Jack Kitts, his wife Lian and their children Kara, Bianca and Bryson,
from The Kitts Family of the Ottawa Valley and North America (Woermke, 2007)
Dr. Jack Kitts, CEO of The Ottawa Hospital, was named a Member of the Order of Canada by Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, on Friday June 29, 2018 at Rideau Hall.
According to the press release from the Governor General’s office, Dr. Kitts was recognized for
his steadfast leadership in the development and implementation of patient-centred care, and for his promotion of better health practices across the country.
The Order of Canada is our country’s highest civilian honour. It was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and “dedication to community and service to the nation.”
Dr. Kitts is a native of Barry’s Bay. He graduated from Madawaska Valley District High School in the Bay, the University of Ottawa and studied in the United States before becoming an anesthesiologist in Ottawa. After becoming director of anesthesiology and chief of staff, Jack was appointed President and CEO of the newly-amalgamated Ottawa Hospital in 2002.
Kitts has strong familial ties to the western part of Renfrew County and the Ottawa Valley. His parents, Charlie and Joan Kitts, owned and operated Kitts’ Red and White Grocery in Barry’s Bay and raised their nine children there. His grandparents Jack and Julia “Babe” Kitts – and later his uncle and aunt John and Anna Mary Kitts — ran the iconic Kitts’ General Store in Cormac, Ontario.
“Dr. Jack,” as he is known, was not the only Barry’s Bay native to receive an honour on Friday June 29. His second cousin, John Yakabuski, MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke was, on that day, sworn-in as Minister of Transportation for Ontario.
Kitts’ grandfather and namesake, John Bryson Kitts, and Yakabuski’s grandmother, Clare Conway, were siblings, the children of Charles Kitts and Roseann Murray. They were born at the Kitts’ farm and stopping place on the Opeongo Line just west of Barry’s Bay.
The Charles Kitts family of at their farm on “Kitts’ Hill” (now Mintha’s Hill) Barry’s Bay in 1896:
Back row left to right: Margaret (Mrs. James Sullivan), William (married Nellie Whelan), James.
Middle: Francis, Mable (Sr. Mary Agatha, CSJ), Roseann (nee Murray), John Bryson, Charles, Clare (Mrs. Thomas Conway).
Front: Roseann (Mrs. William Doyle) and Agatha (Mrs. Mark Billings). From The Kitts Family of the Ottawa Valley and North America (Woermke, 2007).
John Bryson Kitts, Dr. Jack’s grandfather, is in the middle row to the left of his father. Clare Kitts, John Yakabuski’s grandmother is on her father’s right.
To our knowledge, Kitts is the first Barry’s Bay native to receive the Order of Canada. Yakabuski is the second cabinet minister to hail from the Bay. Another cousin of both men — Sean Conway — held several cabinet portfolios in the 1980s and 1990s. Yakabuski is also the fourth individual from Barry’s Bay to represent this part of Renfrew County. He was preceded by Sean Conway, his own father, Paul J. Yakabuski, and by Sean’s grandfather, Thomas P. Murray.