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An account of local poet Kate Ruttan

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Every place has its characters and in the early days of La Vallee, Kate Ruttan was a figure known to everyone.

Although she told very little regarding her life before she came to La Vallee, she did have one daughter who was a teacher as Kate had been.

One distinctive feature about Kate Ruttan was that she always wore a heavy veil. Her face was rarely seen.

Kate was the postmistress at La Vallee for many years and had to meet the night train to receive the sacks of mail.

Kate also was a correspondent for the Fort Frances Times and was famous for her flamboyant, often humorous style of writing. “Charming Kitty” was how she referred to herself in these weekly columns.

Her home was called the “Reading Room,” and she also published a small book of poetry entitled, “Rhymes Right or Wrong of Rainy River.”

Though not many books sold, these little volumes are now collectors’ items. A more complete account of Ruttan’s life in La Vallee can be read in the township’s history book.

She took liberties with names and often made up words to rhyme, as in “Billy Boy and Bobbie Martin, Were speedy runners, sure and sartin.” Often she would lapse into a Scottish dialect: “Wull ye no hae a hope very Friday nicht, Walter and gie the wee winsome things a chance till ease their chillblains?”

She was entreating Mr. McFayden, an excellent fiddler, to have more dances.

Ruttan was a very social person and no item of news was too small for her to report on.

In essence, local history has been preserved through her writings. Generations to come will be able to walk the trails and hear the tales of pioneers of long ago.

Though Ruttan’s poems often were humorous, she did write some in a more serious vein. What a character she was!

  •  • • For those who have not gotten their copy of “Connections, the History of La Vallee Municipality,” you can get a copy from any centennial committee member, the Fort Frances Museum, Greensides Store, Dev-Lynne’s, and the municipal office. There are many centennial events planned throughout the year, with the big celebration being held July 2-4. Registration forms are out and they also can be downloaded from www.lavallee.ca Committee members are Ken McKinnon (486-3451), Freeda Carmody (486-3338), Sheri Stamarski (486-3535), Diana Mayes (486-0233), Maxine Hayes (274-6049), Don McCulloch (486-1201), Elizabeth Donaldson (482-3334), and Joyce Witherspoon (486-1153). Come out to La Vallee Municipality for “Fun Galore in 2004.”
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