From the Emerald Isle to the shores of the Madawaska River, Reverend Bob Hill made his mark wherever he went

Written by Toni Lavigne-Conway | Special to the Valley Gazette

A respected and much-loved member of the community and clergy, Reverend Robert (Bob) Hill died on Jan. 4 at The General Ottawa Hospital at the age of 93.

Although living for the past four years in Carleton Place, Bob was certainly no stranger to our area, having lived in Combermere since the mid-1980s.

Bob was born in the town of Ballyclare in Northern Ireland, about 20 km from Belfast. He was the son of a labourer named Frank and a very busy mother (Jean) who had 10 children. Bob was the baby of the family, and the last surviving sibling.

His great nephew Michael Stewart, who arrived in Canada this past Saturday for the very first time, said that except for his uncle Bobby and two of the Hill siblings, the family stayed and lived right in Ballyclare their whole lives.

“When my grandmother Mary (Bob’s sister) and their siblings were growing up, Ballyclare’s main industries were paper and linen and plenty of the young men worked in factories, including Uncle Bobby who worked at the Duke Spinning Mill.” Unfortunately, it is also where Bob lost a finger operating one of the machines. He left school after completing Grade 8 and was only 14 when he started at the mill.

In keeping with European culture, Bob was an avid footballer (soccer in North America), both as a player and a spectator. Throughout his life, oldest son Sean said his dad always watched the games, and when the World Cup was on, he was completely immersed in studying and analysing every part of the matches. “ As kids, wherever we lived, dad was involved in coaching soccer. He loved the game.”

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