My Mom, Laurel Allard, was the firstborn of two daughters to Ida and Silas Pugh. Born in 1936, the middle of the dirty thirties in Port Hardy, Vancouver Island. Port Hardy is well named. It’s a remote town on the northern tip of a large, forested rock out on the edge of the continent.
My mother, Patricia Primrose Lazell, was born in Grays, Essex, England, on January 16, 1924. She was the daughter of Harry and Ethel, and the youngest of three children. Harry was a longshoreman at the Tilbury docks, and was a handsome 6’1” to Ethel’s 4’11”. Ethel had had polio as a child and wore a special boot. I remember my mother saying something about how her mother was bitterly self-conscious about her pronounced limp.
When put together, the threads I have of my mother’s life resemble a kind of open woven fabric, a shawl perhaps – a few bright strands with lots of holes. Still it's comfortable enough to wrap myself in and even find some warmth.
Elizabeth Howison – “Betty”, was born in Deadwater, England on October 17, 1927. Born a twin, she had a brother, Donald George, who died at the age of six weeks. On his death certificate it claimed “failure to thrive”. I think my mother always felt guilty for being the strong one.
My mom, Dorothy Elizabeth Hodgins (nee Dodd, yes she was Dot Dodd), was born in Fort William, BC in the 20's. One of four kids, her closest sibling was my aunt Shirley who was only one and a half years her senior. They were perfect sisters - total opposites - perfect partners in crime. Shirl was brash and beautiful, whereas my mom was the sweet, innocent one. Shirl's nickname for my mom was Doe. Appropriate, I always thought, because my mom had big hazel eyes and resembled a doe.
My mother, Nancy, was born in 1931, the second youngest of 12 children, the eighth daughter among nine sisters, raised on a sprawling farm in West Saanich on Vancouver Island. Her father, a peasant from southern China, arrived in Victoria in 1907. After settling on small farm he rented, he asked a friend if he had a sister he could take as a wife. But the promised sister was frightened at the prospect of marrying a complete stranger in an even stranger land, and her family, desperate to honour the arrangement, turned to an older sister, my grandmother – already considered an “old maid” at the age of 21 – and asked if she would go instead. At 44, her husband-to-be was more than twice my grandmother’s age; he was 61 when my mother was conceived.
JANE DIXON-WARREN: def: power tool wielding feminist laced with irrationality, tempered with practicality, sprinkled with theatricality but no sentimentality.
Diana Madeline Jane Bushby (aka Jane) was born in London, UK on JANUARY 25 1935, the 2nd child Stanley and Ruth (aka “B”) Bushby.
When I was seven years old my mother had dinner with the Queen. When I saw her in her evening gown I was quite sure she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She wore a yellow taffeta ball gown that showed off her shoulders and diamond necklace. On her feet she wore glass slippers with diamonds in them just like Cinderella. Over top was a deep purple velvet evening coat. My father wore the full dress uniform of a Canadian Mountie. That memory of my young, beautiful and glamorous mother with her handsome prince has always dazzled me, especially after I found out she was so frightened that night she could barely eat.
Ada Stoute (nee Moore) was born August 14, 1935 on the tiny island of Barbados in the West Indies. She was raised with her 2 brothers (O’Neil and Cameron) and 2 sisters (Ina and Etheline) in the county of St. John’s. Her mother died from cancer when she was around 11 years old, I think. Her name was Winnifred. Her father lived to a very old age. Despite being the youngest in her family, she left Barbados when she was about 18 years old for England, determined to work and bring her brothers and sisters to live with her. She left her first born daughter, Julie, with my father’s mother. In those days, this was common practice. There were no paternity tests; the child was given the once over by the family and if the child resembled the father, that was that. First she sent for my father, Randall Stoute, and they were married in London. Then, one by one, she brought her brothers and sisters and daughter to England. Her second daughter, Angela (me), was born in England, June 19, 1963. Her youngest daughter, Susan, was born August 10, 1966 in Toronto.