Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is editor and publisher of the Stanstead Journal.
Posted 12.08.01
Stanstead, Quebec


La Madame

To most of our readers, the name Lucille LaRivière probably means nothing. But there is no one who has worked at The Journal these past 10 years who did not know Mme LaRivière - and it was always Mme LaRivière - even though I don't think she ever set foot in this building.

On Monday, our telephone correspondent from Magog, Mme LaRivière, died in her early eighties after a short but painful battle with cancer. And so we at The Journal are left to say the things that should have been said when she was alive.

For whatever reason, Mme LaRivière loved The Journal. From her condo bed ("My body's not working but my mouth is," she would say), she would call the office once a fortnight or so, letting us know what was on television at that moment - what George W. was telling his nation, what nonsense Lucien Bouchard was spewing forth. Mme LaRivière was the first person to call me at home the night Princess Diana died. I never knew what she expected The Journal, this small-town community newspaper, to do with this information, but we listened politely, offered a comment when we could get a word in, and let her get whatever it was off her chest.

Make no mistake: Mme LaRivière was no kook. She had, for instance, strong views on federalism and Quebec's place in it. She called herself not a "québécoise" but a "French Canadian." A proud one. She was fond of telling us, "If what they said was true about us French girls, we would all have been bowlegged." She also felt strongly about the role of seniors, how they could contribute to society, and what they could offer to "your generation." What she hated were those among her generation whose motto seemed to be "Qu'est-ce qu'on peut faire?"

Mme LaRivière knew what to do. She got on the phone, pitching ideas to The Journal, The Record, Le Reflet du Lac, Jean Charest's office, any place with influence. It's a testament to her perseverance, if not necessarily her success, that news of Mme LaRivière's death came to The Journal not from the obituary pages but from Orford MNA Robert Benoit's office. The staff there likewise knew the delights and the aggravations of phone calls from this unique woman.

I'm always reluctant to pay homage to one person when there are so many people who touch our lives and pass away. But Mme LaRivière was a woman who kept at it, even when her body was broken, and gave us at The Journal the occasional boost that let us know we were doing a "damn good job." We'll miss your calls, Mme LaRivière.