his story telling and I’m very grateful for that.

Tanya Hein – Past-President of the Stittsville Village Association
I met John when I was a young reporter in Carleton Place, more than 20 years ago. I admired his gift for sharing stories that made people and life in this area feel so special, but it wasn’t until after I moved to Stittsville that I realized how much of himself he invested into the community.

John was absolutely everywhere, not just preserving our detailed stories as a newsman, but also contributing his energy and perspective to so many projects and organizations. I don’t know how he managed to do so much, but he seemed to touch every part of Stittsville and the wider community.

John was a real gem — one of the kindest, humblest, most knowledgeable, and tirelessly dedicated people I’ve known— and it’s hard to imagine our community without him.

Allan Ryan – Former Goulbourn Councillor; Past-President of the Stittsville Business Association
I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn that John had passed away. He was not only a friend, but we worked closely together for 30 years. I have fond memories going back to when I was a Councillor for the former Goulbourn Township – John would be at every Tuesday meeting and report fairly on each. I worked with him to support and bring a Catholic high school to Stittsville. The day that Stittsville Village Square park was being created, John was out there in the mud getting the photos and story. When the Stittsville Business Association was started, John was a major supporter and advocate of the effort. He was our biggest community supporter for Goulbourn Township, Stittsville and the SBA.

John will sadly, sadly be missed and I cannot thank him enough for all he did through the years. We are worse off this week, than we were a week ago with John being gone. My deepest condolences to John’s family.

Theresa Qadri – Chair of the Stittsville Food Bank
John Curry – A Man of Integrity. John was a man who shared his intellectualism with every person he met. He was a fair and caring man with a great sense of humour and a love for journalism and his community. For any role I have been in over the last twenty years, John was always available to take down notes on a sheet of paper, folding his paper as he covered a story. He spoke to everyone, from the elderly to very young children with such grace.

This past Christmas, the Stittsville Food Bank had a young girl and her brother come in with food and a monetary donation. We sat them on milk crates surrounded by the food they donated and had them pose for a photo for the newspaper. John was always a great advocate for the Stittsville Food Bank.

On a funny note, during Villagefest, I “married” John Curry. We both dressed up in historical outfits and I became Mrs. Green, the hotel owner. The history of Stittsville is important to share with new and old residents.

John, I know that heaven is so very blessed to have you. You are the Guardian Angel of Stittsville.

Barbara Bottriell – Former President of the Goulbourn Township Historical Society
The passing of John Curry will be a great loss for our community. He seemed to know when every important event was taking place and would arrive to cover it whether it was a high school musical, a church supper, a hockey, basketball,
baseball or soccer tournament, or a graduation. All of them would turn up in the Stittsville News.

He was a shy man although he loved to play parts in theatrical productions. He seemed to have great fun creating historical characters like Robert Grant or Mr. Dowdall in a historical drama played at our former Municipal Building years ago. He was given a Life Membership in the Goulbourn Historical Society because of his never-failing attendance at the Society’s meetings and his detailed and prolific stories and articles on local history that appeared in the Stittsville News.

It will seem very strange not to see him around town. I will miss his quiet presence and will never forget how much he contributed not only to local history, but to the identity of Stittsville through his reporting of all the stories that make up the fabric of our community.

Judith Cox – President of the Stittsville Goulbourn Horticultural Society
It was with great sadness that I sent an email to members on Saturday about the death of John Curry. He was a special man. I remember when I was a young mother, many years ago, the absolute joy my children would experience seeing their school and accomplishments in the Stittsville News. When I worked at Saunders Farm, I would see him covering events and he would always take the time to say hello to me and chat.

John would cover or have someone cover every event the Stittsville Goulbourn Horticultural Society would have, and he delighted in taking pictures if you were a muddy mess in the garden. John was very special. I, and many others, will miss him very much.

Beth Lewis – The Stittsville District Lions Club
John joined the Stittsville District Lions in September 1988 and became a Honourary Member in May 2020. He and his camera covered all of our events – and we were well covered by the Stittsville News. He continued to support us when he moved to the Community Voice.

John was a very prominent resident of Stittsville and will be missed by all.

I remember John covering all the sports at Munster School while my children were growing up and also at my grand-daughter’s school events and all the Brownies, Girl Guides, and Pathfinders events held at the Munster School. He never missed a thing. He is irreplaceable.

Louise Beggs and family
Heartfelt Thanks to a dear Friend – John Curry in many ways was the wind beneath my wings in our community.

When our little family moved here in 1990, I was a young dietitian with one son. I saw an ad in the local paper and offered to serve as Library Board Trustee as a Catholic representative. To my complete amazement, it made the cover of the Stittsville News! With a photo! Then John went on to take photos of each thing I tried to do for the community: me as a witch, with my children, on the Library parade float at Villagefest; the Collective Kitchen; Nutrition month talks (afterwards, John very nicely said he had no idea nutrition could be so complicated, with the patience of a saint!), and more…then on to interview me as I tried to run for Municipal council in 1997. Then on Council, through Ice Storm ‘98; heated debates on the Goulbourn Recreation Complex; the new Firehall and Library; reviving Canada Day in 1998, and every birthday and anniversary I was blessed to attend as a Councillor. And no one can forget John dressed as our Mayor, Janet Stavinga, at her community thank you party (my husband still says John, no offense, had the “ugliest women’s knees” he had ever seen!). 

John was often the only “public” at our public council, library, Stittsville Village Association etc meetings, but he sat through them all, faithfully recording every important word to keep us all informed, every Wednesday morning when the Stittsville News came out. That was a sacred moment.

Our family too, like so many, was blessed with his kind attention… our Paul’s swimming, David’s football and Ben’s public speaking at Guardian Angel’s, my husband Bruce’s band concerts….births and deaths….Yoshi, our dog, and his Christmas gifts to ladies exiting prison…And on and on.

My slogan when I ran for Council was “I care about the community”. I did and I do, and John’s example and encouragement I know now, was the inspiration for my motto. Serving our community as Councillor is the job in my life, outside the home, that I am most proud of and most grateful for. In no small part, I thank John for this, with all my heart.

John gave inspiration to so many, I am but one.

So although words were John’s tools, and he built so much good with them, words now fail me, when I most want to thank him. We were still working on community things together…But God called, and you had to go, John.

Please know, John, that your beloved community loved and appreciated you. And love and appreciation never die. Your deeply grateful friend, Louise (and family).

Hélène Rivest
I have known John for over 20 years. He was one of the first people I met in Stittsville. That was when I volunteered with the Stittsville Village Association Canada Day committee. Over the years, I have interacted with John at many committees and events.

He wrote many books on the history of our community. I believe his guiding principle is always to inform and educate the reader about our community and its past. He is a master at story telling which goes a long way to do just that.

John is not only the very definition of community news but his knowledge of our community’s history is second to none. I cannot think of anyone who makes a difference or has a bigger impact in our community on a regular basis like John does. He has consistently done this for over sixty years and continues to do so today. He has his finger on the pulse of our community and writes about it like no other.

An example of his generosity is that he uses his considerable writing skills as a way to raise awareness in the community on a variety of topics. A second example, John is very active in our Church and arranged for the publication of our weekly Parish Bulletin for many years on his own. A third example is that John is so well known in our community, that whenever anyone has anything to pass along within the community, John is the first person everyone thinks about. He is trusted, dedicated, resourceful and fair. He perseveres when researching a story and goes on with the task unflustered. He is a role model for many young people who want to go into community news. He doesn’t just report on community news, he lives community news.

I am grateful to also count John as my friend.

Phil Sweetnam
John’s passion for knowing and telling the history of Goulbourn Township was greatly enhanced by his skill as a journalist. He was able to bring balanced perspectives to so many events.

John’s knowledge, skills, and tireless reporting, lead to awards for his journalism and video productions. For example, in 2019, the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa (FCA) presented its Excellence in Local Media award to “Richmond” The Movie” which John produced. In 2021, the FCA awarded John their Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his book Richmond’s Got Spirit, and his many videos about Goulbourn’s history, plus his many years as an editor of local newspapers. Also in 2021, one hundred and fourteen local community members made a submission nominating John Curry for the Order of Ottawa. They will apply again in 2022. John was an amazing journalist and, because of his lifetime of work, the history of Goulbourn has been scrupulously recorded.

Lesley McKay – Stittsville Central
I’ve known John for several years. We connected through the love of Goulbourn’s history and our community. John could always be called upon to ensure that a historical fact was correct – between the two of us all would be confirmed. I enjoyed writing about John’s epic historical movies and other activities while I was the Editor of the Goulbourn Township Historical Society newsletter. Reading his books always brought me to the era of his writings. I’m going to miss the opportunity of working with John to share the history of my Grandfather Parks in the ‘Stittsville’ book that John was researching and writing.

Managing Stittsville Central, I would often find myself at various events standing beside John with his camera ready and his pencil or pen poised above his scrap of paper. He was always the gentleman. We often used our ‘getting there early’ time to talk and share what each of us was up to. When he was taking his photos, he would say, ‘wait there’s another’ and would pat me on the shoulder to ensure I also got our photos. I’m going to miss that pat on the shoulder.

John was quiet and humble, but nothing gave him joy more than a good quip and his countering with a quick wit. This humour always brought a smile to his face and mine.

There are not enough words to express the heart-felt goodness that flowed from John. He brought out the best in people and our community. John, you are very much missed and I thank you for your friendship. Rest peacefully.


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1 thought on “Memories and stories shared for Stittsville icon John Curry”

  1. I’ve known of John for the last …well….since the 1970’s. He was not a talkative person. I had need to speak to him more than once, especially when I was looking for his advice when I was researching the one-room schoolhouses. I will miss him.

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