The Kents at the Austrian Ball
BEFORE BEING ELECTED to the House of Commons in 2008, Peter Kent was a leading journalist, known for his work on The National, The Journal and Moneywise. Before that, he was a correspondent in Africa, which is where he met his future wife, fellow journalist Cilla. He shares their story.
I was NBC’s Africa correspondent, based in Johannesburg. Cilla was a feature writer and columnist with the Johannesburg Star. Charlene Smith (then Bertramo), a mutual friend and Star colleague, was amused by my characterization of Cilla’s opinion pieces as the work of a “man-hating barracuda” … so, Charlene set up a blind, double date.
I arrived on time and made small talk with Charlene and her date. Cilla was perhaps half an hour late … interviewing Connie Mulder, a hard-line Nat politician. She almost cancelled our date because it was such a good feature assignment.
[It was] short, three weeks. One of those I was away hiking .... The night I flew back to Johannesburg, I called Cilla. We went for pizza. A couple of days later, lying by a swimming pool ... I suggested that it might be a great idea to get married. Cilla didn’t miss a beat.
We were married in Randburg City Hall (a northern suburb of Johannesburg), and the wedding was solemnized at the Anglican church in Sandton. Our wedding lunch was held at the Sunnyside Park Hotel … attended by Cilla’s mom and brother and a rowdy representation of the international press corp. The tab was graciously picked up by hotelier Sol Kerzner, one of Cilla’s former beaux. We couldn’t honeymoon because I had to leave town to return to Canada to help start up a CBC program called The Journal. Cilla had to wait for police clearance to emigrate.
[We have] one daughter, Trilby, now 27 years old, named by Cilla after author George du Maurier’s free-spirited Victorian heroine who had a perfect left foot.… Our life is not all that different from our early married days, pre Trilby. I’m on the road a lot — in Ottawa and the Americas. Cilla is focused on her new-found passion — tutoring ESL. She also supports ... several charitable causes. She no longer writes but is a ferocious promoter of literacy.
And we both tend to our geriatric Yorkies and the never-ending maintenance of our heritage home.