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Former P.E.I. poet laureate David Helwig dies

David Helwig
David Helwig - Contributed

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Former P.E.I. poet laureate David Helwig is being remembered as a “brilliant man” who made a difference.

The author, editor and member of the Order of Canada died peacefully, surrounded by family, at King’s County Memorial Hospital in Montague this past Tuesday.

He was 80 years old.

P.E.I. author Hugh MacDonald, describes him as a “tremendous friend.”

“David was a wonderful gift for me. He was also a wonderful gift to P.E.I. He was a devoted supporter of the arts in every possible way.”

Whether he was serving on the board of the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra or directing various literary exercises, in his stint as poet laureate, he made “outstanding contributions” wherever he went

For example, Helwig, along with MacDonald and the late Joe Sherman met regularly at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market.

Their discussions about writing and poetry inspired them to start “Saturday Morning Chapbooks” – a series of short poetry collections to help young writers on P.E.I. get published.

“We ended up doing three series,” says MacDonald.

He is survived by his wife Judy Gaudet, his daughters Maggie Helwig (Ken Simons) and Kate Helwig (Claude Royer) and their mother, Nancy Helwig, grandchildren Simone Helwig and Émile and Pascal Royer, and step-daughters Mary Gaudet (Lwam Ghebrehariat), Caitlin Gaudet (Dylan Trotter), and Christina Gaudet (Mark White).

David Helwig
David Helwig

A reception will be held on Friday Oct. 19, 6-9 55 Hollow Pine Rd. in Brudenell. All are welcome.

The funeral service will be held in Toronto at St Stephen-in-the-Fields Church on Nov. 3.

Helwig was born in Toronto, where he spent his early childhood years. After living in Kingston and Montreal, he moved to Belfast, P.E.I. in 1996, where he settled; becoming very involved in the arts community.

Maggie Helwig describes her father as an inspiration.

“He was a brilliant man, extraordinarily eloquent; the most intelligent person I’ve ever known; complex, concerned, funny and very impatient. He got bored waiting for traffic lights to change,” says Maggie, during a telephone interview.

Helwig saw things that needed to be done and reached out to others.

“He was committed to helping young writers. When he met someone and felt they should be published, he made that happen.”

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