If you were at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in the eighties and nineties, working with the tour operators or the charter carriers you likely remember Ellen Rosemond. A small blonde firecracker who despite a beaming smile, simply didn’t suffer fools and who seldom had a thought she didn’t immediately voice. Ellen ruffled a lot of feathers, bruised some egos but could also be just as kind, considerate, caring and funny as she could be brash and brazen.
A thoughtful, intelligent woman with a degree in Art History and Slavic languages from the University of Toronto, Ellen steered her love of travel into a career as a travel agent, and then taught her favourite subject at Sheridan College, guiding the first class through the CTC course and taking the exam with her students, garnering the fourth highest mark in Ontario – which seriously annoyed her – fourth highest? Not good enough!
She left teaching to co-found Cygnet Travel Representatives Inc. a service for tour operators and corporations that offered dispatch, reception, concierge, general airport and liaison services with airlines and aviation operators for over 18 years at YYZ. Along the way she also concurrently co-founded Cygnet Tennis, working with the Women’s Tennis Association and Tennis Canada to manufacture and provide merchandise at Canadian tournaments. The final entrepreneurial venture for the company, and the one she perhaps loved most, was Cygnet Gallery, an art gallery in Toronto’s Yorkville district.
To meet Ellen was to remember her. Small in stature but with a huge temperament and a fiery temper which could dissolve in seconds into a radiant smile and a funny quip. Complicated and complex, she was both tough and tender, inflexible and lenient. Despite serious and painful back issues, she worked as hard or harder than anyone else and was on her feet (in Chanel pumps) for hours on end without a complaint. She had unlimited patience when teaching or explaining a problem, and none at all if she felt the listener was not concentrating on the issue at hand.
Ellen had a lively sense of humour, a quick wit and a keen intellect. She loved to travel and did so as often as she could.
A great joy was in rummaging around auction houses and art galleries, be it St. Ives, Edinburgh, Collingwood, or Toronto, or looking for treasures and unknown artists at The Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition in London.
She loved the theatre, was passionate about music, and for many years, had subscription seats to both the TSO and the Canadian Opera Company. Her taste however was eclectic, and she enjoyed all types of music including jazz, pop and rock. In art too, she had varied tastes ranging from abstract modern to old masters and could discuss them all with knowledge and intelligence.
Ellen Rosemond died suddenly this week. She was my business partner for almost twenty years and my friend for much longer. I will miss her as will the many friends and associates who remember this small woman with the huge personality.
First published at Travel Industry Today