Well deserved recognition to an outstanding community volunteer

After residing in the same house at the corner of Cunningham and Alta Vista Drive since 1950, Dorothy Valliant has decided to move “up the street” to Oakpark. On April 21st, 2013 neighbors, community members and friends gathered at an Open House to celebrate this stellar community activist, fine friend and amazing renascence woman. Hosted by neighbors Ruth and Gerald Taaffe and Brenda and Tom Ellacott, tributes were paid to this amazing lady from the Alta Vista Community Association(AVCA), Councillor Peter Hume, Mayor Jim Watson and MP David McGuinty.

Hostess Ruth Taaffe started by thanking Dorothy for her continuing efforts to build the local community, reaching out to new neighbors and always providing a helping hand. Garry Lindberg, on behalf of AVCA, presented a floral arrangement to Dorothy, thanking her for her many years of service to the community. Councillor Hume presented a gift of taxi chits to Dorothy, stressing that she should use these to return frequently to continue providing wise counsel. Mayor Watson presented a framed Letter of Commendation signed by Councillor Hume and himself, outlining the many, many contributions made to the community, both in civic affairs and as a volunteer to so many organizations. MP David McGuinty presented his Volunteer Recognition Award to Dorothy, emphasizing the quality of volunteer service given.

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Dorothy Bannister, an Ottawa native, attended Glebe Collegiate and then went to Victoria College, University of Toronto in Sept., 1939 to take a degree in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, a discipline few women of her generation pursued. After Normal School, she started teaching Mathematics in high schools in Alexandria and Picton where she met Jim Valliant. They married in 1947. Moving back to Ottawa, they briefly lived in Sandy Hill until they built their house on Alta Vista Drive in the summer of 1950. There they raised three children, John, Jean and Anne. Dorothy returned to teaching Mathematics half time in 1960 and continued until 1985 when she retired.

In 1950, Alta Vista Drive(renamed from Churchill Drive after Ottawa annexed the area in January, 1950) was a gravel road with no services. The Valliants along with several neighbors were instrumental in ensuring that Alta Vista Drive was transformed into the prettiest Drive in Ottawa. They campaigned to have paving, sidewalks, boulevards and street lights, paying extra taxes for those amenities. This was the start of The Alta Vista Drive Residents Association (AVDRA) that still exists to ensure that the Drive remains a lovely place to live. Over the years Dorothy has gone door-to-door with successful petitions for maintaining the street character, for adding new curbs while maintaining the street as a residential collector street, for supporting the proposed Alta Vista Parkway and more recently for organising a traffic management/traffic calming study to deal with the increased traffic on the Drive. Dorothy also was an active participant in the Alta Vista Visioning Study, conducted by the Alta Vista Community Association (AVCA) and she served on both the AVCA and AVDRA Executive Committees until last September. Her razor sharp mind and active support for the community has helped ensure adherence to the original visioning for this community.

Dorothy and Jim were part of the original group that brought Rideau Park United Church into existence and she has made immeasurable contributions to the church through active participation in the United Church Women groups. Notably, she was the flower convener for more than twenty years, ensuring that lovely floral arrangements were in the church each week. Dorothy is a former executive member and now a regular member of the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. As part of that organization she continues to be a regular volunteer in an English conversation group for new speakers of English in the Diplomatic Hospitality group as well as other hospitality activities for the spouses of diplomats. Dorothy was a member of the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club and actively curled until recently. She plays bridge, does china painting and needlepoint and also teaches and plays a mean game of Mahjong.
Dorothy has been an exemplary community volunteer and has set an outstanding example for us all. She delivered Meals on Wheels for over twenty years, was heavily involved in the Home and School Association at Alta Vista Public School, worked as a volunteer at Riverside Hospital for more than 15 years, and has canvassed for the Salvation Army, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke foundation, the Arthritis Society and the United Way. She was a member of the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC) for several years, advising the City Council on the conservation of our built heritage.

Alta Vista will sorely miss Dorothy but fortunately we will be able to consult her on new community developments since her new residence is nearby. And we will continue to hold her up as an excellent role model and a shining example of community volunteer and activist.

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