Honoured by Anne and Mike, George and Carol, Cathy and Bill.
This is the story of our parents, Ken and Betty Valin, the descendants of two families who settled in North Bay in its infancy. Ken was the grandson of Judge Joseph A. Valin, an Ottawa lawyer who was appointed as the first judge of the Judicial District of Nipissing in 1895. Ken was born and raised in Sudbury where his father, George J. Valin and his brother Lloyd Valin, practiced law. His uncle, Hy Valin, practiced law in North Bay until his untimely death in 1935. Following his call to the bar in 1936, Ken came to North Bay as an associate with William Flannery, the successor to his Uncle Hy’s law firm. In 1944, Ken established his own law firm, currently known as Valin Partners. Over the years, the firm grew and prospered with several partners, including his two brothers-in-law, A. Thomas Smith and the Honourable Mr. Justice Bourke Smith; his dear friend, the Honourable Mr. Justice Spyros Loukidelis; his son, the Honourable Mr. Justice George T. Valin; and his son-in-law, William Brunton. Ken was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1961. Shortly before his death in October 1986, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him a certificate of life membership in honour of having practiced law for 50 years.
Betty Smith was the eldest of eight children of A.T. Smith and Anna Bourke. “A.T.” was a prominent North Bay businessman. Members of the Bourke family were also prominent in the early days of North Bay, holding the public offices of mayor and sheriff, and operating a well- known hotel. Betty met Ken while attending the University of Toronto where she obtained a degree in home economics. They discovered that the back yard of Betty’s family home on Main Street West adjoined the back yard of Ken’s grandfather’s home on McIntyre Street. They were married in 1937 and raised their three children, Anne, George and Cathy, in three homes located on the same block as their original family residences.
The practice of law by family members continued into two more generations. Anne’s husband, Mike Keenan, practiced law in Sudbury. Their daughter Elizabeth is a lawyer in Toronto. George was Ken’s law partner and was appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 1990. Cathy’s husband, William Brunton was also Ken’s partner and continues as the senior partner in the firm. Their son Andrew practices law in Kelowna, B.C.
Ken and Betty loved North Bay and were both active in community organizations. Ken was a member of the Civic Hospital Board for 20 years and served as its chair for 10 years. He was a long-time member of the Lions Club and also served as a director of the North Bay Golden Age Club for several years. In 1957, Ken was part of a small group of investors who successfully established CKGN, the first television station in North Bay. He was a wise, compassionate, quiet, polite and cheerful person. His professional colleagues and close personal friends often referred to him as “the Silver Fox”, a tribute to his ability to figure out a way to make things happen but never seek credit for his success in doing so. His character and integrity were appreciated and admired by his family, friends and colleagues.
Betty was a beautiful, kind, generous person, always eager to help others. Her smile and sparkle were engaging, and her love of life was addictive to all who were fortunate to know her. A compassionate person, she always thought the best of other people and wanted the best for them. She instilled in her children the importance of family ties and heritage. She spoke her mind, often giving us frank advice and guidance. She was an active member of the CWL and IODE for several years, enjoying theatre, curling, bridge, gardening and cooking in her spare time. Her gardens at home and at the cottage on Trout Lake were spectacular, and her gourmet cooking was genuinely appreciated at family gatherings and at the dinner parties she held for friends. She also prepared and delivered wholesome food to those less fortunate. As a breast cancer survivor, Betty shared her positive attitude and strength of character, devoting her time and energy to supporting cancer patients. She inspired so many with the dignity, grace and joy she brought to every situation.
Ken and Betty loved to travel. Their trips took them to countless cities and countries around the world, but each trip ended with the sentiment that they were so happy to be back home. They enjoyed their condominium at Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida, where they made numerous new friends. Ken enjoyed fishing and boating there with his brother Lloyd. Betty pursued art and continued her reputation as an extraordinary cook and hostess at dinner and cocktail parties.
They were always refreshingly forthright. They were a confident, loving, fearless, happy, encouraging, generous, optimistic and beloved couple. They loved their three children and eight grandchildren, Carolyn, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Jeffrey, Joanne, Peter, Andrew and Matthew. Their devotion to their family was their legacy. Our parents were the masters of our happiness and the foundation for the success we have enjoyed. Together, they embraced life as a big adventure, inspiring us to live our lives to the fullest and to be thankful always for the gift of being raised in such a beautiful community and great country.