Community loses a piece of its heart and soul

 Philip Conway passes away at 75 years of age

Staff Reporter

BARRY’S BAY – It is hard to imagine a person in the community that has not been touched by the generosity of Philip Conway.

He has worked on numerous committees, and through his involvement with the Madawaska Valley Lions Club, has donated more than one million dollars to organizations and people around the valley.

Nothing could seem to slow the energetic 75-year-old down. Even when he was fighting for his life, he took the time to make sure all of the Timberfest festivities were perfectly planned.

But sadly on March 27, the dedicated Madawaska Valley councillor, avid volunteer and professional businessman lost his battle with cancer.


Philip Joseph Patrick Conway was born on May 8, 1936 in Barry’s Bay. He was the son of the late James Whelan Conway and Catherine Irene (née Kruger.)

He grew up in a house near the Church of the Epiphany, and shared it with nine of his siblings – Raymond, Mary, James, Pearl, Omer, Neomi, Catherine, Bernadette and Cecilia. Philip was the fourth youngest child.

Cecilia Conway fondly remembers her brother as the one that was the “life of the party.”

“He was a wonderful brother and he was compassionate and kind,” Cecilia said.

But he was also a passionate entrepreneur. When he was only a young boy, his very first job was selling newspapers.

As he got older, he started collecting frogs and selling them to the American fishermen that made their way up to the valley in the summertime.

John Hildebrandt, former mayor of the Township of the Madawaska Valley, grew up in a house across the street from the Conways. He remembers playing with Phil when he was young. Around the same time Philip started his frog business, Hildebrandt started one as well.

“We were in competition with each other,” Hildebrandt laughed. “We thought it would be better if we joined forces.”

The budding businessmen were so successful that they eventually hired ‘contractors’ to go out and collect the bait on their behalf. Philip, who was known as ‘Flipper’ by his friends, and Hildebrandt were the salesmen and could be seen down the streets earning a pretty impressive salary for those times.

“I had more money then, than I do now,” Hildebrandt chuckled.

Philip graduated from St. Joseph’s school in Barry’s Bay, and then attended St. Andrews College in Killaloe to complete Grade 13.

Cecilia said through these years, he worked for his brother Raymond, pumping gas at his garage on the main street.

When he was around 19 years old, he started his teaching career with St. Martin’s Separate School, where he taught Grades 8 through 10.

It was there that he met his wife, Helen (née Cannon) of Maynooth. They were married on August 19, 1957 at St. Ignatius Martyr Church in her hometown.

Philip held a degree in arts from St. Michaels College, which is now the University of Toronto, and a teaching degree from the Ontario College of Teachers in Peterborough.

In 1958, Philip earned a teaching position at St. Peter’s High School in Peterborough, where he taught physics and physical education.

His sister Cecilia said throughout the years, Philip never lost touch with his family or with his roots.

“He never forgot my birthdays or Christmas or Easter. He was great,” she said.

During the summer months, he would work as a personnel officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources in Algonquin Park for 12 consecutive summers.

Throughout the years, the couple welcomed four children to the world, including Michael, Elizabeth, Colleen and Peter.

In 1968, Philip wanted a change of pace and took a supervisor position with Sovereign Life Assurance. Then in 1969, he was promoted to manager, where he remained until 1977.

That year, he became the superintendent of agencies with the company. He was in charge of Ontario and Western Canada.

In 1978, he switched to Crown Life in Toronto, where he was an agency development manager, and in 1979 to 1984, he was the manager at Crown Life Insurance Company.
Since Philip had such strong connections to the area, the family decided it was time to move back to Barry’s Bay.

Flash forward two years later, and the couple decided to purchase the Barry’s Bay This Week newspaper from then-owners William and Inez Beohme in 1986.

Story continues in the April 5, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.