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Wendy Porteous

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Wendy Porteous

June 20, 1937 - March 25, 2017


Wendy Elizabeth Porteous (née Farris) died peacefully on March 25, 2017 at Cowichan Regional Hospital in Duncan, BC, age 79, of cancer.

Wendy was born on June 20, 1937 in Vancouver, BC to Betty (Bacone) and Ralph Farris. She attended Crofton House School, the University of British Columbia (BA, Political Science & International Relations and Graduate Teachers’ Diploma), the Sorbonne in Paris, the Free University of Berlin, and McGill (MA, Political Science). Wendy was fluent in English, French, and German.

After a brief first marriage, she met Timothy Porteous in Montreal where they married in 1968 (divorced 1985) and moved to Ottawa. Their only daughter, Vanessa Bell Porteous, was born in 1970. A lifelong civil servant for the Government of Canada, from 1968-2000 Wendy worked in many areas of public service, including the Treasury Board, the Royal Commission on the restructuring of government in the Northwest Territories, Labour Canada, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, the Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future (the “Spicer Commission”), General Police and Security, Indian Affairs and Northern Development and as Chief Federal Negotiator for the Federal Treaty Negotiation Office in British Columbia, where she moved in 1995.

After retirement in 2000, Wendy moved to a beautiful area just outside Duncan on Vancouver Island, where she pursued many lifelong interests, always with a dog at her side; these included gardening (on a grand scale), singing in choirs, painting and pastels, and bridge. She read deeply and widely, subscribing to the Times Literary Supplement, Harper’s Magazine, the New Yorker, and Lewis Lapham’s Quarterly, and attended many theatre and music performances. Wendy involved herself in politics and community affairs and travelled extensively to England, Italy, France, Austria, the Czech Republic, New York City, and across Canada. Her numerous friendships, old and new, were spread across the country and beyond. An active member of the Parish of St Peter’s, Quamichan, she was greatly involved in charitable works.

In 2012, Wendy’s beloved grandson, Alexander (“Sasha”) Lauchlan Porteous Weir was born.

Over the years, through her daughter’s partner Bruce, Wendy grew close to the Weir family of Edmonton: Betty-Lou, her son Doug, partner Debbie Chaba, and their sons Noah and Colin; and second son, Rob, wife Karla Tremblay (Toronto), and their son Malcolm (Montreal). They became like family, and Wendy spent several happy Christmases with them, including her last. She spoke of feeling buoyed up by their loving generosity.

When Wendy learned that no treatment would be effective for her cancer, she approached her end of life with the dynamism that defined her. She read theoretical physics and Celtic spirituality; she planned the hymns and lessons for her own memorial service; she organized her affairs, and she never stopped hauling in the wood for her Franklin stove. Though she was growing weak near the end, until her last few days Wendy remained vital and engaged with life. She had friends over for tea three days before she was taken into hospital. The final stage was quick. She was in hospital less than twelve hours. She went peacefully and gently, shortly after receiving a blessing from her Parish Minister.

Wendy is survived by her loving daughter Vanessa Bell Porteous, Vanessa’s partner Bruce Weir, and their son, Sasha, (Calgary); her sisters Gretchen Creery (Vancouver) and Jennifer Bernius (Ottawa); many beloved relatives; a wide and much-cherished circle of friends; and her Norwegian Elkhound, Liv, who has found a new home with a dear fellow dog-lover.

Those who knew Wendy will cherish her curiosity, humour and intelligence; her depth of feeling; her love of beauty in nature and art; her sense of family and history; her faith; her adventurousness, and her strong-headedness. Above all, we will remember Wendy’s irrepressible appetite for life.

A Memorial Service will be held on Friday May 19, 1:00 pm, at St Peter Quamichan, 5800 Church Road, Duncan BC. In lieu of flowers, a donation to St Peter Quamichan would be most appreciated.




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Pages: 12

From: H.W. Wallace Cremation and Burial Centre Staff

H.W. Wallace Cremation and Burial Centre Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Jerry and Julie
Relation: beloved neighbour

Vanessa ~
We will always remember your Mom – her lovely melodic laugh, and evenings spent chatting over a wood stove, in comfy chairs surrounded by books…she is a cherished part of our memories.
Much love to you and your family at this time.
~ Jerry and Julie xo

From: Gail Hanrahan
Relation: Friend of Vanessa's

My deepest sympathies for your loss, Vanessa, and all of Wendy’s family, and friends. Now i see where you get it from Vanessa. What a full life!

From: Alison Green
Relation: old neighbour - Rockcliffe

Dear Vanessa,
Our deepest condolences on the loss of your mother. The obituary sums her up beautifully. What an energetic woman Wendy was! Talk about a full participator in life. Our best to you and your family from Ottawa.
Alison Green, from old kitty-corner across the street

From: Shona Hurst
Relation: god daughter

Dear Vanessa,
I was saddened to hear the news. It immediately brought to mind my fondest memory of your mum – age eight, the 1st time I came back East to stay with the three of you. Because we were flying on Trudeau’s private plane my mother had insisted I wear these white gloves. The second we drove out Aunt Betty’s driveway, your mum turned to me and said, “Shona, throw those hideous things OUT THE WINDOW!” Wow! Godmother, Wendy was pretty cool. This summer when I received her email asking for the details on EXACTLY which Whistler Zip-line Tour the 2 of you should take, I again thought, WOW, she’s pretty cool.
I can hear Wendy now, “We’ll, I think that’s just TERRIFIC!”
Hugs and Kisses from all of us,
Shona Darrell Caitlin Hailey Nicola Fraser Sophie

From: Deborah Ferguson
Relation: friends

Dear Vanessa: I hope you had time with your mom at the end. It sounds as if she did not linger or suffer too much in the final days, at least I hope not. It sounds as if she had amazing passion for life, lived her days well and made quite a contribution to Canada in the government. I am so sorry for your loss. Mom died in 2011, and we didn’t always get along, but still there are days when I greatly miss her. Peace, love and light your way. Deborah

From: Allison Lynch
Relation: Relationship - How did you know the deceased?

My deepest condolences to you, Vanessa, Bruce and Sasha and your entire family. What an impressive woman! Like mother, like daughter. Sending love and light. Xoxo

From: Jennifer Bernius
Relation: sister

What a lovely obituary, Vanessa. Wendy shines through every word.

Thinking of you and wishing you the very best.

From: Pierrette Lucas
Relation: Ottawa

Dear Vanessa. Your mother Wendy was a “force de la nature”. So engaged in whatever life brought her. She sought adventures. Serious moments, followed by gales of laughter. She studied people, esoteric subjects, mondane facts, and too many things to list. She loved you and your family passionately. She loved her dogs, gardens, and wee drinks of whiskey. When working in various government agencies, she was completely dedicated to the tasks. She and your father were a great support to Pierre E. Trudeau both professionaly and personally. You resemble both your parents and I will always be intrigued and supportive of the paths you choose. Tres amicalement. Pierrette

From: Mark Brown
Relation: Relationship - How did you know the deceased?

So very for your loss Vanessa. Your Mom sounds like she lead a very rich life. Take joy in the memories she left with you and her legacy in your son.

Pages: 12

Service Schedule

  Funeral Service

Date & Time:
May 19, 2017
Beginning at 1:00am

St. Peters Quamichan
5800 Church Road
Duncan, BC Canada

5800 Church Road
Duncan, BC Canada

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