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PERSONAL INTEREST

Cultures of the Ottawa Valley - Terry Currie




Terry Currie was raised on his family’s homestead farm in what was then Fitzroy Township, Carleton County. He likes to say he was born in 1939 and raised in the 1920’s because the lifestyle of his childhood was one of subsistence farming with horses, wood heat and coal-oil lamps for lighting. The Currie’s lived on the farm settled in 1841 by their great-grandfather Pat, of County Fermanagh in Ireland. They lived in the house built by Terry’s grandfather at the end of the nineteenth century. His family were great story-tellers and many evenings were whiled away telling incidents and occurrences from the deep past by the light of the lamps.

Terry walked to  SS#3, Fitzroy Public School with all the other children of the neighbourhood; thirty-four pupils and one teacher. There was no lack of discipline and vigourous application of the strap to keep it that way. Afterwards, he attended Arnprior and District High School where he was a good student (except in mathematics) and a devoted member of the football team. He stood out in languages and history and won several scholarships which enabled him to attend St. Patrick’s College on Echo Drive in Ottawa. There he majored in English and History. His thesis was “The Irish in Canada.”

Terry embarked on a career as a high school teacher at Almonte District High School, where he was Head of the French Department and Head Coach of the Almonte Thunderbolts football team. He married Shirley Anne Jones of Britannia in Ottawa in 1965. They moved to the Currie farm with their four children and lived there a life that Terry describes as “idyllically happy”.

During the 1990‘s Terry wrote two parish histories for local churches. In 2002, widowed and retired, Terry Currie fulfilled a life-long dream by returning to the University of Ottawa  to obtain his Master of History degree. His Master’s thesis became his first publicly distributed book, “The Ottawa Valley’s Great Fire of 1870”. Since then he has written or edited two more books and a video documentary, “St. Peter Celestine Roman Catholic Church, Pakenham: the Jewel of the Ottawa Valley.” In 2011, as part of the Almonte Lectures series affiliated with Carleton University, he presented a lecture series at Almonte entitled “A History of the Ottawa Valley”. It was very well received.

At this writing, Terry is working on two projects: the first, a history of Chat Falls and Fitzroy Harbour, the second, a book version of his Ottawa Valley history.

Terry Currie still lives on the family farm with his friend Lucille Hilyer-Kean.

Terry is delivering the GEN7265 Cultures of the Ottawa Valley lecture series this term.