‘Always rooted for the underdog’: Community conservationist mourned

South Musquash resident Helen Marie Tremblay – daughter of the esteemed estuary advocate and environmental leader, Mabel Fitz-Randolph – has died. She was 89 years old.

Charlotte McCluskey described her sister as a “giving” person and a philanthropist who cared about investing in the future. In 2017, Tremblay and her son Daniel donated 87 acres of family land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

The endowment, added to the Musquash Estuary, was in memory of her mother, who, in 2007, received a lifetime achievement award in environmental leadership from the Province of New Brunswick, as well as her father, Albert Fitz-Randolph.

“When (Tremblay) gave, she didn’t go running after tax receipts,” said McCluskey, who is the youngest of three sisters. Her middle sister is Marguerite “Midge” Thompson.

Tremblay believed in “true charity” and “wasn’t a flashy person and always rooted for the underdog,” she said.

Of the land donations made by the family, Thompson said: “I think they wanted to make sure it stayed the way it was … We all loved it very much.”

All the sisters, who “grew up in the middle of 1,000 acres,” were raised to think of the future, added McCluskey.

Before marrying her late husband Maurice, Tremblay was a local license school teacher, who taught at the Garnett Settlement. She also drove a school bus for many years when her daughters were young.

Later in her life, she became a member of the Spruce Lake Women’s Institute, Citizens for Fort LaTour, and the New Brunswick Historical Society. She had a keen interest in history and in the museum, Loyalist House.

Tremblay was an avid reader and devoured everything about the Royals, according to her obituary. Her interests stretched beyond just the British royals. “She could hold you captive on royal genealogy for hours,” the obituary reads.

Tremblay and her mother were actively involved in establishing the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area, McCluskey said. She was also a member of the Coleson Cove Liaison Committee and Friends of Musquash.

“She had to be aware,” her youngest sister said. “She had to know what was going on around her. She wasn’t content to sip coffee and watch soap operas. That wasn’t her at all.”

Thompson said when she thinks of her sister, she thinks of her rescuing cats.

“If a stray cat ever turned up in her yard, it would go away with a full stomach,” Thompson said. “She really, really loved cats, and she couldn’t bear to see a skinny cat.”

In her spare time, Tremblay was also a talented seamstress and needlewoman. She had a passion for designing Barbie clothes.

In addition to her sisters, Tremblay is survived by her daughter, Louise Kovar, of Calgary; sons, Douglas Tremblay, of Saint John, and Daniel Tremblay, of Laval Que., as well as grandchildren, Ellen Kovar, Stephanie Kovar, A.J. Kovar, Matteo Tremblay, Milena Tremblay, Dino Tremblay, Sofia Tremblay, Sylvio Tremblay, Lindsay Tremblay, and Amy Tremblay, according to her obituary.

It adds her many feline friends “especially, Dit, Hissy, Goofy, Momby, Fuzzywuz, Orange Julius and Baby” will miss her, too.

TORONTO STAR