Of all the contributions Norma Walmsley made in her eventful life, the Wakefield Covered Bridge is the most visually striking reminder of her tremendous impact on the Gatineau Valley. When the original 1915 covered bridge was destroyed by fire in 1984, Norma’s reaction was, “Let’s get to work.” She rallied the community and worked tirelessly for ten years until this cherished landmark on the Gatineau River was back in place.
Norma was also involved in numerous other community projects, including the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, the Church of the Good Shepherd, and the Gatineau Memorial Hospital Foundation. A Second World War veteran from service in the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division (WD), where she was Senior Officer in charge of supplies for its personnel in Canada and overseas, she was an active board member of the Wakefield branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, and she helped restore the Wakefield Cenotaph with its new war memorial gardens in the village’s Peace Park.
While Norma was a leading light in her local community, she was also serving on numerous national and international organizations relating to international development and social justice. Too numerous to mention, her accomplishments have been recognized with the Order of Canada, honorary doctorates from Carleton and Brandon Universities, and a Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for outstanding contributions to the goal of equality for women and girls in Canada.
Video: The Woman Who Lost Her View. When arsonists destroyed the 1915 Gendron Bridge in Wakefield, Norma rallies the community to rebuild the cherished covered bridge. To view video click HERE [PHOTO: HELENE ANNE FORTIN]