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Ashes of late actress Margot Kidder return to Yellowknife, where she was born

The brother of the late Margot Kidder says he wished his famous sibling peace and love as he dispersed her cremated remains in their childhood home of Yellowknife. Actress Margot Kidder, who dated former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, arrives for his funeral at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Oct. 3, 2000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

YELLOWKNIFE — The brother of the late Margot Kidder says he wished his famous sibling peace and love as he dispersed her cremated remains in Yellowknife, where they were born.

A year after the “Superman” star died in Montana at age 69, John Kidder says he returned to Frame Lake, where they used to swim as children, to spread some of her ashes in the water.

Kidder was in the Northwest Territories capital this week with his wife, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, as they campaigned for the upcoming federal election.

But Kidder — who was born a year after the actress best known as Lois Lane in the “Superman” films — says he took advantage of the opportunity to fulfil one of his sister’s final wishes.

He says he and May sat by the water and watched the ashes sink into the lake. At the same time, he recited a Buddhist meditation in which he wished Kidder “loving kindness,” and that she be happy, peaceful and “at ease.”

The elder Kidder says he taught his sister that recitation years ago as a way to cope with personal turmoil that included bipolar disorder.

“It’s just four lines, it goes like this: “May you be filled with loving kindness, may you be well, may you be peaceful and at ease, may you be happy,'” Kidder said Thursday of his lakeside farewell.

“Much of her life was pretty tumultuous. Sometimes, that was able to help her kind of calm things a little bit.”

Margot Kidder lived in Yellowknife from birth in 1948 to age three. From there, Kidder says the family moved often, spending time in Vancouver, Montreal, and Sept-Iles, Que., on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“She was the only constant part of my life for years and I the only constant part of hers, so we had a very different brother-sister relationship than many people,” he says.

“And Margie was not all that stable, one would say, so sometimes that relationship was tough and sometimes it was very difficult. But it always came back to the cement (we shared) of life together in the North…. Margie always thought of herself as a northern child.”

The family moved to what is now Labrador City for three years when Kidder was 12, but she spent much of that time in Toronto attending Havergal College. John Kidder notes that’s where she got her first taste of the theatre. 

“And on she went from there,” he marvels of a prolific career that included horror favourites “Black Christmas” in 1974 and “The Amityville Horror” in 1979.

They were followed, of course, by her iconic take on Lois Lane in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Kidder’s other final wish was that some of her ashes also be dispersed near Labrador. John Kidder, who is the Green Party candidate in B.C.’s Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding, says he hopes to do that after the Oct. 21 election, mostly likely at another favourite childhood swimming hole called Quartzite Lake, just outside Labrador City.

As for the rest of the ashes, the 71-year-old says they are in “a grizzly bear lily meadow” in Montana.

“There’s places where grizzly bears go to dig up bulbs of lilies because they like to eat them and Margie’s preference — as she’s often told me — was to have her body just left out there for the bears,” he chuckles.

“So we took some of her ashes and put them with the lilies that the bears do eat.”

He admits that fulfilling his sister’s final requests has been an emotional task, but rewarding as well.

“It felt like a real completion, it was a good thing to do,” he says.

“It was sort of a mix of hope and nostalgia and remembrance and love, above all. I really loved my sister Margie.”

 

— by Cassandra Szklarski in Toronto

The Canadian Press