Janine O'Leary Cobb



I had a peripatetic childhood, attending ten schools in Ottawa, New Brunswick, Montreal, and Toronto before graduating from high school.  Denied university because of family finances, I moved from Ottawa to Toronto at age 19 to get a job in advertising (very glamorous in the 1950s) and it was there that I met the man who became my husband, Jack Cobb.  We were married in 1957 and moved to Montreal in 1960, just before the birth of our first child.

For the next 15 years, I was a home-based wife and mother with my fifth and last child born in 1969. Starting in 1963, I attended evening university classes, graduating with an honours degree in 1975 and a masters in 1980. From 1976 to 1990, I taught humanities and sociology at Vanier CEGEP. I always felt that teaching was what I was born for.

We bought a computer for the children for Christmas 1985 and, intrigued by this new technology, I wrote a newsletter about menopause (and the sheer lack of information available on it) which I sent to eight or ten same-age friends who lived in various parts of Canada. One friend worked for a leading radio station in Toronto and she arranged for me to be interviewed on air. This led to a newspaper story about the newsletter and, within days, over 700 women had written to ask for information and/or for a copy of the newsletter. A new career was born.

As the demand for the newsletter mushroomed, I reluctantly decided to resign my teaching position to work full-time as writer, editor and publisher of A Friend Indeed and to write the book, Understanding Menopause, which--over the next 14 years--sold over 45,000 copies.  Also, as the reputation of the newsletter grew, it led to speaking engagements across North America as well as in England, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, I decided to sell the newsletter and retire, but my interest in women’s health led to a membership in Breast Cancer Action Montreal, an advocacy group that sought to highlight the causes of breast cancer; I served on the board and as president.

In 1999, Jack and I tripped over the Unitarian Church and quickly became devoted members. Over the next 20 years, I was variously secretary to the Board, a coordinator of the Caring Network, a member of Telecrew, the producer of the e-bulletin, Week at a Glance, active in the 175th anniversary celebrations and, latterly, a Warden.

I can look back on many different stages of life -- as advertising assistant, housewife, student,
teacher, author, editor — but my main and most important role was and is as proud mother of five next-generation Cobbs, each an independent, decent and caring individual and each a wonderful parent, blessing Jack and me with a brood of 13 superb grandchildren.