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Publication: Globe and Mail, The
Issue: 17 November 2010, page L8
Title: Lloyd Allison Duchemin (Lives Lived)
Web Link: link
Lloyd Allison Duchemin
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Professor of English, fly fisherman, gardener, storyteller, family patriarch. Born Dec. 6, 1908, in Sydney, N.S. Died Dec. 30 in Ottawa of natural causes, aged 101.
Lloyd Duchemin was a beloved teacher and scholar who inspired generations of high school and university students with a passion for literature. Although he was a shy and modest man and preferred to avoid the limelight, he was naturally gifted and authoritative in the classroom.
Lloyd was the youngest son in a family of eight children. His father was the editor and publisher of The Cape Breton Post. Both parents were originally from Prince Edward Island, but even though Sydney, N.S., had become their home, the family maintained a close connection with their roots in Charlottetown and especially Bay Fortune. Lloyd returned there every summer until he was in his 90s, and his skill as a fly fisherman in his beloved Fortune River was legendary. He could strip down a broken outboard motor and piece it together again with unerring precision.
Lloyd was educated at Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, where he received his MA and eventually his PhD degrees. He started his career at Sydney Academy in 1929, where he taught English, Latin, German and even mathematics.
While teaching at Sydney Academy, Lloyd fell in love with Carmelita, a talented schoolteacher with a degree in biology and a fiery temperament. She was also a skilled amateur actress – Lloyd proposed to her after witnessing her performance in a Greek tragedy. They were married in 1940 at her home in Wolfville, N.S.
In 1947, Lloyd was appointed head of the English department at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., where he presided until his retirement in 1974. He enjoyed the life of the small university town where he and Carmelita raised their three children, Parker, Jane and John.
Lloyd and Carmelita were both passionate individuals who shared a love of literature, classical music and the visual arts, and they remained devoted to each other, to their children and their grandchildren. In 2003, with Carmelita’s heath declining, they moved to Ottawa to be closer to family. Lloyd cared for her with profound tenderness until her death in 2005.
Lloyd’s astonishment was enormous when, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, he was presented with scores of tributes from former students who vividly remembered his Shakespeare, Milton, Austen or modern literature courses. “I didn’t think any of them would remember me,” he admitted.
Lloyd believed deeply in the power of literature to awaken our understanding of the human condition, a belief that sustained him to the end of his life. When Milton’s Paradise Lost was read to him at the age of 98, after he had lost his eyesight, he could quote from memory all of its most famous lines. His family miss his love, his stories, his laughter, his poetry.
By Parker Duchemin, Lloyd’s son.