On October 17, 2012, at a scheduled meeting of the Canadian Club, Catherine Merkley, a Morrisburg resident, will be reuniting with her now famous former boss, Robert R. Fowler.
Merkley worked for Fowler when he was the Deputy Minister in the Department of National Defence (DND) in Ottawa in the early 1990s. He was then posted to be a Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in 1995.
Merkley went to New York for an “all girls weekend” in 1996 and visited Fowler and his family at his residence in downtown New York City.
From 1990 to 1995, Merkley was Fowler’s Administrative Assistant dealing with the Prime Minister’s Office, Privy Council Office, Minister of National Defence, all other Group Principals within the DND and Other Government Departments, at a trying time for DND, that being during the Somalia Affair and the disbanding of the Airborne Regiment.
When Fowler was posted to the UN, Merkley was transferred to a Staff Officer position in the Personnel Group working for Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire (now a Quebec Senator) and working with General Rick Hillier, (who later became the Chief of the Defence Staff, the highest ranking military position in the DND).
Merkley’s next position was that of the first female civilian Coordinator after the move of the Canadian Army Headquarters to Ottawa, then she became an Administration Manager for the first DNDCanadian Forces Ombudsman, Andre Marin, and finally she was promoted to the Human Resources Manager position with the Judge Advocate General (the military lawyers for DND).
Merkley took early retirement, after 28 years service as a civilian with DND, in 2005 to move back to her roots, near Chesterville.
In 2008, when Fowler was kidnapped by the Al-Qaeda, Fowler’s former personal staff of 10 employees, including Merkley, most of whom are still in the National Capital Region, were in constant contact via E-mail. The minute Fowler was released they sighed a huge sigh of relief.
As soon as Fowler’s book “A Season in Hell – My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda” was published, Merkley rushed out to buy a copy and hopes to have it personally autographed by him at the meeting.
October 17, 2012 will be their first time seeing each other since 1996.
In 2007, Merkley, with her husband, Kevin, moved to their retirement home on County Road 4 just outside of Morrisburg. Since that time, Merkley has been a Family Law Assistant for the local law firm of Gorrell, Grenkie and Remillard, acting as Family Law Assistant to J. Douglas Grenkie.