Jacqueline M Webster
June 9, 1922 – October 28, 2019
Webster, M. Jacqueline (O.N.B.), Fredericton, N.B. died Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 at the age of 97.
A great lover of poetry, she paid heed to the words of Dylan Thomas, and did not go gentle into that good night. Her life was long, rich and full of the kinds of adventures most people only dream of.
In the end, she welcomed death with the same spirit of grace and hospitality as she did with just about everyone she met.
Born: June 9, 1922 Death: October 28, 2019
She was born on a warm spring day in early June 1922, and grew up in Covered Bridge along the fabled Nashwaak River. A descendent of the 42nd Highland Regiment, she was proud of her Scottish roots.
Even though she resented the red hair and freckles that came with her heritage, it was that same red hair that caught the eye of Lord Beaverbrook. During a chance encounter, he recognized a certain spark and sense of intelligence, and she would become the first woman in history to receive a Beaverbrook Scholarship.
Despite her long and successful life, Jackie Webster was not a woman who could be defined only by her accomplishments. True, she was a Beaverbrook scholar, journalist, entrepreneur, and storyteller, but she
was so much more than that. She had a keen sense of observation and was able to draw on her surroundings to elevate the mundane to the extraordinary.
She was curious about most everyone she met. She wanted to know their stories and, as often as not, knew more about them and their families than they did themselves.
She was arguably one of the province’s, perhaps the country’s, finest storytellers. She told tales of the Nashwaak, of the people she met during her decades long writing career, of her experiences as a young woman during the Second World War and the romances that ensued.
She held court wherever she went. For years she was a fixture at the Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton on Saturday mornings. Later it was the Webster Room at the Beaverbrook Hotel with her « Tuesday Club That Met on Wednesday ». In the summers she would hold court at her cottage on the Baie de Chaleur and was, anywhere or at any time, up for a game of Scrabble.
She had an interest in the world of everything and when she discovered a new facet of it, would share it with everyone around her with an almost childlike zeal. She was enthusiastic about the restorative qualities of ginseng, postage stamp restoration, the mystery of the hereafter and the art of hypnosis. Once she had discovered a new and amazing thing, she wanted everyone to know about it.
Among the passions that drove her and that she instilled in her « three girls » was her love of travel. During her university days she earned a World University Service of Canada Scholarship that allowed her to study in France for a summer. Years later, she would encourage her daughters to travel on their own, but her fear-of-missing-out led her on adventures with them throughout the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, South East Asia, and Central and South America. At the age of 87 she was on an adventure to Argentina that included a day-long hike trough the rainforest of Iguazu Falls on the borders of Brazil and Paraguay.
She told stories of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald at the brass rail in the bar at the Shepherd Hotel in Cairo, and enjoyed tiffin in her suite at Raffles Hotel in Singapore. She preferred the bustle and social life of hostels to the luxury franchises, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay at the legendary Raffles in a suite once occupied by Somerset Maugham.
She roamed through the jungles of Sri Lanka, the markets of Bangkok and the pagodas of Burma. She once took a taxi from Beirut to Aleppo to visit students she had met in Cairo, then on through Syria by bus to Istanbul. She was a woman who saw no boundaries between countries, so when there was a misunderstanding at the checkpoint between Costa Rica and Panama, she drove on through the border and enjoyed several fine days exploring Panama City and all it had to offer.
It was during the late 1960s that she embarked on a career in journalism at the Saint John Telegraph Journal. Never one to shy away from opportunity, in the early 1970s she packed up her typewriter and headed for the north shore of New Brunswick to write for a fledgling Bathurst Tribune newspaper.
The fiery politics and uniqueness of the Acadian culture inspired her to share her newfound treasures with all of Canada. Her stories were picked up by MacLeans Magazine, the National Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Star Weekly, The Times, London Daily Express, Vancouver Sun and other publications too numerous to mention.
When she arrived in Bathurst she found a cottage on the Baie de Chaleur that would become the place she called home. For 50 years, despite her travels abroad, long cold winters and times of financial insecurity, there was always « The Cottage ». It would be her touchstone, the family focal point and a place where she could find refuge from the sometimes harshness of reality. She used to say that if she could only last until she could get to the cottage to walk the sandbars, she would be okay.
The family joke during her later years when it would periodically look as if her health were failing, was that this would be her last summer at the beach.
She was not one to look for awards and accolades. Her reward was through her work and she considered each by-line to be recognition enough. That is not to say she went unrecognized. There were numerous articles written about her over the years. While a woman in journalism in New Brunswick at the time was not unheard of, it was an anomaly none-the-less. She was also a frequent guest on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside, and in her retiring years, she became one of the most well-known columnists in the province.
If space allowed, there would be many more stories. This is only a snapshot of a person’s life. Meanwhile, here’s a brief rundown:
She was a recipient of the Order of New Brunswick, the Eldred Savoie Award for Excellence and Dedication to New Brunswick Journalism, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the 1950 World University Service of Canada Scholarship and the Beaverbrook Scholarship. In her early writing days, she won a Writers Digest Fiction Award. The typewriter she received as first prize was used until it was replaced by a state-of-the-art IBM Selectric years later. Her last recognition, and one she valued highly was being named Writer-in-Residence at the Hospice House in Fredericton.
Jacqueline Webster is the daughter of Frank Webster and Lillian MacPherson. She was predeceased by her former husband Roland Brewer and brothers Monty and Scott Webster.
She is survived by her nieces Sandra Estey, Judy Bartlett, Nancy Daley and Heidi Webster, and a nephew, Scott Webster.
All of her family was important to her, but she considered her greatest legacy to be her daughters: Margot, Allison and Merredith Brewer (Richard Mann); grandchildren Justin, Jackson, Oliver, Will, Chris,
Cameron, Anna and Katie; and great grandchildren Harrison, Eden, Bodhi and Reggie.
The life and death of M. Jacqueline Webster will be celebrated in the Ballroom of the Lord Beaverbrook Crown Plaza Hotel, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 from 1 – 4 p.m.
In keeping with her wishes and the way she lived her life, there will be music laughter, story telling and maybe even a tear or two.
If you are able to be there, join with her family and friends on Sunday. It would mean the world to her to have you there.
Donations to the Fredericton Hospice House, where she relaxed in style following her last summer in the cottage she so adored, will be gratefully accepted. Personal condolences may be offered through www.yorkfh.com
Nos plus sincères sympathies à la famille et aux amis de Jacqueline M Webster 2019..
Décès pour la Ville: Fredericton, Province: Nouveau-Brunswick