Aileen Vincent-Barwood passed peacefully through the Veil in her sleep on Sunday, February 20th, surrounded with love. In her 98th year of an adventurous life, the writer was ready to end her story.
Born to the late Harriett and George Walton of Toronto, Aileen attended Moulton College Finishing School before volunteering for the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless radio operator. In the military she met the love of her life, E. A. Vincent-Barwood, a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Dental Corps. After WWII, Aileen and Vince married and attended Mount Allison University. Shortly after graduating they moved to Ethiopia. Over their 75 years together, their travels took them to the Middle East, New York State’s Hudson Valley, West Africa, Northern New York, the Bahamas, Saudi Arabia, New England, and finally back to Canton for their later snowbird years.
A lifelong journalist, Aileen started out as a foreign correspondent for the CBC and the Toronto Daily Star, ultimately becoming the editor of the St. Lawrence Plaindealer in the 1970s. She believed that small hometown newspapers are the backbone of our nation’s free press, and our freedom. She authored three books: North Country Editor, a compilation of her “Grasse Roots” editorial columns; This Sweet Place – Island Living and Other Adventures, a chronicle of winters spent in their home on Exuma, Bahamas, illustrated by Vince; and A Murderous Thirst – Death Comes to the Adirondacks, an environmental murder mystery. Additionally, Aileen wrote numerous short stories and articles for various magazines, and volunteered as an English tutor at a women’s prison throughout her 80’s. An avid gardener, lover of dogs, and devout Unitarian, Ai was happy pulling weeds, discussing physics, championing the less fortunate, and advocating for human rights.
Aileen was predeceased by her brother, Harris Walton, and in February 2021, by her beloved Vince. She is survived by her children Scott Vincent-Barwood, Jennifer Vincent-Barwood and husband John McCloskey, bonus son Thomas Gardner and companion Terri Chalone; grandchildren Connie Takeshita and husband Jason Takeshita, Aubri Vincent-Barwood, Zachariah Knight and wife Elizabeth Herrington Knight, and Zoë Knight; her great-grandchildren Olivia, Scott, and Dane Takeshita, and Evelyn Knight; and many friends of all ages.
A memorial service for Aileen and Vince will be held this summer. For those so inclined, remembrance contributions may be given to the Canton Free Library, Potsdam Humane Society, or North Country Public Radio. In Aileen’s memory, take your dog for a walk, read a banned book, enjoy sunrise with a good cup of tea, or marvel at the quantum universe.
I love you Mom.
I will miss you even though you are always in my heart. You are an important part of my life and the reason I am who I am. You always encouraged me, my curiosity, and my sense of adventure.
Fair winds and a following sea on your new adventure.
What an honor it was to know (and briefly work for)such a remarkable woman! She dared to hire on the spot a high school kid who aspired to be a newspaper reporter by creating a column for her. Although my reporting career ended there, I carried with me her positive influence, including a devotion to the power of our local press and library, the rewards of travel, and lifelong learning. Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” comes to mind as I think of her passing. Our village was ever so fortunate to have had her presence and her good work.
Deepest condolences to her family and many close friends,
Such a wonderful life. Rest In Peace