Janet Kitz, a great believer in education and the power of history to shape a community’s identity, died on May 10. Best known for her work on the Halifax Explosion, Janet Kitz immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1971 and turned her interest in this great but terrible chapter of the story of her new home into an tremendous accomplishment in public history. In work that she frequently presented to the RNSHS, she began with artifact research, she moved on to museum exhibits, oral history, books and public commemorations that lifted a veil on the explosion and its impact on the people of Nova Scotia. Her work took an event that had been little explored and poorly recognized and paved the way of others to continue. Her contributions went beyond the explosion, writing the biography of Andrew Cobb, one of the most iconic architects in Nova Scotia and through her service on numerous boards, most notably, the Point Pleasant Park commission which led her to write and publish the history of the park.
Profound in her influence and generous in sharing her knowledge with others, she will be greatly missed but left an impressive legacy for future generations seeking education on iconic moments that shaped the identity of Nova Scotia.
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Tuesday, May 14, 2019
KITZ, Janet Frame, ONS MSM
Janet Kitz walked bravely into the dark on May 10, 2019. She died of old age and pulmonary fibrosis, from which she suffered stoically for a decade. She died at home in her own bed as she wished, in charge to the end. Janet was born in Carnwath in the Scottish Lowlands on January 12, 1930, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Rankin) Brownlee. Her father was a noted horticulturalist and developed the Jenny Brownlee begonia in her name. She trained as a teacher in Glasgow and worked in that field for 20 years, first in London, then Davos, Switzerland, and then in the U.S. on the eastern shore of Maryland. She was teaching in Edinburgh when she was invited to attend a dinner as part of the Edinburgh Festival and was seated beside Leonard Kitz, who was there representing the National Arts Centre. They were married within the year and she moved to Halifax in 1971. Janet was a lifetime member of the Antiquarian Society of Halifax and a fellow of Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, often using that forum for lectures on her research before she went to print with her books on the Halifax explosion, most notably “Shattered City, The Halifax Explosion and The Road to Recovery”. Saint Mary’s University awarded her an honorary degree in recognition that sound research and authorship of accessible books for a wide public is vital for society. She was made a member of the Order of Nova Scotia in 2018 and in 2019 was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General. Janet was on a number of boards and commissions but a favourite was the Point Pleasant Park Commission which she chaired for many years. She wrote a book about the park with a final chapter of photos of dogs and their owners. Until her very last years she walked her beloved Brittany spaniels in the park twice a day in all weather and enjoyed chatting with her dog-walking friends and all the park staff. In the U.K., Janet leaves her cousin, Marjorie Brownlee; her niece, Anne Buchannan (Brownlee) and spouse, Alan; her nephew, Tom Brownlee and partner, Angela Perry; and her nephew, David Yule and spouse, Rachel. In Nova Scotia, Janet became step- mother to Leonard’s children, Hilary (Steven Janus), John (Ann), and Alan (Meredith Annett). She was the adoring Granny to their children, Sam Singer (Jeannette MacMillan), Nick Singer, Jeremy Singer, Alex Kitz (Laura), Robert Kitz (Paula McLaughlin), Hilary Kierans (Denis), Alice Kitz, and Duff Kitz (Alison Boros). Janet is also survived by seven delightful great-grandchildren with another expected in a few weeks. There will be a reception for family and friends on Thursday, May 16th from 5-7 p.m. at 1110 Rockcliffe Street, the house in which she lived so happily for 44 years. Donations may be made to PATH (Palliative and Therapeutic Harmonization) Clinic, QEII Health Sciences Centre.