Community Mourns Passing Of Local Icon John Curry

Longtime Stittsville journalist, local historian and school board trustee John Curry has passed away.

Curry was hospitalized last week in Almonte. According to an email from another veteran journalist, Nevil Hunt, Curry was not expected to pass.

“I am very sad to share the news that John Curry passed away this morning. He was in hospital in Almonte for the last week or so but was not expected to pass,” wrote Hunt. “Given his connections in Stittsville, John will probably be remembered with one of the largest funerals the community has ever seen.”

John Curry

Curry studied journalism at Carleton University. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1968 and followed that up with a bachelor of journalism honours degree in 1970.

His first job in the newspaper industry came more than a half century ago, when he took a job with the Arnprior Guide in 1970. Most journalists graduating from college and university programs began their careers at small town or rural newspapers and then worked their way up to dailies in bigger markets. Curry fell in love with small town journalism while in Arnprior. After two years in Arnprior, he moved to Elmira, north of Barrie, to take a newspaper position in that community.

In 1975, Curry jumped on an opportunity to purchase the Stittsville News for $6,000. He moved to Stittsville and worked on turning a dying publication into a successful business. He expanded the circulation of the Stittsville News into Glen Cairn and Stittsville, and the newspaper grew. It quickly became a weekly vortex of information and connection in Stittsville and the surrounding area, and helped connect the local residents to their community.

Man Of The Community

While Curry was a newspaper man through and through, he was also a man of the community. His service as an elected trustee on the Ottawa Catholic School Board spanned decades. As the Zone 1 trustee, Curry was the trustee for Catholic schools in the city’s Rideau-Goulbourn, Osgoode, Stittsville-Kanata, and West Carleton-March Wards.

In a 2020 interview, Curry told the Ontario Catholic Schools Trustee Association that his most memorable experience as a trustee involved Canadian Olympian Erica Wiebe.

“Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) alumni Erica Wiebe of Stittsville has become one of Canada’s most accomplished athletes,” he recalled. “Little did I know back in June 2001 when I presented her with the Leadership Award at her class’ grade six leaving ceremony at Holy Spirit Catholic School that 15 years later she would be receiving a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the Rio Olympics. Wrestling became her passion after she was exposed to the sport in grade nine at Sacred Heart Catholic High School. Erica became a Commonwealth Games champion, a University World champion, a six-time Canadian champion and a three-time CIS national champion. She earned two degrees at the University of Calgary as well. But her achievements are not confined to the wrestling mat or classroom. As an ambassador for Fast & Female as well as for Right To Play and Youth Education through Sport, she has spoken to thousands of youth about setting goals, staying true to values and female participation in sports. The city of Ottawa has named a gymnasium in Stittsville after Erica and the OCSB has acknowledged her accomplishments in wrestling and in the broader community by presenting her with its prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award.”

Curry also commented on how proud he was of the contributions made by local schools to the communities they serve. In particular, he was proud of the St. Mark High School canned food drive.

“Ottawa Catholic School Board high schools, each in their own way, give back to their communities,” he said. “St. Mark Catholic High School at Manotick has become famous for its annual canned food drive which will be held for the 31st straight year this school year. This is a city-wide endeavor involving hours of dedication by each and every student, all culminating in close to 50,000 canned food items being collected to provide to the less fortunate through food banks across the city. It’s a tradition that continues to give each year, not only to the wider community but to the students themselves, who learn the values of kindness, gratitude, inclusivity and hard work. Similar values are learned by Sacred Heart Catholic High School students who annually participate in a Catholic Education week cake auction. Over 100 uniquely decorated cakes fill tables in the school foyer. Classes bid on the cakes with funds donated by the students. The class raising the most money gets first crack at the cakes. This cake auction is a tradition at the school, now 20 years old. The cake auction annually raises as much as $30,000, with the money raised being dispersed to various agencies and charities.”

Curry also served on the Goulbourn Hydro Electric Commission from 1988-2000, when Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa took over Ottawa’s hydro services after the City of Ottawa and the neighbouring cities and rural townships amalgamated.

In 1991, Curry was named the Goulbourn Businessman of the Year award. Three years later, he won the Roger Griffiths Memorial Citizen of the Year Award. In 2009, Curry was the Goulbourn Citizen of the Year in the People’s Choice Business Awards sponsored by the Kanata Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, he received the Heritage Advocacy Award from the Goulbourn Museum. He is a former chair of the Goulbourn Township Local Architectural and Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC) and served on the city of Ottawa’s LACAC from 2001 to 2009.

Curry had a passion for local history and was very active through the years with the Goulbourn Township Historical Society and was a member of the board of directors for the Goulbourn Museum.

Curry partnered with Sandy Durocher of Stittsville’s Navigator Communications to produce a full-length documentary film on the history of Richmond released in 2018.

Curry sold the Stittsville News to Runge Newspapers in 2001. Runge then sold the publication to Toronto-based Metroland Media in 2005. Metroland eventually shut the newspaper down. While Curry remained attached to the publications after he sold them, he did resurrect his career as a local journalist when he joined the Kanata-Stittsville Community Voice when it launched in 2018. When the Community Voice restructured the following year, Curry worked for the Stittsville-Richmond Community Voice.