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A fond look back at ‘ The First Lady of Cape Bre­ton’

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - Dolores Camp­bell Dolores Camp­bell was one of Ann Terry's many faith­ful lis­ten­ers who ap­pre­ci­ated Terry's unique con­tri­bu­tion to Cape Bre ton. She lives in Syd­ney.

A fond look back at the ‘ The First Lady’ of Cape Bre­ton.

It was 30 years ago and Holy An­gels Con­vent was cel­e­brat­ing 100 years since its found­ing as an all-girls school in the heart of Syd­ney.

When for­mer stu­dents and teach­ers came to­gether for the cel­e­bra­tion, miss­ing from that large group was one of Holy An­gels' most fa­mous grad­u­ates, a woman who had be­come a star in Cape Bre­ton and was of­ten re­ferred to as ‘ The First Lady of Cape Bre­ton.’ Her name was Theresa MacLel­lan, but she was bet­ter known as Ann Terry.

Un­for­tu­nately, Terry had passed away on June 15 of 1985, and her loss was felt not only by fel­low Cape Bre­ton­ers but by friends and ad­mir­ers well be­yond this is­land.

Her fu­neral, an evening liturgy cel­e­brated at her home parish of St. An­thony Daniel, was filled to ca­pac­ity de­spite rain that lit­er­ally poured from the heav­ens. Weather aside, the evening ser­vice, a first for the area, made it pos­si­ble for those who might have been un­able to at­tend a day­time ser­vice, to join hun­dreds pay­ing their re­spects to a woman many of them had prob­a­bly never met but who had been a welcome pres­ence in their lives for 18 years.

A 1941 grad­u­ate of Holy An­gels, Terry was very in­volved in drama and pur­sued her in­ter­ests in English and speech at St. Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity, be­gin­ning her broad­cast­ing ca­reer at CJFX with a pro­gram called ‘Terry Tales.’

Hav­ing adopted the name Ann Terry, she re­turned to Syd­ney in 1954 where she suc­ceeded Betty Brown as host of CJCB's women's morn­ing pro­gram.

Blessed with a re­mark­able, made-for-media voice and a larger-than-life per­son­al­ity, Terry's was a unique pro­gram mainly be­cause she was a unique woman – in­tel­li­gent, out­go­ing, per­son­able and with a great sense of hu­mor.

She had the ca­pac­ity to laugh at her­self. One of her sto­ries in­volved wait­ing at a traf­fic light when a truck pulled up be­side her and the driver leaned out the win­dow to call “Hey Beans” at her. This, of course, was a ref­er­ence to a TV com­mer­cial for Graves Beans, which spon­sored High So­ci­ety, a lo­cal TV pro­gram she em­ceed in­volv­ing high school stu­dents.

Although she ap­peared regularly on lo­cal TV shows, her forte was ra­dio as she re­galed loyal lis­ten­ers with sto­ries and com­men- taries on mat­ters of in­ter­est to them.

Terry's pas­sion for Cape Bre­ton and her drives around the is­land pro­vided her with plenty of anec­dotes to share with her au­di­ences. Her favourite phrase “Be­lieve you me, homemak­ers” al­ways pre­ceded an in­sight­ful ob­ser­va­tion on some­thing she had en­coun­tered, of­ten dur­ing one of her ex­cur­sions.

Terry be­came known Canadaw­ide through her ap­pear­ances on Front Page Chal­lenge, while at home she cov­ered royal vis­its, in­ter­viewed vis­it­ing VIPs, and served as master of cer­e­monies for many com­mu­nity events.

High­lights of her time with CJCB were open­ing nights of Ro­tary Shows, a mu­si­cal main­stay in Syd­ney for many years, bring­ing in tal­ent from larger cities who joined with Ro­tar­i­ans and other very tal­ented lo­cal per­form­ers to bring a taste of Broad­way to Syd­ney. Terry's in­ter­views with per­form­ers and de­scrip­tions of what the well-turned-out, in­clud­ing her­self, were wear­ing to open­ing night were al­ways an in­te­gral part of the per­for­mance.

Terry loved mu­sic and her lis­ten­ers were ex­posed to ev­ery­thing from Chopin to the Clancy Broth­ers whose ap­pear­ance in Syd­ney ob­vi­ously cap­tured her heart.

Her sup­port for ev­ery­thing Cape Bre­ton was

heart­felt and ob­vi­ous, and her en­cour­age­ment for lo­cal tal­ent and for those at­tempt­ing to sell the is­land as a tourist at­trac­tion made her a nat­u­ral for the po­si­tion of Di­rec­tor of Tourism which she as­sumed with DEVCO, the Cape Bre­ton De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion in 1972.

In 1980, she was named Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate Af­fairs, a po­si­tion she held un­til her death in 1985.

Terry's re­sume in­cluded be­ing a found­ing mem­ber of the Fed­er­a­tion of Univer­sity Women and the first fe­male mem­ber of the St. F.X. board of gover­nors, as well as an honorary mem­ber of many Cape Bre­ton or­ga­ni­za­tions.

What en­deared her to Cape Bre­ton­ers was that she was in per­son ex­actly what she was on air, open and friendly and in­ter­ested in the many peo­ple who met her ca­su­ally or whom she in­ter­viewed in her ca­pac­ity as a ra­dio or TV host.

It was fit­ting that the Ann Terry Pro­ject, es­tab­lished by the Ann Terry So­ci­ety in 1986 in her mem­ory, pro­vides coun­selling ser­vices to as­sist women seek­ing em­ploy­ment, es­pe­cially “those re-en­ter­ing the work­force” by as­sess­ing their abil­i­ties, in­ter­ests and skills, as well as of­fer­ing help with re­sumes and re­fer­ring clients to job va­can­cies.

Terry would be more than pleased to know that this or­ga­ni­za­tion has made it pos­si­ble for many women to use their tal­ents to es­tab­lish ca­reers and gain­ful em­ploy­ment, all of which ef­forts are in keep­ing with Terry's con­cern for the peo­ple of the is­land she so loved.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Theresa MacLel­lan, aka Ann Terry, was blessed with a re­mark­able, made-for-media voice and a larger-than-life per­son­al­ity. Terry be­came known Canada-wide through her ap­pear­ances on Front Page Chal­lenge

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