Table of Contents
Remembering our Former Library Colleagues and Friends
This section of our website provides a place for sharing the memories, life stories, and milestones that celebrate the lives of those who worked in libraries and information settings.
Each issue of our newsletter, ELAN, has a space for obituaries that provides brief information on many more of our former colleagues. The following tributes are now available by using the alphabetical index and toggling the names to view more information.
Anderson, Beryl Lapham, April 15, 1925–May 6, 2020
— Published in the Ottawa Citizen, May 9, 2020
Dr. Beryl Anderson was the daughter of G.H. Percy Anderson of Northport, N.S. and Hazel Annie (Fader) Anderson of St. Margarets Bay, N.S. Beryl was a graduate of classics at Dalhousie University (B.A. 1946 and M.A. 1949), library science at McGill University (B.L.S. 1956), and Walden University (Ph.D., 1980, “A Correlational Analysis of the Reference Transaction Records of a Canadian Bank Library”). She began her teaching career in schools in Quebec and Nova Scotia between 1946 and 1949. From 1950 to 1955, she was a lecturer in Classics at Dalhousie University before becoming Associate Professor, McGill Graduate Library School 1956 to 1971. After completing her doctorate, Dr. Anderson was Chief of the Library Documentation Centre, National Library of Canada until her retirement in 1987. Her primary research focus was in the field of special libraries: she authored the directory, Special Libraries and Information Centres in Canada in 1970. She also compiled various reports on special library work in the 1970s and 1980s and authored a synoptic chapter on Canadian libraries from 1970-79 in the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science in 1983. Dr. Anderson was a long-time member of the Canadian Library Association, the Archaeological Institute of America, the Canadian Institute in Greece and Friends of the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, where she volunteered for many years. She enjoyed several trips to excavation sites in Greece and Turkey with the Archaeological Institute.
— Comments by Maria Calderisi
I first met Beryl Anderson in 1972 as I was nearing the end of my music studies at McGill and wondering what to do next. My favourite professor had noticed that I spent a lot of time in the library and wondered if I had thought about librarianship. The idea was attractive to me and I went to see Beryl who was a professor at the Library School. She was a most straightforward and honest person, encouraging but cautious, especially since she knew, regretfully, that a BMus was not an acceptable prerequisite for the programme at McGill. She thought, though, that subject specialization was on the rise in the profession and was pleased to tell me that the National Library had just recently engaged such specialists as Irene Aubrey for Children’s Literature and Liana Van der Bellen for Rare Books, and of course that Dr. Helmut Kallmann had been named Chief of the newly-formed Music Division. After visiting him in Ottawa to quiz him about the future of music librarianship in Canada, I then found the ideal MLS programme at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a combination of librarianship and musicology, and was hired by the National Library in the summer of 1973.
I had kept in touch with Beryl during this time and she herself joined the Library to create the Library Documentation Centre that same year, if I’m not mistaken. So we became colleagues, although at quite different administrative levels, and eventually we became friends. I admired her dedication and tenacity in her work, and was fascinated by her researches in Greek history and archeology, but it was our shared love of music and her continuing interest and encouragement that drew us closer. I am so grateful to have known Beryl and shall remember her always.
Bewley, Lois M., April 3, 1926– Aug. 28, 2023
— Vancouver Sun, September 9, 2023
Lois M. Bewley (née Crook) died August 28, 2023 age of 97, at the Royal Ascot Care Centre in Vancouver, BC. Born in 1926 in Regina, Sask., she was predeceased by her six siblings and by many colleagues and cherished friends, in particular the late Sylvia Crooks and Alice Bacon. Lois was a graduate of UBC with post-graduate degrees in Library Science from U of Toronto (’49) and U of Illinois (’66). She taught at the U of California, Berkeley, and was instrumental in the establishment of a public library system and of a state-wide program of continuing professional education. In 1969 she joined the library faculty at UBC, which became her academic home for the rest of her career.
Lois was passionate about teaching and a strong advocate of free public library service in Canada and the legislation to make it possible. Over the years, she was engaged as a consultant regarding library development and legislation in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
Lois was nationally recognized for her defense of intellectual freedom. At an AGM of the BC Library Association (BCLA) in the late 80s, she announced the formation of the Intellectual Freedom, Education and Defense Fund to fight against literary repression. In 2007, the BCLA renamed the Fund in her honour in recognition of her extensive career and her influence in promoting intellectual freedom in libraries in BC and throughout Canada.
Lois was very active in her professional associations—as President of the BCLA and Canadian Library Association (CLA) and as a member and Chair of many Canadian and American library and library educators committees. She chaired the Vancouver Public Library Foundation and wrote extensively on library legislation, as well as writing or giving articles, speeches, and interviews on intellectual freedom, censorship, and the freedom to read. She was a member of Ex Libris Association. Lois was recognized with her profession's highest awards -by the BCLA with the Helen Gordon Stewart Award for “Outstanding Achievement”, by the Canadian Library Association for “Outstanding Service to Librarianship,” and by the Canadian Public Library Association for “Outstanding Public Library Service.” UBC has a graduate student scholarship named for Lois in honour of her teaching and devotion to public service. One of her most treasured awards was from her students, the “Just Desserts” award (UBC Library Students' Association).
Lois is remembered by friends and family for her feistiness, her engaging and sometimes outrageous sense of humour, her legendary love of books and reading, and her never-failing curiosity about life. She travelled widely, loved music (opera in particular), and was very active - as a golfer, fisherperson (dry-fly and salt-chuck), sailor, curler, lawn bowler, and walker.
More information about Lois Bewley can be found at the University of British Columbia Library Archives (PDF download).
Bowron, Albert Wilson, Oct. 13, 1919—Jan. 27, 2018
— Toronto Globe and Mail, February 1, 2018
Albert Bowron of Toronto passed away early morning on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at the age of 98. He was fortunate to spend his last days well cared for by the staffs of Belmont House and Grace Hospital, and closely attended by his family and friends. Predeceased by his brother, Balfour (Agnes); and his later-life companion, Dorothy; he is survived by his brother, John (Barbara); ex-wives, Margaret Cunningham and Beate Bowron (Gary); children, Julian Bowron (Marie) and Alexandra Bowron (Friedi); granddaughters, Ella Casanova-Bowron and Flurina Casaulta (Damian); and great-grandson, Juri Marco. Born in 1919 in Hamilton, Ontario, Al was deeply affected by the death of his beloved mother when he was 12. He attended Hillfield School, worked for his father's companies, then entered University of Toronto, where his studies were interrupted by service as a draftsman with the RCAF and surveyor on the Alaska Highway. U of T is where Al met his first wife, Margaret, and many of the close friends he would know for the rest of his life. Graduating with a BA, Library Science in 1949, his early career took him from Vancouver to London, England and Southwestern Ontario. Al and Margaret travelled extensively, drove a classic MG in road rallies, and developed a progressive social circle, which included eccentric locals and European emigres. Julian was born in 1958 and the family moved to Toronto in 1960. Following a stint at the Toronto Public Library, in 1964 Al was appointed Chief Librarian in Scarborough where he oversaw significant expansion including the construction of the Cedarbrae branch (Irving Grossman, architect). Al 'imported' librarians from all over the world to the SPL and met his second wife, Beate, there in 1967. After marrying, they travelled widely, including a '76 - '77 trip around the world. In 1969, Al began a successful second career as Canada's first full-time library consultant. From '69 to '92 he produced dozens of reports on libraries, large and small, in every part of Canada, as well as regular articles for Quill and Quire. Al and Beate's daughter, Alexandra, was born in 1979. They purchased 'Toro Villa' in 1981, near Creemore, Ontario where many pleasant weekends were shared among the abandoned orchards.
Never a fusty librarian, Al championed innovations inspired by his extensive tours of European libraries (courtesy of the Canada Council), including radio broadcasts, bookmobiles, community event spaces, movie and record lending. A passionate defender of free speech and President of the OLA ('66-'67) and Ex-Libris ('93, '94), he organized the Banned Books display for the CLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee ('60), spoke and lectured extensively and served on many boards and committees such as the Writers Development Trust, the Stephen Leacock Awards and OECA. In 1980, he was awarded the U of T's 60th Anniversary Award for Outstanding Contribution to Library and Information Science, and in 1986, the Alumni Jubilee award. Quick with a joke or wry comment, Al was the life of the party. In his later years, he enjoyed many an adventure with Elderhostel Ontario, trips to the Stratford Festival, stays in Ontario's B & Bs, volunteering at the Vic Book Sale, and sketching old barns in the countryside. At the age of 80 he rode his bicycle around Lake Ontario on the Waterfront Trail. Al was a talented amateur painter, who experimented with a wide range of styles from abstract expressionism to watercolour landscapes. He introduced his children to art, the joys of books, Ontario's fall fairs, The Bruce Trail, cross-country skiing, and travel. Up until December 2017, Al would still take the bus, or accept a ride from his generous brother, John, for 'coffee and a sticky bun' at his local coffee shop. His drive for new experiences and overall lust for life will live on in all who have known him. Cremation has taken place, internment alongside his parents in Hamilton to take place in a private ceremony. In accordance with his (well-organized) final wishes, we will 'Have a party…at an appropriate location…at which jazz…will be the background to… Canadian wines for friends and relatives.'
— Comment by Lorne Bruce
“Al” (as he was known in a shorthand kind of way) came to meet me one afternoon in 1978. We talked for about an hour, and he covered many things that he thought a young administrator should be on the lookout for. Of course, he made a pitch for doing a library survey for our board!! But that was his secondary concern. He was really more interested to pass on his experience and knowledge of the library world and to make a new friend.
Coburn, Morton, Dec. 28, 1921–July 19, 2022
Morton Coburn died at the age of 100 years in Chicago, Illinois. He was born on December 28, 1921, in Chicago. After serving in the U.S. army during WWII, he attended, on the GI Bill, the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana where he earned a degree in education and a master’s degree in librarianship. He worked in university libraries in Kansas and Ohio before finding a job in Alabama in a military library. In 1956 he became the third director of the Edmonton Public Library, a position he held until 1972. During this period, he oversaw the unprecedented expansion of the EPL system, including the construction of seven branch libraries and a new downtown library, the City of Edmonton’s centennial project, which opened in 1967 and is now called the Stanley A. Milner Library. It replaced an older Carnegie Library, which was torn down by the City. Recognizing a dire need for locally-trained professional librarians, Morton collaborated with Bruce Peel, who had been appointed chief librarian at the University of Alberta in 1955, to create a school of library science at the University of Alberta, which began offering a bachelor’s degree in library science in 1968. After he left EPL, he served for over thirty-eight years as director of library building programs with Chicago Public Library, working on the new main library and over eighty branches until he retired at the age of 91. He held professional memberships in the Canadian Library Association, the Alberta Library Association, and the American Library Association. He was president of the Library Association of Alberta 1958-1959.
Morton Coburn was a member of the Ex Libris Association for many years.A short YouTube video records the legacy of his years at Edmonton Public Library.
Cockshutt, Margaret Evelyn, Feb. 27, 1927 – July 9, 2023
— Contributed by Lynne Howarth
Margaret Cockshutt passed away peacefully, on July 9, 2023, at Hazelton Place, Toronto, in her 97th year. As the obituary published in the Globe & Mail further notes, “she studied at St. Hilda's College at the University of Toronto, and went on to pursue a Master's Degree in Library Science with a specialty in Classification Theory. She devoted her entire teaching career to the Faculty of Library and Information Science at U of T.” The Faculty of Information announcement on its website, July 14, 2023, adds that, “Professor Cockshutt (BLS 1949, MLS 1964) was librarian and teacher of cataloguing at the University of Toronto, School of Library Science from her graduation in 1949 to 1961. She became a full-time instructor in 1964. She was also active in the administration of the School as Administrative Assistant to Dean Bertha Bassam, and, from 1984–87, as Associate Dean.” She retired at the rank of Emeritus Professor in 1992.
While being acknowledged as a specialist in classification theory, she was, in fact, recognized internationally for her deep knowledge of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). In her paper, “Dewey Today: An Analysis of Recent Editions”, presented at the 21st Allerton Park Institute in 1975, as part of the Dewey Centennial, Professor Emeritus Cockshutt wrote, “In my own research on classification systems, I have become increasingly fascinated by the ways in which the classification systems themselves are determined, shaped and changed by the people who devise and revise them.” By 1975 she had already completed five years as the Canadian appointee to the select Decimal Classification Editorial Policy Committee (DCEPC). Serving among a group of ten internationally recognized experts in classification systems and their application, Cockshutt was one of “the people who devise and revise them”, having engaged in her advisory role on the DCEPC in the development of editions 18, 19, and 20 of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). As John P. Comaromi — himself an internationally recognized classification scholar — wrote in praise of the 19th edition of DDC in a 1975 paper, “Knowledge Organized is Knowledge Kept”, “Its most impressive quality … was the abundant concern for making clear to the classifier how the system works and what is meant at those points where meanings may be vague.” I think that assessment applies equally well to how Professor Emeritus Cockshutt approached both her editorial responsibilities and her classroom teaching.
I never had the privilege of taking one of Cockshutt's legendary classes in cataloguing and classification, but remember with fondness my time working with her at the Faculty of Information. She had high standards for her students, no more so than for herself. She was a generous mentor to new faculty, a policy and procedure wonk within the school, a steady, reliable advisor to Deans, and a woman of great integrity. I was delighted to be invited as a friend and colleague to her 80th birthday. There I learned first-hand of how much she was loved and respected as “Aunt Muggsie.” She spoke so fondly and proudly of her family, of time savoured together, and of the pleasures of the many summer pursuits she relished at the cottage once July arrived and another school year was done. While I knew Margaret best as a colleague, what I will remember most is her sense of humour and infectious laugh. When approaching a difficult concept in classification with a class, she was renowned for exclaiming, “Here's where we separate the women from the girls!” Guaranteed to elicit a laugh, she managed to make something difficult more approachable. If we were to create a classification number to represent Professor Emerita Cockshutt, it would surely fit somewhere between “remarkable” and “truly memorable.”
Henderson, Shirley Diane, Aug. 25, 1935 – Dec. 5, 2019
— Contributed by Irena Lewycka
Shirley Diane (Stott) Henderson died on December 5, 2019, at Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto.
Diane attained her BLS (1964) and MLS (1967) at the University of Toronto. She began working in the catalogue section of the University of Toronto library in 1964. Diane was for many years the Chief Librarian of the Faculty of Library and Information Science Library at the University of Toronto from 1973 to her retirement in 1996. She had originally joined the Faculty as a lecturer in 1969. Diane continued her studies and received an MBA (York University) in 1979. In her later years, she dedicated her time to volunteering with the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Field Ornithologists, and Retired Academics and Librarians of the University of Toronto. Diane was an intensely independent person, an indefatigable traveller, a keen theatregoer, an opera buff, and an enthusiastic gardener. She was passionate about libraries and books.
Diane was co-author (with Edith Tyne Jarvi) of Guide to Basic Reference Materials for Canadian Libraries, 4th edition, published for the Faculty of Library Science by the University of Toronto Press in 1974.
Diane was a contributor to the National Library's publication by Claire England, Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery in Canada (Ottawa, 1983).
Diane was an ELAN special edition editor who wrote “University of Toronto Faculty of Information Studies” for ELAN's Summer 2004 special issue A History of Education for Library and Information Studies in Canada.
Diane wrote “ELA’s Early Years, 1990-1995” for the Fall 2004 issue of ELAN (p. 9 & 18) which celebrated the 100th anniversary of library education in Canada. As well, she compiled ELAN's regular column on “News from Canadian Library and Information Studies Schools“ between 2007-2016.
Diane Henderson served on the executive committee of the Retired Academics and Librarians of the University of Toronto (RALUT) as Treasurer and became Vice-President in 2009.
Ingles, Ernest Boyce, Dec. 30, 1948–Sept. 17, 2020
— Contributed by Merrill Distad to the Bibliographical Society of Canada and posted on the Librarianship.ca website on September 18, 2020
A graduate of the Universities of Calgary and British Columbia, Ernie Ingles, BA, MA, MLS, FRSC, was one of Canada’s preeminent academic librarians and library innovators. During a professional career spanning more than four decades, he served successively as the founding Director of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (now Canadiana.org); University Librarian of the University of Regina; Vice-Provost & University Librarian and (later) Director of the School of Library & Information Studies at the University of Alberta. He served, usually in executive capacity, on no fewer than twenty-five professional associations, societies, government boards and committees, including as President of the Canadian Library Association (CLA); of the Bibliographical Society of Canada (BSC/SBC); of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL); and of the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL).
Mr Ingles also provided the inspiration and driving force in linking Alberta library resources and services through the creation of Alberta’s NEOS library consortium; of The Alberta Library (TAL) lending consortium of 300 libraries across the Province; of the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library; of the Health Knowledge Network (HKN); and the First Nations Information Connection. These initiatives changed the face of library service across Alberta, and provided a much-studied and imitated model of library cooperation and sharing for the rest of Canada, as well as abroad.
Concern for the future of the library profession led him to establish the Northern Exposure to Leadership Institute (NELI) to expose recently graduated librarians who have shown leadership potential to an intensive exploration of vision, risk taking, creativity, communication, and differing styles of leadership. More than 400 librarians practicing in Canada have learned from their NELI experience. In recognition, the American Library Association presented Ingles with the 2017 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship.
Mr Ingles’ work at CIHM/Canadiana.org led to the filming and later digital preservation of Canada’s printed, published heritage of books, periodicals, and pamphlets. It also inspired his creation of the Peel’s Prairie Provinces Website at the University of Alberta containing full digital texts of many thousands of Western Canadian books and printed ephemera. His wide-ranging research in western Canadian history and bibliography, library history, library automation and management, and the preservation of the printed record, yielded ten published books, fifty-seven articles and chapters in books, and almost 200 conference papers and public presentations. These cumulative achievements garnered twenty-nine professional awards and four medals, including the Tremaine Medal of the Bibliographical Society of Canada. Of these many awards, he was perhaps most proud of his election in 2001 as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada – the first practicing librarian to be so honoured – and Red Crow College’s award in 2011 of the honorary degree of Blackfoot Eminent Scholar Kainai PhD, along with the Blackfoot title “Kaaahssinnin” (“Elder”). As a visionary, Ernie Ingles led and inspired many others to follow.
— Comment by Wendy Newman
I was a Mentor at the first three cohorts of Northern Exposure to Leadership, which Ernie created and directed. It was a transformative experience for everyone involved, and its impact will be visible for a long time to come. In inspiring the 8Rs study as well, Ernie shone a light on human resources in the entire Canadian library sector. He always prompted librarians to consider themselves leaders of a big tent movement, and never just operators of institutions. Never forgotten.
— Association of Research Libraries Memorial to Ernie Ingles, published September 25, 2020 [authored by Kaylyn Groves]
Ernest Boyce “Ernie” Ingles, Librarian Emeritus and former vice-provost and chief librarian for the University of Alberta, died on September 17, 2020, at age 71.
Early in his career, Ingles was the founding director of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (now Canadiana.org) 1978–1983 and university librarian for the University of Regina 1984–1990. At the University of Alberta he served as vice-provost and chief librarian 1990–2013 and director of the School of Library and Information Studies 2010–2013.
In 1993 Ingles established the Northern Exposure to Leadership Institute (NELI) to expose new librarians to an exploration of vision, risk taking, creativity, communication, and differing styles of leadership. More than 400 librarians have participated in NELI. In recognition, the American Library Association presented Ingles with the 2017 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship.
Of his many honors, Ingles was most proud of two: in 2001 he was the first practicing librarian to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2011 he received the honorary degree Blackfoot Eminent Scholar Kainai PhD from Red Crow College along with the Blackfoot title Kaaahssinnin (“Elder”).
Over the course of his career, Ingles served as president of the Canadian Library Association, the Bibliographical Society of Canada, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries, and the OCLC Members Council.
Ingles was active in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) throughout his time as the ARL member representative from the University of Alberta, culminating in his service on the ARL Board of Directors 2010–2013. He served on numerous ARL committees and working groups, including the Statistics and Assessment Committee 1991–1993 and 2008–2010, Diversity Committee 1994–1996 and 2000–2002, Working Group on Copyright Issues 1994–1997, Information Policies Committee 1995–1997, SPARC Steering Committee (ex officio) 2001, Research Library Leadership and Management Committee 2003–2005, Task Force on Strategic Planning 2004, Nominating Committee 2009, Membership Committee 2011–2013, and AAUP/ARL Working Group on University Press/Research Library Collaboration 2012–2013.
— Calgary Herald, published October 26, 2020
Ernie departed this life at the University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton in his 71st year with his wife and daughter by his side. Loving husband of Mary-Jo Romaniuk and proud father of Erin Moore (Jamie). Doting grandfather to Matthew, Wyatt, and Linden, whom he cherished. Predeceased by his parents, Robert of Calgary and Muriel of Kelowna.
Born in Calgary, Ernie graduated from the University of Calgary with a BA and MA degrees in history and the history of agricultural technology. In 1974 he graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MLS winning the Ruth Cameron Medal for Librarianship.
Ernie Ingles was one of Canada's preeminent academic librarians and library innovators. During a professional career spanning more than four decades, his first role was as the Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian at the University of Calgary where he contributed to the development of their special collections most notably the Canadian Authors Manuscript collection and the Canadian Architectural Archives. In 1977 he worked with a group to establish the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM) where he became the first Executive Director and CEO. His work at CIHM led to the filming and later digital preservation of Canada's printed and published works. Thereafter, he served as the University Librarian of the University of Regina. In 1990 he joined the University of Alberta as Chief Librarian, assuming the role of Associate Vice President (Learning Services) and ultimately Vice-Provost & University Librarian. Prior to his retirement in 2015 he served as Director of the School of Library & Information Studies.
Ernie served in executive capacity on more than twenty-five professional associations, societies, government boards and committees including holding leadership roles in the Bibliographical Society of Canada; the Canadian Association of Research Libraries; and of the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries; OCLC Members Council and the Association of Research Libraries.
Ernie was the driving force in linking Alberta library resources and services through the creation of Alberta's NEOS library consortium; The Alberta Library; the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library; the Health Knowledge Network; and the First Nations Information Connection.
These initiatives changed library service in Alberta, and provided a model of library cooperation that was imitated across Canada and abroad. He was very proud to receive Red Crow College's award of the honorary degree of Blackfoot Eminent Scholar Kainai, along with the Blackfoot title “Kaaahssinnin”.
His crowning achievement was the creation of the Northern Exposure to Leadership Institute (NELI) that is internationally acclaimed as a landmark contribution to professional leadership development. More than 400 librarians have developed their leadership potential through the NELI experience. In recognition, the American Library Association presented Ingles with the 2017 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship.
His research in western Canadian history and bibliography and library administration yielded ten published books, fifty-seven articles and chapters in books, and almost 200 conference papers and public presentations. It also inspired his creation of the Peel's Prairie Provinces Website at the University of Alberta containing full digital texts of many thousands of Western Canadian books and printed ephemera. Ernie's body of scholarly work culminated in numerous awards including the Tremaine Medal of the Bibliographical Society of Canada. Of these awards, he was perhaps most proud of his 2001 election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
In 2013 Ernie was diagnosed with an inherited disorder, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. Rather than accepting the diagnosis passively he became a Patient Services Coordinator with AlphaNet Canada. In 2019 he received a double lung transplant.
What many remember Ernie for best was his ability to make each person feel special and capable. He believed in the innate ability that we all have to achieve great things no matter who we are or how we how we lived. He instilled a sense of self-belief in those he met. Indeed, what brought him great joy was seeing others, the library community, and especially his family, thrive.
The Ernest (Ernie) B. Ingles Reading Room located in Bruce Peel Special Collections, University of Alberta Library.
Kehoe, Douglas Edward Joseph, July 4, 1942–Jan. 2, 2023
— Contributed by Leslie B. Koster
Douglas Edward Joseph Kehoe was born in Toronto on July 4, 1942 and lived there his entire life. He faithfully maintained friendships and connections from primary school, to university, to those he met throughout his career as a librarian and Publisher’s representative.
After getting his library degree, Douglas joined the North York Public Library in the early 70s, and climbed quickly through the ranks, from public service at the Bathurst Heights District Branch, to the Collection Development Department, to L2 (team leader) at the Don Mills District Branch in the late 70s, to Manager of the Fairview District Branch. He then moved into the Collection Department in the Technical Services Division. In 1987 Douglas retired from the library system and went on to be involved in the Canadian publishing scene, both with Gordon S. Garner Associates and with McClelland and Stewart, as Library Sales Manager from 1988 to 1998. He returned to the library world as the Sunday Manager of the North York Central Library from the Fall of 2007 until June 2012.
I knew Douglas for 50 years and I was privileged to call him friend. He was a most erudite gentleman with a delightful sense of humour; he was a master of the bon mot, through which the simple picnic became a “Grande fete champetre” and hello was “a gracious good afternoon”. He was a devoted supporter and collector of hippopotamuses of all shapes and sizes! Douglas’s great attention and kindness to his friends was repaid for all of us, by the dedication and care given him by his soulmate and husband, Richard Henry, who was there for him at all times and especially when Douglas most needed the support of a tireless advocate.
People from his world of friends have sent memories and sincere words of sympathy and respect for this wonderful man.
– “He was a true Prince of a man who inspired so many people in the library and the book world. He was a legend at the Fairview Library for his exceptional leadership qualities. I know of several staff who went on to library school with his encouragement…it was an honour to know him.”
– “When I started as a library rep with my publishing firm he shepherded me through, showing me the ropes around conferences, sharing his contacts and what would come to be known as ‘best practices’. He didn’t have to, but that generosity was part of what made him one of the great gentlemen of the industry. Only HE could have tracked down the industrial strength butter tarts we enjoyed at the Charlottetown Conference, and only HE would have understood the necessity of dropping to his knees with me on the path to Green Gables, chanting “Oh she, who pays our salaries!” I am truly sorry for the next generation of reps, who will not have had a gallant and knowledgeable guide such as Douglas to explain what is really important.”
– “I am so saddened that the world has lost one of its great lights, but the brightness he brought to my life is something I will always remember and treasure.”
L’Esperance, Jean, May 7, 1934–July 8, 2022
— Contributed by Wendy Scott
On July 8th 2022, Jean Larence Mills l’Esperance, librarian and archivist, died in Ottawa. Born in England, she married David l’Esperance of Montreal in the 1950s, and earned an MA and PhD in history from McGill University. Her wide-ranging career included positions at a midwifery hospital and at McGill University’s School of Social Work, then at the National Library of Canada and Archives Canada.
Jean was instrumental in the 1980 Canadian Human Rights Act granting wage parity to librarians with historians, citing discriminatory practice between male and female employees. Chris Rodgers a colleague, described her contribution as follows:
“Jean was Chief Steward of the new LS local at the National Library/Public Archives. TheLibrary Science (LS) Group in 1976/77 changed unions (along with about 6 other groups). She organized meetings with the membership to study the very low wages of librarians in the Public Service (and in society at large). They were able to establish that the Historical Research Group (Archivists) earned about $3,000 more than did librarians; archivists were 75% male-dominated at the time, and librarians were about 75% female dominated. This fit the criteria for a pay equity complaint before the new Canadian Human Rights Commission, but under the legislation we had to exhaust other means to try and resolve the issue.”
More meetings, many of which were organized by Jean, most of which were to explain why the union had to at the time, shift from Arbitration for contract dispute resolution, to Conciliation/strike, why grievances had to be filed, etc., both actions of which were not looked upon favorably by all of the membership. The grievances failed, but made the membership aware of the issue; the Conciliation Board ruled the issue of pay equity to be beyond its purvey so a complaint was filed. More meetings [were held] with those members of the LS Group in the union, who had been selected by the parties as exemplars of the work performed by the LS Group. In the fall of 1980, the CHRC pronounced in favour of the Group. In December, the cheques were issued, retroactive to March 1978.
There were other battles ahead. The larger Public Service-wide pay equity study in the 1990s not only vindicated the early work by Sabine Sonnemann, Jean l”Esperance, and Sandy Burrows, but since the comparison with the archivists involved a lower paid male dominated group, librarians received an increase in equalization adjustments. Around the time of the Public-Service-wide study, at the negotiating table, we were able to merge to equalization adjustments from the 1980 LS/HR complaint with the equalization adjustments from the larger study to have everything come together in the collective agreement.
Librarians in the Federal Government and its agencies can thank the original pioneers, such as Jean, Sabine Sonnemann and others for the fact that at some levels, pay was increased by over 10%. Sabine Sonneman and Jean published an article in the Canadian Library Journal about the decision, on December 17th 1980, of the Canadian Human Rights Commissionto order Treasury Board to pay librarians a salary equal to that of historians. In 2000, Sabine Sonneman received a Status of Women Award in 2000 for her pay equity effort.
Jean was passionate about history, and had a remarkable memory. After retiring, she was an active volunteer for the Ottawa Historical Society. A celebration of remembrance was held July 17th at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, attended by the many friends who had supprted her during her months of hospitalization leading up to her death.
McLeod, Lori, 1959–Dec. 17, 2019
— Contributed by Leslie McGrath, former Senior Department Head, Osborne Collection, Toronto Public Library
We were grieved to learn of the death of our dear friend and colleague Lori McLeod, who passed away in December from cancer. Lori obtained her M.L.S. degree at the University of Toronto’s library school, now the Faculty of Information, and began at working at the Toronto Public Library’s Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books not long after the Collection opened in its Huron Street location, in the Lillian H. Smith branch. Lori chose Osborne after being redeployed from Deer Park, and how fortunate we at Osborne were when she arrived and began at once to study the cataloguing of rare books. Often having to chart her own instruction and to seek out knowledge, Lori was delighted to be sent, largely through the generosity of The Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections, to Rare Book School in Virginia for a specialized, intensive course. The cataloguing of the Osborne Collection was Lori’s priority, and the support given to this important project by the library and especially by the Friends gave her great encouragement.
Lori told me she liked to think about how patrons would use the catalogue records, and would carefully include the terms and references that would be most helpful to them. Though a warm, engaging, and knowledgeable lecturer, willing to assist colleagues by taking classes and groups, Lori was happiest doing reference work and cataloguing. Modest and self-effacing, Lori put everyone else’s needs first, from desk schedules to holiday weeks, and while devoted to her own family she took a personal interest in those of her colleagues. Above all, we will remember Lori’s beautiful smile and generous outlook, her habits of always seeing the best in everyone and of making difficult situations better. Years of ill health took a toll on her strength, but never affected her caring and compassionate nature. Lori will always be missed by those fortunate enough to have known her.
Piternick, Anne Brearley, Oct. 13, 1926 – Jan. 20, 2023
— Obituary published by Dignity Memorial for a service on March 30, 2023
Anne Brearley Piternick was born in Blackburn, Lancashire to Ellen and Walter Harrison Clayton, sister to Walter and Ellen, and also to Betty, Mary, Florence, Tom, Harry, and Norman, her Father’s first family.
Anne’s early years were spent in Blackburn and, during the war, in a small village in Yorkshire. She attended Manchester University where she graduated in 1945 with an Honours BA in English Language and Literature, and a year later, a Teacher’s Diploma. She began her library career in 1952 as an Information Officer for the Research Department of a Manchester textile company. After qualifying as an Associate of the British Library Association (later, Fellow), Anne learned about opportunities at the University of British Columbia Library and, in 1956, flew to Vancouver when she was offered a position as Librarian. She never looked back. In 1966, she was hired as Associate Professor in the UBC School of Librarianship (now the School of Information), and then Professor (1978) until her retirement in 1991.
Her teaching and research interests included special libraries, authorship, indexing, and access to the scientific literature. In the 1970s, her engagement in advancing Canadian bibliography to reflect the growth of research and publication led to her serving as Chair of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Awards Committee for Bibliography and Archives, the first time these areas were supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. With the advent of computerization, her work on alternatives for the scientific journal, scientific authorship, and online searching were seminal contributions, including development of a course in online searching. Her final research project, using the development of the Historical Atlas of Canada, investigated the representation of cartographic information visually in the transition from print to computer.
Anne was active in the UBC Faculty Association and was the Senate Faculty Association Representative (1969–72), at that time the only other woman in Senate apart from the Dean of Women. She was Associate Dean of Arts (1985–90), the first woman to serve in the Dean of Arts office.
Professional activities included President of the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services (1969–70), the Canadian Library Association (1976–77), member of the National Library Advisory Board (1978–84), and of Committees of SSHRC (1981-87). She received many awards and distinctions for services to her profession and University. In 1987, she was Distinguished Visiting Professor at UCLA, and in her retirement, President, Association of Professors Emeriti (2003), and an active Member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Enhancement (2004–22) and Chair (2018–20).
Shortly after her arrival in Vancouver, Anne was joined by Neil Brearley, and they married and built a home together. In 1971 after they divorced, Anne married George Piternick. Anne and George shared their lives for thirty years until his death in 1999. He supported her busy career and they had great happiness together. They travelled in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest USA to explore native cultures and landscapes, as well as to England, Europe and Scandinavia. Their shared interest in First Nations culture was reflected in long-standing support of the UBC Museum of Anthropology. They were great hosts and Anne’s wonderful cooking made their dinner parties legendary. Her fashion sense was notable, as was her talent for sewing stylish clothes.
After George’s death, Anne continued her full life in their home, and then from 2015, in Tapestry at UBC, maintaining her committee work, patronage, concerts, gallery visits, and meals with acquaintances of all ages. She died peacefully on January 20, 2023, after a brief illness.
“A real force of nature,” Anne will be much missed by her relatives and friends for her generosity, talent for connecting people, and commitment to giving back.
On their marriage day, George gave Anne a necklace with a quote from John Donne: “All other things to their destruction draw, Only our love hath no decay; This no to-morrow hath, nor yesterday; Running it never runs from us away, But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.”
Richards, (William) Neil, May 11, 1949–Jan. 12, 2018
Neil Richards was born on May 11, 1949, in Ontario. He began his career with the University of Saskatchewan Library as a library assistant in the reference department in 1971 and then in the special collections department until his retirement in 2002. Neil’s life work was preserving the history and archival record of Saskatchewan's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, while at the same time playing an active role in Saskatoon gay activism, AIDS awareness campaigns, and human rights, which was a doubly challenging prospect in the 1970s when speaking out could risk employment, housing, and family, not to mention incarceration or at the least police harassment. In the early 1980s, he took an unpaid leave of absence from the Library and worked as a volunteer at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in Toronto. Returning to Saskatchewan in 1983 he worked on some of the earliest AIDS awareness campaigns, again, in an era where such work was stigmatized and before government health and education organizations were prepared to advocate for the needs of people living with AIDS. The collection in the University includes more than 10,000 books as well as periodicals, buttons, posters, private letters, postcards, mimeographed newsletters, manuscripts, and flags used by activists. Many of the materials date back to the settlement era in the Prairies. It is reputed to be the largest collection of LGBTQ2S+ books and ephemera of any university library in Canada. He also donated a massive collection of documents, well over 17 metres of boxes, to the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, the first donation of its kind to a Canadian public archives.
Neil was a significant community leader whose professional and volunteer efforts almost single-handedly provided a legacy of rich research material for generations to come. After retirement, he researched and wrote Celebrating a History of Diversity: Lesbian and Gay Life in Saskatchewan, an annotated chronology of the Province’s queer past that was published in 2006, an essential resource for researchers. In 1995 Neil was the initial recipient of the University of Saskatchewan President’s Service Award and in 2005 he received the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal. In 2010, Neil’s contributions were formally recognized when the University of Saskatchewan’s sexual and gender diversity archival collection was renamed the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity in his honour. In 2018, his legacy was further honoured with the posthumous award of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.
There is a short video about the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity at the University of Saskatchewan.
Ross, Catharine Sheldrick, Nov. 4, 1945–Sept. 11, 2021
— Contributed by Lynne McKechnie, Paulette Rothbauer, Lucía Cedeira Serantes, and Pam McKenzie, Faculty of Information & Media Studies, Western University, London, ON, Canada
Catherine Sheldrick Ross, FRSC, had a way of loping down hallways, across campuses, striding up to podiums—she cut an unmistakable, instantly recognizable figure, with her bag slung over her shoulder, a relaxed slouch, arms swinging at her sides. For a while, during her stint as Dean of the Faculty of Information & Media Studies she had a scooter – one of those foot-powered kind that folded up and could be carried into meetings. Always graceful, comfortable, and on the move. That is until she saw you and she would stop and move towards you with energy, eagerness, and an openness that would put you into the light of her attention, and you found yourself telling her about your latest adventures, accomplishments, exploits, or about whatever last fresh hell you were dealing with. And she had an enviable gift as a listener, and almost always she would say very little, but somehow always said the perfect thing, the thing you most needed to hear. It is no surprise that Catherine’s key methodologies relied on these same characteristics whether the context was academic leadership, reading and reference research, teaching, sharing research with librarians and library workers, or mentorship of new scholars and students. She always began by understanding context and need from doing careful background research; she paid close attention to what people were saying and doing; she listened carefully and without judgment, and she created opportunities for people to share their ideas and interpretations. And then, mindful of her audiences always, she took responsibility for the stories she told of what she learned—in lucid, lively, and engaging form—whether committee report, strategic plan, scholarly article, children’s illustrated book, LIS textbook, or presentation, guest lecture, keynote speech, and more.
Catherine was a brilliant scholar who made theoretical and empirical advances while always keeping the needs of professional practice at the forefront. In addition to publishing highly-cited and award-winning research articles, she made a difference to generations of reference librarians through her thorough, well-written, sensible evidence-based guides to professional communication, the reference interview, and readers and reading. She was a collaborative researcher and worked with colleagues in Canada, the United States, Japan, and Norway. Her MLIS students remember her as a brilliant instructor whose teaching and research had a positive impact on their professional careers.
Several former doctoral students and colleagues shared how grateful they were to have known Catherine. They remember her as one of their academic heroes and most influential mentors. She was vital and supportive, intellectually generous, and gracious with her time and attention to beginning scholars. She was well-respected, calm and measured during crises, and had a wry sense of humour. She mentored both by what she did and how, teaching us to be clear, audience-focused academic writers and incisive-but-compassionate reviewers of others’ work. She was a mentor, coach, colleague, and inspiration who made an indelible impact on the careers of many leading LIS scholars. As one colleague said, “She clearly left a positive impact on so many of us and what better legacy for an academic is there?”
We each had different relationships with Catherine Ross, however as researchers whose work is a direct result of knowing and learning from Cath, we place ourselves on the privileged branches on her academic family tree. She was a treasured colleague, mentor, and friend, and we will miss her.
All our best advice came from Cath. And while we can’t possibly include everything we learned from her here, we highlight a few of our favourites:
Work with people who care about you and your success. This advice came to us as graduate students and we all learned it by observing how much Cath cared about our projects, our careers, and by her consistent—years long—support. Not only did Cath invite us to collaborate with her throughout our careers, and well past her retirement in 2010, she would send a note of congratulations on new publications, new grants, new positions—and not just to us—but to colleagues and advisees she had known across her career. It meant so much to know that she was still thinking about us.
Travel light, with carry-on luggage. Each of us carries a picture in our mind of Cath disembarking one plane or another, patiently waiting in the airport, her hands free, with her knapsack on her back, while we were clumsily managing our bags, looking for our suitcases on the conveyor belt. Of course, this is excellent travel advice, however, it stands up as career guidance too: set yourself up to be nimble, capable, encumbered with only what you really need, and be ready to respond. You should know that Cath carried a Swiss Army knife too.
Be ready to give more rope. Among doctoral student advisees it was understood that Cath wouldn’t ever really tell you what you should do (or not do) and she would rarely tell you how to do it. She had too much respect for your autonomy as a researcher, and even more respect for the important process of learning how to do research and how to be a researcher. However, she would always find a way to give you more time, more resources, more feedback, more ideas, and more opportunities. What you did with the rope was always up to you.
Invite others to join the party. Cath Ross concludes the introduction to one of her last books, The Pleasures of Reading: A Booklover’s Alphabet (2014, Libraries Unlimited) by writing, “This book is intended as a celebration of readers and the pleasures of reading. I invite readers to join the party.” Reading for pleasure was one of the most defining features of Cath’s scholarly and personal lives. We know her best as a reader, as a champion of people who choose to read for pleasure whether it’s Anna Karenina or Anne of Green Gables, and as an advocate for the value and importance of reading as a social good. We will carry our memories of her animated conversation, whether at dinner parties, at research meetings, or at The Book Club, of the way she leaned in to ask questions, hands and face open, eyes glinting with good humour. Our lives have been changed and made richer by getting that generous invitation, again and again. And it is one of our great pleasures to keep the party going.
Scholtz, Matthew G., April 6, 1946–June 19, 2023
— Contributed by Andrew Scholtz
Husband, father, always curious about life. He came into this world naturally, but left it on his own terms, on June 19, 2023, after a four-month, long suffering battle with complications from cancer. Matthew Scholtz is especially pleased to make his final exit currently, to avoid the next 18 months of crazy, unprincipled, and ugly American politics.
Born in Czechoslovakia on April 6, 1946, Matt lived in Germany until his family immigrated to Kitchener, Ontario in April 1951. After graduating from St. Jerome’s High School in Kitchener, he attended the University of Western Ontario, where he earned an Honours B.A. in History and English, followed by a Masters in Library Science. In August, 1970, he was appointed Chief Librarian of the Tillsonburg Public Library, a position he held until his retirement in September 2010. He founded and became the first chairperson of the Association of Small Public Libraries of Ontario (1980) and served on many area and provincial library committees. In his early tenure at the library, he was given a professional opportunity: design and manage a new Public Library. The new building opened in June 1975, but without his presence at the official opening ceremonies. Exhausted by the final preparations, he wound up in the hospital with pneumonia,
In 1984, he edited and provided photographs for “Tillsonburg: A History, 1825–1982”, which was co-authored by J.I. Cooper and John Armstrong. A decade later, he wrote “Tillsonburg Diary: A Chronological History 1824–1994”, based on a monograph by Anna M. Bailey. His last book, “Tillsonburg Album: A Photographic History”, was published in 2014. Aside from being Library C.E.O., he served as Executive Secretary of the Tillsonburg Chamber of Commerce (1977 - 2010), and as a freelance correspondent for the London Free Press (1976–90). For the Tillsonburg News, he wrote two weekly columns over 40 years, one dealing with library issues and the other with local history. He was active in Theatre Tillsonburg, on and off stage, as well as administratively as long-term, long-suffering treasurer of the Theatre Board.
There was nothing that pleased him more than to make people smile by telling a joke. It was nothing unusual for him to approach a stranger and ask,” Did you hear about the fire in London? Yes, a shoe factory burned down. 2,000 soles were lost! And it was started by a heel!” Or: “If at first you don’t succeed, I do not recommend skydiving for you.” And everyone’s favourite: “A friend suggested I put horse manure on my strawberries. Tried it. Didn’t like it. Went back to whipping cream.” He always kept his jokes short. That was because if you did not like the first one, he had another for you.
Matt believed that if you can make a person smile, you will not change the world, but you will change theirs. In September 2010, he retired from the Tillsonburg Library and befriended a student he met in a library correspondence course he had been teaching online since 1995. In October 2011, he married that student, Leni Kraska. Together, they built new lives together, first in Bainsville, Ontario and after 2013, in Tillsonburg. In his retirement, he enjoyed helping people compose their life story, but his special joy was book repairing. Matt loved to restore books for those who valued them, attracting clients from across Canada.
Matt wanted to recognize the important contribution made by Sue Rodriguez. Some thirty years ago, she failed to win her court case for death with dignity, but she ignited a conversation on that issue that led to our current legislation enabling it. Suffering Canadians owe her a lot. Thank-you so much for all your love and prayers.
Matt was a community leader par excellence in Tillsonburg for many years. He made numerous contributions that people will long remember. — Lorne Bruce
I only knew Matt for a short time, chiefly through his affiliation with Ex Libris and his membership on the board, but I had come to look forward to his jokes and his comments on library issues of the day. I had the good fortune to meet him in person twice while he was visiting his brother in Lion's Bay (near Vancouver). He was as thoughtful and funny in person as he was on line and gave very good hugs. I will miss him. — Deborah Thomas
Matt contributed so much to Ex Libris Association, with his often amusing, often thoughtful comments on the listserv, was on the Board, and contributed articles and humour to ELAN. He was a warm and thoughtful friend and colleague. — Frances Davidson-Arnott
I too knew Matt for only a short time. After exchanging several e-mails, following some postings on the ELA Listserv, we agreed that we should meet in person and we did so at Toronto Sunnybrook Hospital's coffe shop - of all places - in mid-Sept., 2022. Matt had driven in from Tillsonburg to visit his brother, Ernie, then in a coma as a result of a terrible accident experienced while he was on his motorcycle. Ernie never recovered. In that environment of 'life and death' we found the beginning of our far too brief but very meaningful friendship. — Bernie Katz
Stewart, Christina Duff, 1926–June 1, 2022
— Contributed by Leslie McGrath, former Senior Department Head, Osborne Collection, Toronto Public Library
Born in Dundee, Scotland, Christina was the daughter of James Duff and Matilda Forbes Harron Stewart. Christina was devoted to books and reading from her earliest years, and family members predicted she was headed for a career in librarianship. Her education was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II; in 1943 she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRENS) and became one of an exclusive team of young women working on code-breaking for the Enigma Project at Bletchley Park, where she worked on Turing’s Bombe until 1947. This work required an oath of secrecy which Christina scrupulously observed, never discussing her war work with even closest friends and family until the 1970s when the British Government ended the embargo. Historians estimate this project saved countless lives and shortened the war; Christina relished Churchill’s description of the code-breakers as “the golden geese that never cackled.”
Christina resumed her studies, and, inspired by Lillian H. Smith’s book The Unreluctant Years, become an intern in the Boys and Girls House program for children’s librarians in 1954. Following this internship Christina remained in Toronto, earning a B.A. at the University of Toronto (1963–67) and an M.A. in 1968 with research on the British literary family known as “The Taylors of Ongar,” including Jane Taylor, author of “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” and Ann Taylor Gilbert, author of the once ubiquitous (and frequently parodied) recitation poem “My Mother.” Christina’s thesis became a published book: The Taylors of Ongar: A Bio-Bibliography, widely consulted by cataloguers, librarians and literary historians. Academic librarianship beckoned, and Christina became Book Selector for Graduate Research in English and Drama at the University of Toronto Libraries in 1968. She chose books with care and discrimination, including rare books for the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, for the next twenty-five years until her retirement in 1992. This was a demanding job to which Christina devoted enormous effort and professional knowledge.
Though much of Christina’s time and energy was devoted to work she found time to amass a fine collection of Tayloriana, which she eventually donated to the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. She also made frequent trips to England to visit her beloved family, and enjoyed books, music and art. Concerts, shows and plays were her delight, especially after retirement, and Christina always had a wide circle of friends, to whom she was a most thoughtful and caring correspondent and visitor. Among Christina’s correspondents was Rosemary Sutcliff, who signed many of her personal letters with a distinctive dolphin signature. These, too, Christina kindly donated to the Osborne Collection, in a collection of literary letters.
War service honours came late, including a scroll signed by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with a commemorative golden flywheel to those who had served at Bletchley Park and Eastcote in 2009, followed by the Bletchley Park Service Medal. With typical modesty Christina kept these private, together with a rare photo of herself in uniform, but in her quiet devotion to duty and passion for excellence in she was herself the exemplar of public service.
Wees, Eleanor, Dec. 1, 1922–July 30, 2021
— Published in the Ottawa Citizen, July 30, 2021
Eleanor was born Alice Eleanor Belyea in Fredericton, New Brunswick on December 1, 1922 to John Allen Belyea and Bessie Alberta (Harrison) Belyea, both of New Brunswick. Eleanor was a graduate of the University of New Brunswick, receiving her B.A. in 1945, and then a Bachelor of Library Science from the University of Toronto in 1946.
From 1946 to 1953, she was head cataloguer at the University of New Brunswick Library, Fredericton. In 1953, she moved to Ottawa to work at the recently-established National Library of Canada (later Library and Archives Canada). Eleanor and a small group of other librarians and professionals, led by W. Kaye Lamb, were the founders who gave initial shape and direction to the National Library. Between 1953 and 1958 and then from 1964 until her retirement in 1987, Eleanor worked on Canadiana, the national bibliography of Canada, and as a cataloguer of books and, later, sound recordings.
She was a long-standing and active member of First Baptist Church, Ottawa, becoming a member shortly after moving to Ottawa and making many lifelong friendships there. During her years as part of the church family, she served on many boards and committees, including the Board of Deacons, and established the church newsletter, Contact, in 1973. As a librarian, she was naturally inspired to develop a church library and she served as church librarian into her 90s. Her Christian faith and the fellowship of her church community gave immense meaning to her life.
Ever intellectually active and curious, Eleanor's many interests included reading and poetry. While at the University of New Brunswick, she was an early member of the Bliss Carman Society, founded in 1940 by Dr. Alfred G. Bailey to animate literary life at U.N.B. and in Fredericton. The Society initially met to discuss and share poetry, and Eleanor, along with Dr. Bailey, Elizabeth Brewster, Frances Firth, Margaret Cunningham, Donald Gammon, and Fred Cogswell, among others, was an active member. The Society established The Fiddlehead in 1945, the oldest, continuously published literary magazine in Canada, and Eleanor contributed poetry to its early issues. She continued to occasionally write poetry throughout her life. In addition, she was a pianist, continuing to play into her later 90s, and much interested in classical music, attending the Ottawa Chamberfest for many years.
— From Gerald Parker:
It is a grievous thing to hear of the demise of this great Christian lady and superb librarian. There are few obituaries of former colleagues at the National Library of Canada whom I recall with so much respect and affection. It was a pleasure to be Eleanor's colleague (for my part, as Head of the Music Section, National Library of Canada); her work and help in supervising the library clerks in the section was especially of great value. In addition to all of her excellent qualities and accomplishments, as a lady and as librarian, was her keen discretion in dealing with difficulties of all kinds as they arose. Having Eleanor as a co-worker much facilitated my work and that of the other librarians in the section. She is so dear to the memories of those who worked with her, that any obituary (even the one included here, such a fine and detailed one) cannot begin to convey her sterling human and professional virtues. She was one of the Great Ladies of the National Library and of Library and Archives Canada.