Burnbrae Gardens honours resident Julie Hallett, a trailblazer for working women

Burnbrae Gardens resident Julie Hallett is pictured here with her family after receiving one of two of the Campbellford long-term care home’s Lifetime Achievement Awards at an Aug. 29 ceremony.

Julie Hallett receives Lifetime Achievement Award for a career marked by pioneering information technology and working on the Avro Arrow project

CAMPBELLFORD, Ont. – Burnbrae Gardens resident Julie Hallett’s life has been marked with many achievements. She was involved with the war effort during the 1940s, she was a pioneer in computer programming and even worked on the ill-fated Avro Arrow project.

It’s for these reasons and others that staff members at the Campbellford long-term care home nominated Julie for a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to her during an Aug. 29 ceremony at Burnbrae Gardens.

Julie was born in London, England, in 1926. Her remarkable career began during the height of the Second World War, in 1944-45, when she served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

While in the service, Julie monitored the ionosphere – a region of the atmosphere that influences radio waves – to ensure the Allied forces’ shortwave communications were being properly transmitted.

In 1944, Julie married her husband, Dennis Hallett.

Julie and her family came to Canada in 1955, following a stint in the Falkland Islands. In Canada, Julie started a job at Westinghouse, where she used her experience in technology to work on the guided system for the famed Avro Arrow, a state-of-the-art interceptor aircraft designed to defend Canada during the Cold War.

When the Avro Arrow project was cancelled in the late 1950s, Julie went to work for Ontario Hydro as a UNIVAC II computer programmer. UNIVAC was an early commercial computer. Using the experience she garnered from Westinghouse, Julie went on to work in information technology for IBM, becoming one of the first married women to be employed by the company.

Julie was also a committed volunteer at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, where she mainly worked with newborns.

Julie retired in 1991 but continued to volunteer with a seniors’ help line. She also became active in tai chi around this time. She continued to practise the martial art until 2016.

Burnbrae Gardens administrator April Faux explains why Julie was nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Julie is one of the women who paved the way for today’s women, allowing a wider choice of careers and recognition so women can play a greater role in society,” she says.

Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to people living in OMNI Health Care long-term care homes who have demonstrated commitment to other residents, their home and country.

Determining this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient at Burnbrae Gardens was so challenging the team decided to present the award to two residents, Julie and Phillip Ash. The OMNIway will be featuring Phillip’s story in the coming days.

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