West End family still in shock after relative named victim of Nova Scotia mass shooting

Lillian Campbell Hyslop, left, is shown in happier times. Ms. Hyslop is the first cousin of Mike Boyd, originally of Gore Bay, and was one of 22 victims in a tragic mass shooting that took place in Nova Scotia in April.

CALGARY – Mike Boyd, who grew up in Gore Bay and spends most of his summers with his wife at their camp in Oriole Park on Lake Kagawong, said the family is still in shock after learning that their relative, Lillian Campbell Hyslop, was one of 22 victims in the mass shootings in Nova Scotia on the weekend of April 18-19.

“Lillian was truly a very fine woman in every regard,” stated Mr. Boyd when contacted by the Recorder this past Monday evening. “Shock, tragedy and inexplicable are three ways that I can sum up our feelings on what has happened.”

Mr. Boyd’s first cousin, Lillian Hyslop, lived with her husband in Wentworth, Nova Scotia and had just headed out on her usual morning walk on Sunday, April 19 on the same road as the killer. She was shot dead by him on the spot.

“Lillian was a retired nurse,” Mr. Boyd (who is the son of George and Betty Boyd, grew up in Gore Bay and now lives in Calgary, Alberta) told the Recorder. “Her father had a home farm where he and her mother raised their children in Glengarry County (Ontario) in the Scottish settlements.” 

Mr. Boyd pointed out Lillian was a first cousin, and “was the oldest of six children, who all who grew up on a dairy farm. We got to know our young cousins very well when my mother would take us children on visits to visit them.”

“Two of Lilian’s siblings were also nurses who worked in the far North,” said Mr. Boyd, “and she had settled in Whitehorse, Yukon.” He pointed out his cousin and her husband Mike, “had an art gallery that specialized in Inuit art and they raised, trained and raced huskies. Their one son Chas still lives in the North.” 

“A few years ago, Lillian and Mike both retired and they moved to the Wentworth, Nova Scotia area,” continued Mr. Boyd. “My sister Patricia, who lives in the Sault, and Donald, who lives in Vancouver, we all are quite connected to our cousins. It is certainly a tragedy to have this take place. She and her husband have been robbed of years of enjoyable retirement. Yes, she was very close to her five siblings and everyone is close to her husband and son.” 

“She always had a smile. Every time she’s met us, she was happy, cheerful and friendly,” Debi Atkinson, who lived in the Wentworth, Nova Scotia area, told CBC’s As It Happens on April 21. “She was a wonderful person.”

Ms. Atkinson said Ms. Hyslop and her husband had wanted to retire in the beautiful Wentworth Valley. The couple was always volunteering in the area, including to help serve dinners up at the rec centre.

In her obituary, the 65-year-old is described as a mother who “lived her life with grace and kindness. A true adventurer, she lived, worked and explored Canada from sea to sea to shining sea.” It read, “she was courageous, generous, determined, quick-witted and gave the best hugs.”

Her obituary also said she and her husband retired to Nova Scotia from Whitehorse, Yukon in 2014 and enjoyed going to the many beautiful beaches for day trips. “She embraced her new province with her usual vitality creating a beautiful home and garden, exploring many of the beautiful sights and taking in new activities, while connecting with the warm people of Nova Scotia.” 

Ms. Hyslop’s neighbour, Heather Matthews, remembers her friend as a kind, quiet lady with great community spirit. 

A total of 22 people lost their lives during the gunman’s 12-hour rampage, which began on the evening of April 18 and lasted into the morning of April 19 in several different locations across northern Nova Scotia.