Author Helen Petchey named to Keillor House Wall of Fame

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Joan LeBlanc
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Author Helen Petchey was named to the Dorchester Wall of Fame on Saturday during a special ceremony held at the Keillor House Museum. Shown here during the Wall of Fame ceremony are, left to right, Petchey, Mayor J.J. Bear, junior mayor Ryan Cadman, and Westmorland Historical Society member Margaret Patricia Eaton. LEBLANC PHOTO

DORCHESTER, NB - Author Helen Petchey has been named to the Keillor House Museum’s Wall of Fame.

At a ceremony held on Saturday in conjunction with the museum’s annual official opening, Petchey, a one-time resident of the village and author of 18 books, many of them about the Dorchester area, was honoured for her contributions to the historical preservation of the region.

“It’s really appropriate that Helen is the recipient of this year’s plaque on our Wall of Fame because it was Helen’s suggestion that we create the Wall of Fame, about five years ago, to honour the late Douglas Howe…that plaque is now in the Memorial Library here in Dorchester…”, Westmorland Historical Society member Margaret Patricia Eaton said her introduction.

A teacher, librarian, historian and author, Petchey moved to Dorchester as a young child with her family; she later graduated from Dorchester Superior School in 1939. Attending the

University of New Brunswick, she earned Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees there; she also was awarded a Diploma in Education from the University of London.

Petchey was later both a teacher and librarian in a number of New Brunswick schools. She retired some years ago as librarian at Simond’s High School in Saint John and after living in Sackville for several years, she recently relocated once again to the Saint John area.

As a life member of the Westmorland Historical Society, after her retirement from the teaching profession, Petchey embarked on a second career as a writer. She has researched and written 18 books, meticulously researching each one.

“In recognition of her work, she received the American Association for State and Local History Award for excellence in 1993, the key to the Village of Dorchester in 2001, the Dorchester Memorial Library literary award in 2001. In 2013 she moved to Quispamsis, taking with her fond memories of her beloved Shiretown,” Eaton said.

Petchey spoke of her debt of gratitude to the late author and former Dorchester resident Douglas Howe, who was also a close childhood friend. She also noted her thanks to Sylvia Yeoman, a former Dorchester resident and long-time proponent of the Keillor House Museum. Yeoman was honoured as a Wall of Fame recipient in 2013.

Petchey said she feels the book entitled ‘Two From Amherst’ – E.B. Chandler and Alexander Stewart, is her most important work.

“Sylvia Yeoman was an enormous help to me when I wrote about E. B. Chandler, Father of Confederation. She told me about his house, about it’s architecture, about the people who had lived there, and without her I would not have been bold enough to write about such a distinguished Dorchester citizen…It think it’s worth reading and worth knowing about,” she said.

Petchey thanked the Westmorland Historical for the honour of being name to the Wall of Fame.

“There are many other things that I would like to say about Dorchester. I am more than pleased to be here today and to take part in this ceremony. When I wrote about all those eminent lawyers and intrepid seamen and county councillors and very special people, they were the keepers of the public confidence. They contributed to them, responsibilities, many and great,” she said.

Organizations: Keillor House, Westmorland Historical Society, Dorchester Superior School Diploma University of London American Association Dorchester Memorial Library

Geographic location: Dorchester, New Brunswick, Saint John Sackville Amherst

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