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Corner Brook businessman Hubert Harnett believed in being respectful and responsible

Hubert Harnett
Hubert Harnett - Submitted

Hubert Harnett was an accomplished businessman and community leader in Corner Brook for many years, but his greatest dedication was to his family.

“He was a family first guy,” said his daughter Christine Young on Friday.

Mr. Harnett died in St. John’s on May 7. He and his wife Emma moved to the east coast in 1999. He was 85 years old, or as Young said he’d say, ‘in his 86th year.’

Mr. Harnett was born in High Beach on the Burin Peninsula.

A chartered accountant, he came to Corner Brook in 1957 to work at Hann Brothers Limited.

It was Bill Hann, one of the owners of the company, that Young said sparked her father’s interest in business.

“That entrepreneurial spirit in him caught fire and took off.”

His first business venture was a One Hour Martinizing dry cleaning business, which was followed by the opening of his own accounting firm, Harnett Kean and Associates, in 1970.

Over the years he grew the firm and got involved in other pursuits, including investing in properties.

He was part of the group that built the Mamateek Inn and the CIBC building and he was a director with ResourceCan, the first Newfoundland company to have a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Outside his business interests he was active in community life serving on the Roman Catholic School Board, as president of the Corner Brook Kinsmen Club and a member of the Corner Brook Chamber of Commerce.

He also served two terms — 1967-1969 and 1970-1973 — as a city councillor.

“He had his fingers into just about every pie,” said Young.

In 2008, he was named to the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame and has also been named to the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade’s Walk of Fame.

When she thinks of her father, Young said he was always values based.

“He believed very strongly in being respectful, being a responsible citizen, contributing to community life.”

And those, along with a strong work ethic, are all things he instilled in his children.

Three of his children David Harnett of Ontario and Michelle Maher of St. John’s and Paul Harnett of Corner Brook, who died in March 2017, followed their father into careers in business.

Young went the social route and as CEO of the YMCA of Western Newfoundland, Humber Community is a very active member of the community in Corner Brook.

It was his family that he was fiercely proud of, said Young.

“What I shared with him was a love of words,” she said. Her father was a lifelong learner and a voracious reader and he loved the English language.

The conversations they had are what Young said she’ll miss as she fought back tears.

“What I’ll miss the most is just having him here to talk to,” she said.

“His opinion when things are going on. He had an opinion on everything and he didn’t mind sharing it,” she said.

“We’ll just miss having him here and his ear and being able to listen to him.”
Mr. Harnett’s funeral service was held at the Carnell Memorial Chapel on Friday. Young said it would be a true celebration of his life complete with the songs “Let Me Fish off Cape St. Mary’s” and “The Cliffs of Baccalieu.”

Besides his wife and children, Mr. Harnett is survived by five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In honour of his contribution to Corner Brook the flags at city hall were lowered to half-mast on Friday.

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