Hazel Gwendolen Lowe
may 11, 1929 – June 19, 2015
annIversarIes • remembrance
I REMEMBER EXACTLY when I first met Hazel Lowe. It
was in 1973 when she and her husband, Bobby, and newly
married Mike and I were all invited by a mutual friend
to eat in the recently opened Newport Room. She was
dark haired, dark eyed, vivacious and utterly charming. I was suspicious. Could anyone really be that
nice? Well, yes, she could. She was for the whole 42
years I knew her. I soon realised her total engagement
with life came from both her deep love for her family
and for her guest house which, until the last years of her
life, she ran with unfailing enjoyment and energy.
Guests would return to Salt Kettle House year after year, not
just for its superb location with views of both Hamilton Harbour and
Salt Kettle Inlet, but for Hazel herself, for the laughter and lightheartedness that permeated the house. The kitchen, Tuscany yellow, had a
magnetic force drawing everybody into its family atmosphere—photos
of children, grandchildren and friends everywhere, plants, fluffy ginger
cat relaxed in a woven basket and, at one point, Sam, an extremely
affectionate rangy terrier. It was here Hazel would guide her guests, sit
them down at her kitchen table, proffer drinks and advise them—no,
instruct them on the best places to visit and dine at reasonable prices.
Immediately they would be pulled in by the spell of her Mary Poppins
personality. Hazel reveled in the diversity of her guests and diverse
they certainly were, in profession as well as nationality. There were, for
example, teachers, lawyers, air stewards; there were also, as she told me,
hookers. “Not what you’re thinking,” said Hazel laughing.
“They were all women from Canada and they were rug
Year after year they would come, sometimes to re-
unite with fellow guests, sometimes for New Year par-
ties that Hazel would hold in her guest lounge. Then
there were spontaneous gatherings, such as the one
she would hold in her kitchen on the day of the British
Grand National. Guests, family and friends would listen
to the radio commentary, jumping up and down with
excitement. Hazel always picked a horse with a vulgar name
and was ecstatic when one year Blowing Wind did her proud.
Without fail, two other resident guests arrived promptly at four
every afternoon in search of their tea, then returning at six for cocktails.
Lulu, Hazel said, was friendly but Queenie was aristocratic, if not
downright arrogant. She would peck on the door if it wasn’t open. But
it didn’t matter—Muscovy ducks, they were part of the family.
That was the secret of Hazel’s charm: she would gather everyone into
the warmth of her hospitality. Not just her own family and friends, not
just her guests, but people she met in shops, in restaurants, in church—
even people who happened to walk past Salt Kettle Guest House whom
she would greet as long-lost friends before they would become part of
She was an icon. And now that she has gone, memories of Hazel and
her guesthouse will become an integral part of Salt Kettle’s history.
written by elizabetH Jones