June 7, 2019
Port Credit Resident Feature: Arthur Kennedy
Arthur Kennedy was born on March 7, 1919, the third son out of seven brothers and three sisters. Next March he will mark his 100th birthday – not our first centenarian at Port Credit Residences, but the first of the male persuasion.
Arthur, and two of his brothers remained in the Port Credit area all their life. The small park beside the residence is named after his younger brother, Harold, and another park, on the Lakeshore is named after his older brother, Douglas. They were both lifelong politicians, Harold serving on local council and Douglas as a provincial Conservative.
Arthur’s father died young, at age 46, leaving his mother, Evelyn, with a large family to raise. She was a formidable woman and inspired a local author to write a book called “When Lightning Strikes” which describes his mother’s life. The book takes its title from the amazing and tragic fact that both her eldest and youngest daughters were struck and killed by lightning, forty years apart.
Arthur was always handy and had a mechanical aptitude from an early age. He graduated from Port Credit High School and received a scholarship to attend the University of Toronto where he graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1943. He remains a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario to this day. In the summers he had a variety of jobs, one of which was building houses as he was good at carpentry.
Due to the war, he was immediately sent for training with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Dauphin, Manitoba. He volunteered to go overseas and says he was lucky to wind up at the air force headquarters in London. As an engineer, he spent his whole war in England and rejoiced with all the Brits on VE day. He wasn’t through with the service yet, doing 7 more months in the RCAF near Hamburg, Germany.
In 1948, he returned to Canada and met his wife, Margaret Mathews. He and his brother Doug bought land on Camilla Road and each built a house, raising their families, side-by-side. Arthur was the manager of the Public Utilities Commission and was responsible for creating and overseeing the water distribution and purification system that everyone in the Region of Peel uses today, including purchase of the land where the water treatment plant still operates.
Arthur and Margaret had three children; Marilyn, who lives in Penetanguishene, Tom (B.C.) and Neil who lives near Elmira. Tom and Neil are also both engineers as are 2 of his 6 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. Education has always been important to Arthur and he continues to support family and his alma mater. Last summer he was privileged to attend the opening of a new Engineering building at U of T where the Arthur P. Kennedy media room was unveiled.
While he remained with the Region until his retirement in 1976, Arthur continued to work and is still involved in businesses that he and his brother, Doug, started in the 1960’s. They sold part of the land where they had built their homes and invested it in more property, this time in Oakville. Eventually those companies bought and developed land in Oakville, Erin and Norland. The companies are still active, mainly managed by his son, Neil, now.
In October 2013, after a major flood in 2013 filled the basement of the house on Camilla, ruining many precious books and 50 years of business records, Arthur moved into Port Credit Residences. His wife, Margaret, had died at age 80 in 2002. He researched and wrote various histories, including an article about the Port Credit Cenotaph, his family’s history in Dixie, his own father’s history, and a history about his uncle, Thomas Laird Kennedy, a former Premier of Ontario, and lifelong Conservative member of the provincial parliament. TLK, as he was known, helped Arthur’s family after his father died. Both Tomken Road and T.L. Kennedy High School are named after Arthur’s uncle and there is a special Premiers monument in Dixie Cemetery for him.
Aside from his interest in genealogy, Arthur has been active in the stock market, both personally and for Trinity St. Paul’s Anglican Church where, until recently, he managed the investments for the endowment fund. He used his engineering expertise for renovation and maintenance projects at the church although now it is more consulting than hands-on. His interest in history includes research about the graves at Dixie Cemetery and he personally restored several of the older gravestones that had been neglected.
Arthur is a keen follower of current events, and particularly those that affect the market which has allowed him to be enjoy some modest success with investments in the stock market. He reads the newspaper daily. He also enjoys his weekly game of bridge and occasionally plays cribbage with his brother Richard, who moved to Port Credit Residences from Peterborough a few years ago.
Port Credit Press
Guest Writer: Janet Kennedy