Cape Breton Women Series: Ms. Ann Terry MacLellan


March 3rd, 2012

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators,

She lived well, laughed often and loved much, She gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children, She has filled her niche and accomplished her task, And leaves the world better than she found it, She never lacked the appreciation of earth's beauty, Or failed to express it, She looked for the best in others and gave the best she had. Honourable senators, these words by poet Robert Louis Stevenson were delivered as part of the homily during the funeral in 1985 for Cape Breton's First Lady, Terry MacLellan, better known as Ann Terry.

Ann Terry was born to Bridget "Bea" MacKinnon and Charles MacLellan. She was raised in Beaver Cove, Cape Breton. Beneath the glamour and sophistication she would later radiate, she remained a simple Scottish girl who was intensely proud of her roots and Celtic family traditions.

From her parents, Ann Terry acquired many traits that would shape her professional life. Her father was a man of words and loved to tell stories. He appreciated a well-turned phrase, use of metaphor and simile, and use of the odd Gaelic phrase. Mr. MacLellan had a warm, friendly personality and is remembered as a truly nice gentleman. While learning from her father how to tell a story, Ann Terry's mother began, at a young age, to mould her to be a "lady." She was a renowned local vocalist who was very much at home on the stage; it seemed destined that Ann Terry would follow that path, as well. At the age of three, she had already acquired an extraordinary vocabulary, one greater than a child twice her age. Her mother started Ann Terry in speech studies with Mrs. Olive MacDonald, who worked diligently devoting much time and energy to her star pupil.

While at Holy Angels High School, Ann Terry enrolled in Mrs. MacDonald's course in Educational Dramatics. This was her introduction to Shakespeare and as a stage performer. Her first appearance was as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Being tall and in an all girls school, she was often cast in a male role.

Ann Terry took these studies and the power of her voice very seriously. She was rewarded when she took the Outstanding Individual Award at the Cape Breton Festival of Speech and Drama, the first time this prize was given at the festival.

After high school, Ann Terry entered St. Francis Xavier University, taking a Bachelor of Arts. While there, she was very active in the student radio presentations with CJFX. This provided her the experience of feeling an audience through the airwaves.

After her graduation, she began to work with CBC Halifax and it is here that "Ann Terry" was born; the CBC official thought that her name was too long to use on the air and suggested that she go by Ann Terry instead. After a short while, she left CBC Halifax and returned to Cape Breton. She took over at CJCB Radio in Sydney and finally had her own radio show.

Although she possessed much natural talent, she worked intensely off the air at perfecting her on-air personality. The subjects of Ann Terry's shows varied from New York and Broadway to a Sunday drive with her mother. She was able to carry audiences who lived working lives to other exciting words with her meticulous descriptions. She is often praised for her ability to find beauty in the obvious. She saw all that was positive in Cape Breton's land and its people. She had a genuine interest in those she interviewed and always had something positive and complimentary to say about everyone.

Honourable senators, I thank Ann Terry for the deep sense of pride she gave to us Cape Bretoners. As tomorrow is International Women's Day, I hope that honourable senators will celebrate Ann Terry's contribution to Cape Breton and recognize her as a positive person in the media, certainly for young women. They say a picture says a thousand words, but to be able to use your words to paint the picture is truly something special.

Honourable senators, I am delighted to include Ann Terry in the list of Cape Breton women who have made a difference in their community. I look forward to sharing more stories with you about strong, influential women from Cape Breton.