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Daughter says mother’s heart ‘always in St. James’
Charlotte Laviolette said her late mother, Margot Chester, loved the St. James neighbourhood with all her heart.
Chester, who passed away on Oct. 30, 2010, was the editor of Metro One — which eventually evolved into The Metro — when Laviolette was a young adult.
"My mom began professionally writing in the mid-1950s or so. We lived in Charleswood, we were raised in Charleswood, but my mom’s baby has always been St. James," Laviolette said.
Chester wrote a column called "Varsity Viewing," for the St. James Leader about the Varsity View neighbourhood in Charleswood. She later became editor of the St. James Assiniboia News and eventually became editor-in-chief of several community newspapers, including Metro One, The Herald and The Lance.
"(During this time), women were ‘supposed’ to be at home making cookies. She was a real champion, a pioneer for her time," Laviolette said.
Laviolette said journalism was largely dominated by men when Chester was in the business, so she was incredibly proud of her mother.
"Metro One was my mom’s baby. She was editor-in-chief for all the other community newspapers, but Metro One was her baby and her favourite," Laviolette said.
Chester’s then-boss, former Metro One publisher Brock Cordes, remembers her as incredibly dedicated.
"She was our most devoted journalist," Cordes said. "She worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week on those papers and she was so community-oriented."
Chester immigrated to Canada from the U.K. as a young child with her parents, settling in St. James. Once she was married, she moved to Charleswood, but "her heart was always in St. James," Laviolette said.
"I don’t think I have ever met anybody who loved their job more than she did. She just shone, and it was very difficult for her to retire from the newspaper business. She just was at her absolute best when she was writing," Laviolette said.
When Chester retired, she and her husband, Charleswood Golf Club pro Tommy Chester, sold their home in Charleswood and moved to Neepawa for four years. She returned to the St. James and Charleswood neighbourhoods in 2002.
Laviolette said Chester’s last couple of years were difficult ones, as she suffered multiple strokes before passing away.
Laviolette revealed that there is a bench at Tom Chester Park in Charleswood — named after her father — in memory of her parents. When Chester died, Laviolette sprinkled her parents’ ashes in the park.
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