Cover photo for Barbara May Greaney's Obituary
Barbara May Greaney Profile Photo

Barbara May Greaney

May 11, 1941 — July 5, 2023

Greaney, Barbara May (nee Hope), our talented, spirited, and creative mother, sister and aunt, passed away peacefully on Wednesday July 5, 2023, in Toronto at the age of 82.

Barb is predeceased by her parents, George and Eleanor Hope, her son David Andrew Greaney, and her nephew Shawn Hope. She is survived by her daughter Andrea Hope Greaney. She is also survived by her brother David Hope, sister-in-law Anna, sister Lynda Wyse, sister Susan Willmott and brother-in-law Larry. Barb is remembered dearly by her nieces Ardelle Parkin (James), Alexandra El-Helbawi (Hadi), Alanna Hope and Emma Willmott, as well as her nephews Byron Ahmet (Sarah) and Justin Willmott. She was also a Great Aunt to Shawn and Christine’s children, Vivian, Kiera, Malcolm and Gavin, to Ardelle’s children Jamie, Sabine and Audrey, to Alanna’s children Rory, Zahriya and Tyler, to Alexandra’s children Ara and Adalyn and to Byron’s children Dylan and Blake.

Born in Toronto on May 11, 1941, Barb was the eldest of four siblings. She paved the way for the three that followed by testing her strict but loving parents. She was raised and lived her whole life in Toronto but was fortunate to spend her summers in Muskoka at Brackenrig and in Port Carling as well as at Geneva Park on Lake Couchiching - often flying into these spots in her family’s Seabee. During these youthful years by the water, she took up synchronized swimming, eventually lifeguarding and teaching swimming at Bailey St. Beach in Port Carling while also working at The Hub restaurant by the locks.

Barb was an avid reader. She also loved music, playing the piano and singing with the Elmer Iseler Youth Choir. While at York Memorial Collegiate, she was one of two representatives on the Eaton’s Junior Council Executive. Championing the rights of women and challenging the traditional female roles and expectations was important to Barb. She would have been curious about the current ‘Barbie’ phenomenon given that she was not in favour of girls owning or playing with them.

Barb married Andrew in 1962 and had two children, David and Andrea. Extremely interested in her children’s education, she cultivated an appreciation for all forms of beauty by exposing them to theatre, music, dance, and art. And to her daughter Andrea’s chagrin, sewing. Barb loved listening to Elvis and enjoyed hearing Andrea play ‘Free to be You and Me’ repeatedly on the turntable. Also, being a talented cook, she would host their elementary school teachers for an annual luncheon, preparing several courses of exceptional dishes, always presented with elegance and attention to detail.

Barb, knowing the importance and value of Geneva Park, took over the tenure of her family’s cottage to ensure that Davie and Andrea had the G.P. experience. An experience that was continued until 2021, when the Park was sold.

Barb worked as a Social Worker for the Children’s Aid Society. While her own children were young, she went back to Ryerson for a diploma in Home Economics and then went on to OISE to attain her teaching certificate. She taught hostessing and entertaining at night school and then taught at Peel Secondary School where she facilitated the establishment of a day care. Her goal was two-fold; provide a convenient care facility for the children of young mothers so they could continue their education, and secondly, teach “hands-on” parenting to the students at the school. She loved being around children, was interested in their development and looked at everything from a learning perspective - a teacher through and through.

In 1978, Barb faced the tragic loss of her dear son Davie, who died at the age of 13 in the St. John's Boy's School canoeing accident on Lake Timiskaming, which took the lives of 12 boys and a teacher.

Soon after Davie’s death, Barbara left teaching to tap into her incredibly creative side and her love of textiles and fashion. Applying her unique sense of style and colour, she started her own business designing women and children’s clothing under The Hopechest and Folk Images labels. She opened her first shop in the old cabin at the Dixon family house in Port Carling, eventually moving downtown to open The Cabin Collection on Joseph St. She continued selling her own designs as well as other Canadian designers’ clothing and wares and beautiful fabrics imported from England. Constantly thinking of new ways to engage the community, she had artisans and textile experts give demonstrations and classes. She put on fashion shows to showcase both her designs and others, while patrons enjoyed high tea.

For several years Barb participated in the ‘One-of-A-Kind Craft Show’ where family and friends helped set up and run her booth. Bringing her exquisite esthetic to the Bloor West Village area, Barb opened a second store, Tradition and Old Lace, setting up a studio above the store where sewers crafted her designs and where she offered an assortment of classes. Barbara designed several outfits for Andrea, the most memorable one being the white silk cowboy outfit, with fringe, complete with bolero tie and white cowboy boots, for Andrea’s Grade 13 graduation.

Later, Barb discovered the art of Rubber Stamping and introduced rubber stamps to dedicated corners of each store. She eventually closed both the Port Carling and Bloor West Village stores to then open The Rubber Stamp General Store further downtown in Port Carling, introducing this fairly new art form to all who entered.

After Barb retired, she loved spending time with her cats; she continued to love reading, diving in to one mystery after another; she loved going to the movies; she loved cold water made up 90% of ice; she loved sweet and savory treats; she loved a cozy bed; she enjoyed being around the energy of the great nieces and nephews and being kept up to date about the goings on of all of the family members.

Barb endeavored to bestow beauty and order on everything she touched. She was regarded as fierce, passionate, and discerning by those who knew her well. She was inquisitive, observant, and an original thinker who pursued expertise in all her interests. She marched to the beat of her own drum.

Her family will hold dear many memories of Barb …. How she jockeyed to be next in line to have her feet tickled by Grandma Chris, her mother or any other family member she could convince to do the honours. Her thoughtful, exquisitely wrapped gifts. Her big New Year’s Day delicious turkey dinners for family and friends. How she gave one of her nieces, at a young age, the opportunity to start her own business selling hand painted T-shirts at the store. Another niece remembers overnights at Jackson Ave. spent watching movies and rubber stamping. And another niece thinks back to helping Barb hand out store announcements on Bloor St. W. dressed head to toe in Barb’s designs. We will remember her strong sensitivity toward the underdog, and her ability to make beautiful things of quality that continue to be worn and used today.

We hope that, now reunited, George, Eleanor, Davie, Shawn and Barbara are catching up and enjoying a heavenly, scrumptious meal together.

The family would like to extend our gratitude to the staff at Better Living at Thompson House, who loved and respected Barb’s determination, strong opinions, and enduring spunk, and who helped care for her during her last years.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Canadian Canoe Museum; Better Living at Thompson House or CAMH in Barb’s memory.

A Celebration of Life is planned for the fall. A private interment will be at Ufford Cemetery in Muskoka where Barbara’s son David is buried.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara May Greaney, please visit our flower store.

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