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Former McGill chancellor and prominent Montreal journalist Gretta Chambers dies at 90

Gretta Chambers, the first female chancellor of McGill University and a noted journalist in Montreal for several decades, has died at the age of 90. She passed away Saturday morning at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal. 

A graduate of McGill University in political science, Chambers went on to host the Province in Print on CBC radio, a weekly program about Quebec events from 1966 to 1980. She wrote a weekly column for the Montreal Gazette from the late 1970s until 2002. The two jobs kept her reading 140 newspapers a week in an effort to tell listeners and readers what people in the province were thinking, she told the Quebec Community Groups Network association when she won the 2012 Goldbloom Award for distinguished community service. 

She was named chancellor of McGill in 1991, and soon afterward Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa asked her to head up the Advisory Board on English Education, at a time when Bill 101 had tightened regulations on English schooling. 

She was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 and a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2000. She was also a member of the Ordre national du Québec.

“When I was young, I knew she was important because people would always tell me how much they liked her and respected her, but for all her accomplishments and successes, she was never anything more than just my grandmother and I think I my two siblings and five cousins will forever be thankful for that,” said her grandson, Willy Lowry, now a journalist for The National in the United Arab Emirates.

“She helped raise us and always had endless amounts of time to give. She was my role model and I’ve always aspired to be like her. It’s why I’m a journalist and I know she inspired countless others through her work at the Gazette, CBC, and McGill,: he said.

She leaves behind her brother, noted philosopher Charles Taylor, and five children.

More details to come.