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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: Tim Reid
Relation: working colleagues

Wendy and I would team up on special assignments in Treasury Board and the Privy Council Office when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister.
Always fun to work with her.

From: Eric Hood
Relation: through being stranded

It was a delight to meet Wendy in Cape Dorset in the late ’70s, where we were stranded for over a week by a huge storm which made flying impossible. Her warmth, sense of humour and knowledge made want to stay in touch, and I was able to visit her subsequently in Ottawa. This must be a great loss for Vanessa and the family.

From: Catherine Ford & Ted Busheikin
Relation: Friends of Vanessa

Dear Vanessa — I know we spoke briefly the other night, but both of us wanted you to know how sorry we were to read of your mother’s death, albeit the obituary made it seem she was happy, active and very much alive right up to the end. It is a shame we never knew her, but if her daughter is any indication, she was as lovely, lively and talented as her obituary indicated. She lives on in you and your son.

From: Lynne Partel (Gregor)
Relation: Work colleague and friend

Wendy and I worked together on the federal team negotiating a treaty with the Nuu-Chah-Nuth people during the late ’90’s. I have vivid memories of our times together…particularly the trips to Torino and Port Alberti, where we learned so much about Nuu-Chah-Nulth culture. I remember we were an all-female team at the time and the Firs Nation negotiators would refer to us as “respected ladies’. Wendy insisted we all go down to the Somass River to swim on hot days, when negotiations broke off early with the heat. Wendy was fearless, optimistic, bold intelligent, determined…and loved to live life to the MAX. She was definitely one of a kind, and will be much missed.

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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