Crash victims Jennifer Brown and Eileen Hiscock were like sisters

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Joyce Bowls says Jennifer Brown and Eileen Hiscock were more than a daughter and daughter-in-law to her.

“They were my best friends,” the 81-year-old Northwood resident said, holding back tears at times as she recalled the countless hours they spent together helping her complete her rural mail route.

Bowls’ daughter Jennifer, 62, of Kent Bridge, and daughter-in-law Eileen, 63, of Northwood, died in a three-vehicle crash on Tuesday on Kent Bridge Road near River Line.

The pain is evident on Bowls’ face as her voice trails off after mentioning Jennifer and Eileen were doing her route for her while she was on holidays when the tragic crash occurred.

Bowls said Jennifer and Eileen were dedicated to helping her attain a personal goal of having her family provide mail service in the community for 100 consecutive years.

“She’s been my constant help,” she said of Eileen, who has helped her with the route for the past decade, knowing Bowls had this milestone she wanted to reach.

Bowls said the more than 250 stops on her route once took her about six hours to complete.

“With Eileen’s help, we had it whittled down to about four-and-a-half-hours,” she said. “She was a great worker.”

Bowls said Jennifer has helped her with the route since she was in her youth.

She recalled the “wonderful conversations” she would have with both of them while delivering the mail.

“I could write a 10-volume book and still not touch on everything we did together,” Bowls said.

Noting that Jennifer and Eileen were affectionately known as “the mail girls” in the area, Bowls said, “to be truthful, I wanted these two girls to take over for me.”

She proudly shares her family’s history with Canada Post that began on Nov. 11, 1918 when her father, Lester Pettipiece, began delivering mail by horse and buggy, just shy of his 16th birthday. He would be helped often by his siblings.

Bowls said her grandmother would heat bricks in the oven to put on the floor of the buggy to keep their feet from freezing in the winter. She added they would alternate holding the reins with one hand while sitting on the other hand to keep it warm while driving the buggy.

In 1953, her mother Bertha Pettipiece, began operating the Northwood Post Office out of their family home until 1969. The family home was once located beside where Bowls lives in this tiny hamlet south of Kent Bridge with her husband Reg.

When her father died in 1969, Bowls said her brother Ed Gore took over the rural route before she took it on in 1978.

Bowls was once confident she would reach the 100-years of continuous mail service by her family, but that is in serious doubt now.

“I don’t know what the future brings,” she said, adding it would be difficult for her to go back to doing the route without someone helping her.

Her son Mark Bowls, long-time partner of Eileen, is proud of her commitment to helping his mother.

“I called her a double-winged angel for what she did for mother,” he said.

He joked that Jennifer and Eileen were truly like sisters, often squabbling with each other, but always there for each other due to their close friendship.

Jennifer, who loved animals, especially cats, was also a doting grandmother.

Her husband Leigh Brown, joked: “I was No. 2 compared to the grandchildren.”

The family believes it is only fitting that they hold a joint funeral service for these two special women in their lives.

A visitation is being held Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. at McKinlay Funeral Home in Chatham, which will be followed by the funeral service.


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